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Nation & World

Jose Bautista's Defiant Bat Flip Ignites Baseball Controversy

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Next a little controversy in baseball.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Last night, the Texas Rangers and the Toronto Blue Jays were all tied up when Toronto All-Star Jose Bautista stepped up to the plate. The Blue Jays' first trip to the playoffs in 22 years was on the line.

CORNISH: Then he hit the game-winning home run.

JASON TURBOW: He knew it, everyone in the stands knew it, and he just froze.

CORNISH: Baseball writer Jason Turbow was transfixed by that hit. And, by the way, Bautista flipped his bat up into the air.

MCEVERS: Way up.

TURBOW: This wasn't a little aside of a bat flip. He wasn't just kind of getting rid of it in a showy fashion. He punctuated everything he had just done with that flip.

MCEVERS: The crowd went crazy, but not everyone was happy. After the game, the unlucky Rangers' reliever who served up that pitch told The Washington Post that Bautista needed to, quote, "respect the game a little more."

CORNISH: Turns out bat flipping is a touchy subject. We called up notorious bat flipper Bret Boone, a former All-Star for Cincinnati and Seattle.

BRET BOONE: I thought, maybe a little too much.

CORNISH: But then again, Boone argues, you need to take the long view.

BOONE: This guy's hit 50 homers before. So yeah, he's earned the right.

MCEVERS: Sports writer Jason Turbow agrees. He doesn't love this kind of showboating, but Bautista and the Blue Jays deserve to show a little emotion.

BOONE: There was nothing bigger for this team in the last 22 years, and that deserves to be celebrated.

CORNISH: The Blue Jays are back tomorrow night against the Kansas City Royals. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.