Fernando Tatis Jr. socked a pair of dingers off sticky-fingered Dodgers righty and self-mutilating drone enthusiast Trevor Bauer Saturday night, in what would ultimately be a losing effort for the Padres. And as fun as it is to watch Bauer get roughed up a little, what’s even better is when the guy doing the roughing takes the opportunity to troll Bauer while rounding the bases, as Tatis did following his homers. Even better than that is when the trolling makes Bauer Big Mad and he throws a big temper tantrum! Yeah! But I’ve bad news on that front. Confusing, potentially devastating news: Not only was Bauer not mad about the trolling, he was authentically very cool and had the exact right take about the whole thing. Crushing.
So far this season Tatis is knocking the buttcheeks off the damn baseball: Six of his 12 hits have cleared the outfield wall, and he’s in the 99th percentile in both average exit velocity (97 mph) and hard hit percentage (64.7 percent), according to MLB statistics. Even his outs are lashed. Tatis smoked a pair of home runs off Bauer’s teammate Clayton Kershaw just Friday night, which makes him the first MLB player ever to have back-to-back two-homer games off of Cy Young winners, according to Elias. Be extremely careful what you leave over the plate against Tatis these days, is what I’m saying. Bauer grooved an 0-1 cutter with his second pitch of the game Saturday, and Tatis pounced.
Tatis spun to face his teammates in the visiting dugout while rounding the bases and threw a hand up to cover his right eye, a reference to the time when Bauer pitched an inning against the Padres with one eye shut. Perhaps you don’t remember the episode, which occurred during an otherwise unremarkable spring training outing back in March. The Padres for sure remember, in part because Bauer made sure the stunt was understood by all parties to be an own: Following the spring outing, Bauer told reporters he figured “if they can’t score off me with one eye open, it’s going to be difficult to score off me with two eyes open.”
The trolling and the dinger-socking continued in the top of the sixth, when Tatis clobbered an outside 3-2 slider to left center for his second solo shot of the game. This time, instead of doing the one-eye thing, Tatis did an understated version of that gross floppy armed strut popularized by Conor McGregor, which Bauer has been known to break out following dominant innings.
Tatis summarized his end of this as “payback time.” Bauer, who otherwise held the Padres scoreless and collected the win, was asked about the trolling after the game and, heartbreakingly, responded with grace and equanimity:
“That’s what it is to be a competitor,” Bauer said. “I’m gonna go at you. I’m gonna get you sometimes, and you’re gonna get me sometimes. We can have fun, we can celebrate it while we’re still competing at the highest level. I just thought that was important to note tonight.”ESPN
Ugh. Bauer furthermore described fellow pitchers who throw at guys in retaliation as “pretty soft” and said he thinks the game “should move in [the] direction” of players having fun and celebrating on the field. For the sake of my own mental health, I am going to imagine Bauer said this through painfully clenched teeth, then went home, punched a hole in his drywall, and spent the rest of the night sobbing into a pillow.