Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Punch heard 'round the Pastime

Unless you're a dedicated seamhead, you probably never heard of Rougned Odor, the Texas Rangers' second baseman. Well, until this, that is.

Now he'll be woven into the rich tapestry of baseball iconography, because he's now the Man Who Threw The Greatest Punch In Baseball History. I mean, take another look at that thing. Even Joe Frazier is saying "Damn!"

Of course, it must be said here that there really isn't much competition for The Greatest Punch In Baseball History, because baseball fights are not exactly, well, fights. You won't see Bob Probert taking on Marty McSorley anytime soon on a baseball diamond, and you certainly won't see a Thrilla In Manila. Or a Punch-Up At PNC Park, for that matter.

That's because most baseball fights skew closer to animated discussion than out-and-out throwdowns. The dugouts empty, everyone gathers in a big scrum in the middle of the diamond, and there's a lot of pushing and shoving and hollering. No one (especially pitchers) wants to break a hand throwing punches. So baseball "brawls" tend to be ballroom dancing with cussing.

That's why Odor's punch has become an instant legend, and will remain so until someone one-ups him. The fact the victim was Jose Bautista, not exactly a beloved figure in baseball circles, only adds to the mythology that will inevitably grow up around it.

Why, someday those glasses that flew off Bautista's face could wind up in Cooperstown. And the notation, if Bautista's long list of non-admirers has anything to say about it, will read something like this: "Sunglasses worn by Jose Bautista the day Rougned Odor knocked the bleeping bleep into the middle of next week like he was a department store mannequin."

Can't wait to see that.

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