So we've entered the penalty phase from Sunday's fracas in Texas: Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor drew an eight-game suspension for punching Toronto Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista, Jays manager John Gibbons got three games for going onto the field after previously getting tossed, Jays first-base coach Tim Leiper got chucked for a day for returning to the dugout after being ejected, Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus accepted a one-game suspension for his actions in the melee and Bautista got suspended for one game for ... what, getting punched in the face?
Does that seem just to you? Because remember, after Bautista slid hard and late into second base in a pretty straightforward, old-school takeout slide, Odor stood up, shoved Bautista and threw a punch -- not just any punch, but a great punch, a Rock’em Sock’em Robots punch, a "get your money's worth if you're going to be suspended" punch. It was totally not the sort of thing you see in baseball.
As punches go, it thoroughly deserves a heavy penalty. I buy Karl Ravech's argument on SportsCenter that this is much like Cubs catcher Michael Barrett throwing a punch after a play at the plate with A.J. Pierzynski in 2006. Just as Odor had, Barrett had a key split second or two to think about it before clocking Pierzynski, and he then got rung up for a 10-game suspension.
So why just eight games for Odor, and why then also suspend the punchee? The difference between this incident and Barrett's at home plate a decade ago is where baseball stands today on the subject of the slide rule.
Call it an unintended consequence of the game doing the right thing in trying to keep its players from suffering avoidable injuries on the basepaths. You can start with the Pittsburgh Pirates' Jung Ho Kang being lost for the 2015 season after the Chicago Cubs' Chris Coghlan tumbled into him. But that was the warmup for the now-infamous takeout slide Chase Utley employed to knock Ruben Tejada down and out of the rest of the 2015 postseason. The game doesn't want to see that kind of attrition. Not in October, not ever. However, Utley subsequently never had to serve any of the two-game suspension that was meted out.
And that's why we're here, talking about a guy getting docked for getting punched in the face. Because last year's rules are not this year's rules. Seeing Bautista get suspended makes it plain this wasn't just about his punchability. He tried to knock Odor into left field, and baseball is explicitly done with that sort of thing.
You can argue that this was instinctive, that Bautista's natural instincts took over on the basepaths, or that this is how he was coached, but his slide still looked pretty cheap. Odor has the reasonable expectation, thanks to baseball's new rules, that this sort of thing shouldn't happen to him. It's the new expectation, and it probably goes far to help explain why Odor was completely unrepentant afterward.
If you really want to plead Bautista's case, you can, of course, note that there were other triggers, starting with Rangers reliever Matt Bush hitting Bautista with a pitch to the ribs to put him on base in the first place to set this whole situation up. And you can argue that was payback for Bautista flipping his bat last year in the ALDS against the Rangers.
Everyone on both teams knows all of this, and they won't forget. Not now, and not in 20 years, when everybody involved is on the autograph circuit or coaching.
So if you're baseball's deans of discipline, do you just punish Odor, or do you try to tell both teams to cut it down and keep it clean? You go even-handed, maybe forgive Odor a game or two while dropping an eight-spot on him, and you suspend Bautista for good measure.
For getting punched in the face, sure, but also for a hard slide, because that's how it is now, and going forward.
Christina Kahrl writes about MLB for ESPN. You can follow her on Twitter.