Blue Jays: Will the rivalry with the Rangers carry on?

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 14: Jose Bautista
TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 14: Jose Bautista /

Now that the Blue Jays have completely turned over their roster from the 2015-16 playoff teams, will there be any rivalry left with the Texas Rangers?

As much as I like to joke about hating the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and occasionally other MLB teams, it’s always been a respectful distaste, especially for teams in the AL East that get in the way of my beloved Toronto Blue Jays. I have a borderline hatred of the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadians in the NHL, but I’ve never really felt that way about a MLB team.

Until the 2016 Texas Rangers.

By now I’m sure you’re familiar with what happened back then, but if not, let me take you through a quick recap.

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  1. October 2015: Jose Bautista hits his infamous home run against the Rangers in the ALDS, which was the occasion of the “Bat Flip”.
  2. May 2016: Rougned Odor punches Bautista after a slide into second base.
  3. May 2016- Present: Rangers fans continue to cry about it.
    *Okay, maybe I exaggerated that last part a little bit*

After Bautista hit that home run and flipped his bat, a new rivalry was born between the Rangers and Blue Jays. There was a chance that could happen with any team you come up against in the playoffs, but that pivotal moment changed the relationship between the two franchises forever. And when Odor threw a punch roughly seven months later, that just cemented it.

Bautista will likely always be viewed as a villain in Texas, and I’m sure the same will happen for Odor. However, for this new generation of the Blue Jays, has the rivalry already come and gone? I’m sure Odor will always get booed when he visits the Rogers Centre, especially as long as he’s in a Texas uniform, but it also seems like the type of thing that could be quickly forgotten with a new era of this team.

Realistically it was more about Odor and Bautista than it was the Rangers vs. Blue Jays, even with two playoff series between them. With that in mind, Bautista has already been out of baseball for a year, and Odor may not be that far behind him. While the second baseman continues to be a source of power (he hit 30 home runs in 2019), he’s really struggled over the last couple of years, hitting just .205 last season and finishing at a replacement level bWAR of 0.0.

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We’ll always have the memories though, and as much as Rangers fans may have felt like their guy avenged them a bit with the punch, I can’t imagine they’re a replacement for two ALDS losses. We’ll see how many folks care much anymore in a year or two.