Blue Jays: My favourite Jose Bautista moments I’ve witnessed live
It was a very emotional final home game for fans of the Toronto Blue Jays as they had to say one last goodbye to franchise legend Jose Bautista, who in 99.9% certainty will not return next season. Many Blue Jays fans likely have multiple memories they’ve seen live involving Jose Bautista. To give my personal tribute to Bautista, I put together my top 5 Jose Bautista moments I’ve seen live at Rogers Centre.
5. Bautista’s Wild-Card Game Home Run
I have been quite fortunate over the past two seasons to attend six post-season games. Four came in 2015 and two came in 2016. One of those games was the AL Wildcard game, which is personally a top five sporting event I have attended.
Jose Bautista always had a knack for coming up big against the Baltimore Orioles and coming up big in the post-season. The Wildcard game was no different. Bautista got the Blue Jays up and running with a 2nd inning home run against Chris Tillman. Not only did it get the Jays out in front early, but it set the Rogers Center into a frenzy, myself included. The Orioles did take a 2-1 lead, before Ezequiel Carrera tied the game. If not for Bautista’s early home run, we may not have had the famous Edwin Encarnacion walkoff.
4. Jose Bautista Homers Off Roy Halladay
Roy Halladay was originally supposed to pitch against the Blue Jays in 2010, but the impact from the G20 Summit in Toronto pushed the series against the Philadelphia Phillies to Philadelphia. A year later, the Phillies came to Toronto and Roy Halladay got to take the Rogers Centre mound for the first time as a visitor.
2010 was the year Bautista exploded with 54 home runs. 2011 was statistically a better season according to fWAR and this game was in the middle of that season, which ended up being his best as a Blue Jay. Bautista homered off of Halladay, something many considered to be the passing of the torch from Halladay to Bautista as the next Blue Jays superstar. I sat in the 500 level outfield for this game and the home run travelled a LONG way.
3. Bautista Hits Inside The Park Homerun
Of the 54 home runs Jose Bautista hit in 2010, 53 of them left the ballpark. Against the Minnesota Twins and off of pitcher Kevin Slowey, Bautista hit an inside the park home run. It would not have occurred if the circus wasn’t present in the Twins outfield.
Unless there was a game I was at and cannot remember, I believe this inside the park home run by Bautista is the only inside-the-park-homer I’ve ever seen live which is why this moment has stood out for me so much.
2. The Jose Bautista-Darren O’Day Rivalry Begins
2013. What a season that DIDN’T end up being. 2013 was supposed to be the year the Blue Jays returned to the post-season after a flurry of off-season moves. It was the complete opposite of that as the team started out 10-20.
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Despite the 10-20 start, the 2013 Blue Jays did at least get above .500 and this game was the 10th in a row for the Blue Jays who ended up rattling off 11 consecutive wins.
The night before this game., Bautista and O’Day exchanged words after O’Day struck out Bautista. The next day in a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the 8th, Bautista and O’Day were facing each other again. Bautista homered and made a keep yapping gesture to Darren O’Day as he rounded the bases, and their personal rivalry was born.
Since then, the Blue Jays rivalry with the Orioles has developed and has become what it is today, which is usually good for some entertainment. This homer that I was at the park for, was the beginning of the rivalry.
*Thanks to youtuber ‘estammen’ for the video. The MLB.com version wouldn’t cooperate with the article for one reason or another.
1. The Bat Flip
Yes, I was one of the lucky 49,742 that packed the Rogers Centre for the most famous homer Bautista ever hit, the bat flip. We all know how it led to that moment, so I won’t go back over it in detail. As soon as the ball left the bat of Jose Bautista, pandemonium ensued. It was the best Blue Jays moment I’ve ever seen live and I will remember the Jose Bautista bat flip for the rest of my life.
There have been many Jose Bautista home runs that I have seen live. Too many to count and to many to remember. These five stick out to me as my favourite, and I will cherish the memories for the rest of my life. I want to thank you, Jose, for providing me with some of the best moments I’ve ever experienced. Regardless of what happens next year and beyond, you will always be loved by not only me, but by all Blue Jays fans around the world.