Jose Bautista with the Blue Jays.

If Sunday’s ball game against New York happens to be Jose Bautista’s final home appearance for the Blue Jays, he couldn’t have asked for a more fitting send off.

Very few of Toronto’s greatest players have got to finish their career while still playing for the Blue Jays.  For this reason, it makes it that much more special to have been able to hold onto Jose Bautista for all these years.

I can’t recall the last time I saw Blue Jay fans get the opportunity to show their appreciation for a player much like they did yesterday with Bautista.  Knowing full well that after 10 great seasons it’s likely the last they’ll see of him in a Blue Jays uniform at home.

As much respect as the fans and his teammates showered on Bautista yesterday, those feelings of respect were mutual.  The 6-time all-star left everything on the field against the Yankees on Sunday and gave everyone a proper showing of why he’s been one of the best in the game for all these years.  Bautista is a true professional and at times a stone-cold competitor, but you could see how the admiration from the fans and players touched his heart.

What Bautista brought to the Blue Jays (other than being a fabulous ball player) was the feeling of a team being a family.  With young players like Marcus Stroman and Kevin Pillar looking up to him much like an older brother. This concept of family is what makes seeing Bautista in what’s likely his last ever home game in Toronto so difficult to deal with.

As a fan of this ball club, when you turned on your TV, watched a game in person, or tuned-in on the radio, you had the comfort of knowing Bautista would be out there in right field and bringing his formidable presence to the heart of the Blue Jays line-up.  After so many wonderful years with the Blue Jays, the idea of him not being there next season is going to take some time to adjust to.

Whether it be Marcus Stroman warming up in a retro Bautista jersey, or the players letting him run onto the field by himself to begin the game, yesterday was all about Bautista and everything he’s done for this organization over the years.  On what was Bautista’s special day, the Blue Jays couldn’t have played a better ball game and honour one of the most important players to ever play for this franchise.

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