October 14th 2015 is a date that will remain in the minds of most Canadians, whether they follow baseball religiously or not.
Being Canada’s only Major League Baseball team, the Toronto Blue Jays have yet to win a World Series title since their historic back-to-back seasons in 1992 and 1993. Many who watched at the time remember Joe Carter’s almost storybook walk-off home run in the bottom of the 9th in 1993. Jose Bautista brought back memories of that day almost one year ago.
A strange error by Russell Martin involving a routine return throw to pitcher Aaron Sanchez would give the Texas Rangers the lead in the final game of the ALDS. Martin, afraid he’d just thrown his team’s entire season under the bus, was visibly upset.
Fans, outraged by this call standing, begin to toss beer cans onto the field to express their displeasure. One beer can strikes an infant fan in the seats just behind home plate. The PA announcer makes an announcement asking fans to refrain from throwing projectiles onto the field.
This would only be the beginning of the one of the most captivating and strange series of events to unfold in all of baseball, maybe all of sports, and possibly all of recent television.
Failing to further capitalize on the Martin’s mistake, Texas ended the top of the 7th a run ahead of Toronto. In what should have been a routine bottom-inning for the Rangers, Toronto would put runners on 1st and 3rd base after three consecutive errors by the Rangers. All of these errors should have been routine plays for the Rangers to end the inning. The Blue Jays had brought the score back to a tie.
José Bautista would walk up to the plate next. Then all hell would break loose.
After facing two pitches, Bautista would cream the ball into the 1st tier of the Rogers Centre outfield seats. The crowd explodes with absolute ecstasy. Stationary TV cameras tremble as the stadium LITERALLY SHAKES with noise and fans jumping up and down. As Bautista touches home plate, beverages can be seen being thrown on the field.
“[This] is not a safe environment to have players on the field right now.” – Harold Reynolds, Fox Sports
As a brief melee ensues between both teams over Bautista’s showmanship, the fans inside the Rogers Centre have reached their peak excitement, for better or for worse. Toronto Police have to apprehend a fan who has taken his jubilance to the outfield. Beer is now being throw into the field in celebration, rather than in disgust like the previous half inning.
Police now surrounding the entire field, both teams take a 10 minute break before resuming play.
After base hits by Enwin Encarnacion and Chris Collabello, Troy Tulowitzki would hit a pop fly to end a 53 minute-long 7th inning. A single inning in baseball is typically 15-20 minutes on average.
The Blue Jays would go on to win the game and the ALDS. This game was for the DIVISION TITLE. You would’ve thought they just won a World Series.
A lot of casual viewers of baseball criticize the games pacing as “boring” or “too slow.” This single inning could shift the most jaded of viewers to the edge of their seat.
As for me, I’ll never forget “the bat flip”. I was in a Toronto Boston Pizza, and I hugged about a massive group of complete strangers in pure joy that night.
Where were you?
If you forget, here’s the bottom half of the 7th in it’s entirety. I watch the whole thing every now and then. I still get goosebumps.