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A history of the feud between the Blue Jays and the Texas Rangers

Two years ago, the Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers were just cordial competitors with no bad blood. But after two consecutive playoff series and a highly publicized regular-season brawl, the two teams are suddenly bitter rivals.

This weekend, the teams will meet once again for a three-game series, beginning tonight at the Rogers Centre. It will be their first encounter since the Blue Jays eliminated the Rangers from the postseason last year. Given the history between these two clubs, it wouldn’t be shocking if we see some fireworks. Here’s a brief history of the Blue Jays–Rangers feud.

A history of the feud between the Blue Jays and the Texas Rangers
The bat flip that started it all

It all began with Jose Bautista’s decisive home run in Game 5 of the ALDS against the Texas Rangers on October 14th, 2015. His flamboyant display of dominance riled up the Rangers bench, setting the stage for further conflict. Later in the game, Rangers reliever Sam Dyson apparently told Edwin Encarnacion to tell Bautista “not to do that ever again.”

A history of the feud between the Blue Jays and the Texas Rangers
Dyson and Encarnacion exchange words

During that same game, there was some miscommunication. Encarnacion motioned toward the crowd, apparently in an attempt to settle them down, but Dyson seemed to interpret the gesture as a taunt. The two players got in an argument, and the benches cleared.

A history of the feud between the Blue Jays and the Texas Rangers
Dyson pats Tulowitzki on the rear end

Later in the same game, there was another altercation, this time between Dyson and Blue Jays slugger Troy Tulowitzki. Possibly in an attempt to bury the hatchet, Dyson approached Tulo at the plate and patted him on the backside. Tulo, confused, barked back at Dyson, and the benches cleared once again.

A history of the feud between the Blue Jays and the Texas Rangers
Bush plunks Bautista

Seven months later, the Jays were in the midst of another baseball season—but the Rangers had evidently not forgotten the previous year’s humiliation. During a game on May 15, 2016, they may have exacted retribution by having Matt Bush hit Jose Bautista with a pitch.

It’s impossible to say whether the beanball was intentional, but its timing was extremely suspicious. The game was the final regular season meeting between the two clubs, and it was Bautista’s final at-bat of the game. The hit set the stage for more conflict, mere moments later.

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A history of the feud between the Blue Jays and the Texas Rangers
The punch heard around the world

Shortly afterward, Bautista slid hard into second base. Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor took exception and responded with a shove, and then a haymaker right into Bautista’s bearded jaw. Both teams bolted from their dugouts, and several Blue Jays—notably Josh Donaldson and Kevin Pillar—dove into the brawl.

A history of the feud between the Blue Jays and the Texas Rangers
The Blue Jays return the favour

After the melee finally settled down and the game progressed to the bottom of the eighth, Jays pitcher Jesse Chavez beaned the very first batter he faced, Prince Fielder.

A history of the feud between the Blue Jays and the Texas Rangers
From bat flip to bat drop

Fast forward to October 2016, when the two teams faced each other in the playoffs once again. In the first game of the series, one year after being criticized for flipping his bat and “disrespecting the game,” Jose Bautista punctuated a decisive victory with a home run and a polite “bat drop.”

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