By Matt Dolloff (@mattdolloff)
BOSTON (CBS) -- Bat flipping is one of baseball's most hotly debated "unwritten rules." Is it disrespectful or unprofessional to the other team, specifically the pitcher who gave up the home run? Is it just a show of emotion in a harmless celebration? How would you feel if you gave up a home run and the hitter stood there and admired it before hurling it into the air?
If you ask me, I'm fine with it. If any celebration in baseball is over-the-top, it's the champagne showers for winning anything other than the World Series. If you hit the biggest home run of your life, pimp it all you want. Create your own iconic moment.
And man oh man did the Blue Jays' Jose Bautista make the most of his opportunity.
In case you've been avoiding TV and social media, or living in a mine shaft for the past 14 hours, the Blue Jays and Rangers played perhaps the craziest inning ever in the 7th Wednesday night. Bautista stepped to the plate after the Jays tied the Texas Rangers 3-3 on one of the most bizarre plays in recent memory when Russell Martin's throw back to the pitcher deflected off Shin-Soo Choo's bat, allowing the tying run to score from third.
Taking an already-wild inning to dizzying new heights, Bautista cranked a 1-1 pitch off Rangers reliever Sam Dyson into the second level that left the ballpark in what felt like half a second. Showing impressive pimping form, he planted his feet perfectly to gaze at the ball as it sailed into the stands, then flung the bat into the stratosphere.
This is when Bautista forever etched his name into baseball lore. It was the bat flip heard 'round the world. Legend has it that it's still floating somewhere near Niagara Falls.
But of course, Dyson took exception to Bautista's ostentatious showing and started barking at Edwin Encarnacion in the on-deck circle, and that's when the benches cleared. It was really the only way to cap such a chaotic and eventful inning.
Bautista said after the game that it was the most "emotionally charged" that he had ever played in, and I don't think anyone would disagree with that. It was packed with drama and featured a few epic hits, an all-timer of a fluke play and one of the wildest innings in playoff history. It's about as legendary as you can get for a divisional round game.
But the symbol of this game will ultimately be Bautista's bat flip, which is easily the greatest of all-time. Whatever you pick for second place is about five levels down from Bautista. It was a magical combination of circumstance, passion, and execution. And Twitter exploded with awesome reactions.
In the age of social media, instant information, and viral stories, it's easy for moments like Bautista's bat flip to immediately get plastered all over the internet and take over people's Twitter feeds. And it's easy for its importance to inflate beyond all comprehension. But make no mistake, this was the greatest bat flip in history.
Meaningless regular season home runs have nothing on Bautista's go-ahead bomb that ultimately won the Blue Jays the game and completed their comeback to win the series. The palpable energy in Toronto went past 11, and baseball showed why its playoffs can at times be must-see TV, the most riveting form of playoff sports imaginable.
Let me know when the bat lands.
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com and amateur wiffle bat-flipper. His opinions do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Read more from Matt here. Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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