It’s been two-plus years since that fateful 2015 ALDS series between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Texas Rangers. Many of the players who participated in that series aren’t even around anymore. Yet, there appears to be no love lost between those two teams.
At least, no love lost between a few select members of these clubs.
Marcus Stroman faced Rougned Odor in the first inning of Saturday evening’s game in Texas. During the very first pitch from Stroman, Odor went ahead and did this:
Ah yes, I see Odor is as petty as ever. pic.twitter.com/q12oWMRq3T
— Ian Hunter (@BlueJayHunter) April 8, 2018
That was an exaggerated leg kick by Odor, followed by a crotch grab and then he stared down Stroman for a good ten seconds afterwards. After all these years, it’s good to see that Odor is still as petty as ever.
Were this any other player on any other team, it would be easy to shrug this off as an innocent joke. Word’s gotten out around the league about Stroman’s varied timing to the plate and his hesitated delivery. Batters mocking it in the box is an odd choice, but it’s their right. But this is the Texas Rangers and Odor we’re talking about here.
Considering the contentious history between these two teams, people are already on-edge anytime the Blue Jays face the Rangers, whether it’s in Texas or Toronto. And then Odor ramped things up right away in his very first plate appearance of the game.
Was that gamesmanship, really? Odor mocking Stroman’s exaggerated delivery by practically stretching his leg across home plate? The irony is if he didn’t pull that move, Stroman’s pitch probably hits Odor in the leg. Both players knew exactly what they were doing in this scenario.
The only Blue Jay who has a history with Odor is Jose Bautista, but considering how close Stroman says he is with Joey Bats, maybe he felt like he owed it to Jose to go after his least favourite person in MLB? Just a theory and probably a stretch, but considering how far inside that first pitch was from Stroman, it would not surprise me.
If anyone thought this Blue Jays/Rangers rivalry left town once Bautista was no longer a Blue Jay, think again. The embers are still there, they just need stoking once again. Don’t forget, there’s this little tweet from Stroman just after that Bautista/Odor dustup from 2016:
Zero respect for Odor. Never had respect for him, never will.
— Marcus Stroman (@MStrooo6) May 15, 2016
A reminder: Odor posted the worst wRC+ of any qualified batter in 2017, a staggering 61 wRC+ in 162 games with the Rangers.