You can’t talk about José Bautista without talking about the bat flip heard around the world.
Fox’s Kenny Albert’s call of Bautitsa’s go-ahead three-run home run in the 2015 American League Division Series against the Texas Rangers is ingrained in every Blue Jays fan’s head.
“Bautista with a drive, deep left field, no doubt about it.”
It’s also ingrained in John Gibbons’ head as the best moment in his managerial career. The former Toronto Blue Jays manager recently joined Jessica Kleinschmidt on the Short and to the Point podcast to discuss this very topic, and why that moment could only have come from Bautista.
“We had a group of guys, you can throw [Edwin] Encarnación in there, even Josh [Donaldson], kind of late bloomers in their career, right? And so I think all of them had that edge and all of them had that little chip on their shoulder, because you know, Bautista was a journeyman and never got an opportunity until he came to Toronto. Encarnación the same thing and then Josh, he was a late bloomer. So, they all played with that edge.
“But Bautista, José was the face of the franchise for a number of years. He led the league in home runs a couple of times, and it ended up on a team that did absolutely nothing. It was basically his team, even when Josh came over there [from Oakland] and some of the other guys, it was still Bautista’s team. He had been there so long. He had so much success…When he did that, Josh could’ve hit that same home run, I don’t think it would’ve had the same effect. Any of them [could have]. This was José’s moment. He’s Mr. Blue Jay. He’s never been to the postseason. The season’s on the line. It’s Game 5, you gotta win that one.
“I don’t know how to describe it other than it was just meant to be. It was supposed to be him, because everything that led up to that, his reputation in the game. Outside of our team, he wasn’t liked at all. He was probably the No. 1 number villain…He was kind of the leader of the pack.”
Everything had kind of built up to that point, which Gibbons described as “obviously, the greatest moment of my career.”
It’s a bit ironic in the sense that Gibbons, a former catcher himself, is self-admittedly “not a huge bat flip guy.”
But that moment was different. It wasn’t a regular season game.
“I’ve always believed, not just in baseball, but in life and everything, you got to earn your stripes and things,” he said. “That’s just kind of the way and I think it works best when you do that. It doesn’t mean you hold anyone down, these young kids…There’s a good way to be a winner and a good way to be a loser. You don’t show people up, you don’t rub it in, anything like that. That was kind of ingrained in me in most people from a young age.”
Again, Gibbons wanted to make it known that this moment was different. This was 23 years of pent-up frustration in one swing of the bat.
“The ironic thing is, nobody celebrated home runs more than the Texas Rangers,” Gibbons added. “That was kind of what was funny about it. So, I didn’t mind that moment. I actually didn’t see him flip the bat. I’m tracking that ball out there. I’ve seen it, I don’t know many times since, but that didn’t bother me.”