Troy Tulowitzki plays this game the right way. He plays hard, has a better grasp than most with respect to right vs wrong, and isn’t one bit afraid to voice his opinion when he feels an opponent steps out of line. In Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay, Steven Souza Jr. slid into second base late and hard, and Tulowitzki was not about to let Souza get off without telling him exactly how he felt about that sloppy slide. Because Tulowitzki didn’t pull any punches when telling Souza what he thought about the play, it ended up evoking an equally heated response from Souza, prompting both benches to then spill out onto the field.
— The Fanatics View (@thefanaticsview) April 10, 2017
This isn’t the first time the Blue Jays have had a run in with Souza like this. Last season, after he hit a deep fly ball that appeared to be gone, but ended up being caught by Kevin Pillar on the warning track, Russell Martin in a respectful and friendly manner shouted out to Souza “thought you got all of that one” or something similar to that. Souza however misinterpreted what Martin said and went ballistic, bringing both teams onto the field, despite Souza being the final out of the game. Of all people to respond to Souza’s outburst towards Martin, it was Tulowitzki who wasn’t having any of this sort of behaviour, as he shouted at the Rays right fielder to get back to his dugout and let the Blue Jays enjoy their victory.
In the short time he’s been with the Rays, Souza has surely become a fun and entertaining opponent for the Blue Jays. Sure he plays the game with a bit of an edge, and sometimes makes the wrong decision (like he did yesterday with that slide into second), but you can tell there’s also a respect there that he has for the opposition. After both incidents with Souza and the Blue Jays, and he had a chance to calm down and realize what he’d done, he was sincere and apologetic about the way he acted. Souza isn’t a bad guy by any means, but to see the way Tulowitzki has responded to him last year and then again yesterday, he must be wondering if he did something to offend Tulo in another lifetime or something. I’ve only ever seen Tulowitzki erupt like this two times now, and on both occasions it was brought on by something Souza had done.
Souza and Tulowitzki aren’t the kind of players to keep their thoughts to themselves when they’re upset about something. They’re very similar in that regard, and will not back down from an argument. Even though on both occasions Tulowitzki and Souza were shouting in each others faces, you never got the feeling (at least I didn’t) that they’d come to blows. It was almost like a good natured type of argument (albeit fueled by plenty of testosterone), and after each player had made their case, cooler heads prevailed, and we got to enjoy yet another installment of what is becoming a running gag between Tulowitzki and Souza.