It had come to this in The Saga of Joey Bats: On a chilly April Friday in Kansas City, the visiting Toronto Blue Jays had somehow scratched their way back into a 2-2 tie with the Royals. In the top of the eighth, things got interesting.
There were runners on second and third. No out. Royals reliever Greg Holland, a flame-throwing righty, was starting to labor against the Jays' No. 2 hitter, left-handed Kelly Johnson.
Jose Bautista, Toronto's right-handed slugger, was on deck. Kansas City manager Ned Yost had a decision to make. Put the pressure on Johnson, a second baseman who'd come into the night with a .214 career average against the Royals? Or Bautista, an All-Star outfielder who was toting a .274 career mark against Kansas City? Johnson, who's hit 50 home runs since 2010? Or Bautista, who's mashed 99?
Yost didn't hesitate. He elected to intentionally walk Johnson, loading the bases.
He wanted Joey Bats.
Sometimes, baseball is a game of feel. Instinct. In Yost's defense...