However, it's not the stats alone that have had statisticians, analysts and writers scratching their heads for the past year and a half. No, that can't be, as Jose wasn't the first to hit 50 home runs (25 have done it before him), and he surely wasn't the first to bring 120 runners home (10 have posted this six times or more).
The legend of Jose Bautista is a story like no other that has been produced in the history of baseball.
While players like Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez and Prince Fielder took the short, scenic route to stardom and have been giving fans souvenir balls since the day they stepped onto a major league field, Jose Bautista took the longest, bumpiest, rockiest road with more dead-ends than Johnny Damon's hair in his Red Sox days (at least the ladies liked it), before he finally took the exit to Toronto.
Although he is receiving his piece of the popularity-cake five- to ten-years later than the aforementioned players, Bautista's story has the potential to affect many more people on a personal level than your average baseball star.
On the surface, it would seem as though Bautista, while flying from team to team, taking every at bat he was offered, and contemplating whether or not he had a future playing the game he had dedicated the better part of his 30 years to, just hung in there long enough to receive his "lucky" break.
That was not the case; his break was anything but lucky. Contrary to what it may look like on the surface, Jose Bautista did the complete opposite of "hanging in there," because "hanging in there" implies a certain degree of desperation, a word that I would gamble Bautista doesn't even know the definition of.
Not even when he was offered a $5,000 contract by the New York Yankees in 1999 did he show desperation.
If you look deeper into the life and times of Jose Bautista, you'll see that the word "persistence," which we've all been lectured on throughout our lives, is what guided JoeyBats to his spot in baseball greatness.
This is the point that I have been building up to.
It is difficult for a person to make a personal connection with somebody with whom all they can relate is their play on the baseball diamond, and although baseball is full of stories where players are given bright futures away from the struggling economies of their home countries, 10 of these stories can be found on every team because of Major League Baseball's ever increasing initiatives in Latin America and other economically unsound countries across the globe (don't get me wrong, I am a supporter of the efforts made by the MLB to reach out to these countries).
This being said, Jose Bautista offers a story that so many people in North America can relate to and learn from.
He has put an end to what so many thought was a myth and proven that with persistence and belief in yourself, success can be obtained.
Had Bautista not persisted in playing baseball, even after being cast away by five teams in a single season, there would be no "Jose Bautista" (figuratively speaking, of course).
Had he not believed in himself when he finally arrived in Toronto and completely overhauled the swing he had been using for six years in the Majors (the most difficult change a position player can make), we would have been lucky to see Bautista match his career-high in home runs with 13 in 2010.
This is the difference that separates Jose Bautista from the majority of journeyman ballplayers, and this is the difference between mediocrity and success that we can all learn from.
What's arguably more impressive than that?
Imagine a kid who has played six years of house-league without a home run. Now, imagine the same kid when he finally does it. What to you expect to see? Arms in the air, maybe some hooting and hollering? Woo's and Yeah's?
Well that's what I would expect.
Take this scenario and multiply it by about a million, and you have Jose Bautista. The only thing is, he hit every one of his 54 home runs last year as if he had been doing it his whole life.
That is called professionalism.
In today's world of professional sports, it is not uncommon for star athletes to have a sometimes overconfident demeanour, otherwise known as cockiness.
However, Bautista, being the best player in baseball, takes his game one bat at a time, and his confidence manifests itself not in his fanship or Twitter followers, but in his success. He continues to be persistent and continues to believe in himself regardless of whether he hits 54 home runs or 15.
This gives him a title that fewer and fewer athletes can claim today: Role model.
And this word wraps everything that I've said into a neat package.
If nothing else, Jose Bautista is an ideal role model for children and adults alike, and as we hope for a follow-up season to his last, it is also valuable for us all to take a page out of Jose Bautista's book whenever we can and start looking towards ourselves for success, because he proves that this is the best place to find it.
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