Last night, in the 10th inning of Game 2 of the World Series, Astros shortstop Carlos Correa exuberantly flipped his bat when he hit a solo home run off of Josh Fields. Here’s the video:
The Dodgers ended up losing 7-6 in 11 innings. It would have been easy for the Dodgers to be salty about it and about Correa showing them up. But neither closer Kenley Jansen, who gave up a game-tying home run to Marwin Gonzalez in the ninth, nor Yasiel Puig — a bat-flipping guru himself — blamed Correa for celebrating.
Per MLB.com’s Mike Petriello, Jansen said, “You can do whatever you want to if you hit me out. I don’t care. You got me.”
And, via MLB.com’s Joshua Thornton, Puig said, “I loved it. It was a little higher than the bat flips I normally do. He was happy and that’s the way you should play in the World Series. Not everybody gets to play in a place like this. It’s good that he plays like that and it’s good that Latino players are able to contribute that way. He wasn’t batting too well and he was only getting a few hits and when he got the home run it was a moment for him to be happy. I’m glad that he was able to celebrate that.”
Contrast that to the Rangers, who were victims of Jose Bautista‘s bat flip in Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS. On May 15 the next year, the Rangers and Blue Jays met for the final time during the regular season. In the top of the eighth inning, ostensibly Bautista’s last at-bat against the Rangers that year, Matt Bush hit him with a fastball. Bautista then slid late and hard into second baseman Rougned Odor trying to break up a double play attempt, which led to Odor shoving Bautista and punching him in the face. If only the Rangers had as much chill as the Dodgers.
The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.
Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.
Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”
Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.
The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.