Tom Lawless, king of the bat flips, is rooting for another Jose Bautista bat flip

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. By now, you’ve probably seen the Jose Bautista bat flipmore times than you can remember.Tom Lawle s has seen it, too. He wasn’t watching when it happened, but it didn’t take long for his kids to tell him he had to watch the replay, Early Wynn Jersey which he did on his smartphone.MORE: Best photos from the ALCS| Baseball’s five dumbest unwritten rulesIt was pretty good, Lawle s said with a laugh during a phone conversation with Sporting News. Strange things happen in the playoffs.Lawle s knows this better than most. For one moment during the 1987 World Series, Tom Lawle s was maybe the least likely bada s in baseball.In the fourth inning of Game 4, Lawle s was at the plate with no outs and two of his St. Louis Cardinals teammates on base in a 1-1 game. Lefty Frank Viola was on the mound for the Minnesota Twins, who owned a 2-1 series advantage at that moment.Lawle s drilled a fastball from Viola high and deep to left field. As the crowd at Busch Stadium gasped, Lawle s stared down the ball and stomped toward first base.When the ball cleared the fence, after 11 Lawle s steps, he let loose the single most epic bat flip in the history of Major League Baseball. You don’t go up to home plate thinking, ’I’m going to hit a home run and I’m going to flip the bat,’ Lawle s said. That doesn’t even cro s your mind.For a guy like Lawle s, especially.Let’s look at the improbability of Lawle s hitting a home run in that situation. First, it was off Frank Viola, one of the American League’s best lefties he had a 2.90 ERA in the 1987 season and wound up winning the 1988 AL Cy Young award.Heading into that at-bat, Lawle s had exactly one career home run in 215 games in the majors, way back in 1984 when he was with Cincinnati. He only hit more than eight homers once in a season in the minors.During the 1987 regular season, Lawle s hit .080 with a .299 OPS. He only played 19 games and had 29 plate appearances. He started only three games. His only extra-base hit all season, a double, came in his final at-bat of the season, in Game 162. Heading into Game 4 of the World Series, Lawle s was 2-for-9 in the postseason.You get the picture.Legendary play-by-play man Al Michaels was on the call. A full 45 seconds of stunned silence after the ball cleared the wall and came rocketing back toward the infield, enough time for Lawle s to circle the bases and greet his delirious teammates back at the dugout, Michaels exclaimed, Did we really see that?So, yeah, it was improbable. Lawle s wasn’t thinking how am I going Ozzie Guillen Jersey to celebrate my awesomene s while he was at the plate. He was as focused as he po sibly could be about doing something, anything to help his ballclub win a World Series game.The reaction was genuine. The reaction was authentic.And the reaction just happened to include flipping his bat in the air, after he stalked down the first-base line staring at the ball and just daring it to not get over the wall.And I probably didn’t even remember it until after the game I saw the replay of it, Lawle s said. Then you look and say, ’Why’d you do that?’ It’s just the emotion of the playoffs. You’re trying to win. They’re trying to win. And crazy things just happen.Crazy things do happen. Which brings us back to Bautista and his bat flip.It’s been the primary topic of conversation from the moment it happened. Some people think it was great. Some think it was awful.So how about Lawle s?It’s really hard to hit a baseball 95, 97. It’s really hard, he said. It’s not an easy thing to do. So why can’t you celebrate? In football, you score a touchdown and you celebrate on a weekly basis.But what about the disrespecting the game or the opponent argument?You’re not showing anybody up. The emotion of what you just did kind of just takes over you, he said. Especially if it puts your team ahead or it’s in the ninth inning or something like that, where now you win the game. Because that’s the bottom line, winning.And the Blue Jays did win that game because of Bautista’s home run. But that’s just one reason Lawle s loved it.I guarantee you, if he hits one again, he’ll do it again, Lawle s said. And I’ll be rooting for him.

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