The Toronto Blue Jays picked up a huge win on Monday night, beating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2. But it was immediately after the game when the fireworks started thanks to some weird miscommunication.
The Jays recorded the final out when Rays outfielder Steven Souza Jr. flied out to center field, just missing a go-ahead 2-run home run.
Then, seemingly inexplicably, the benches cleared and there was nearly a huge brawl on the field until order was restored.
Here is the Cliff’s Notes version of how the brawl nearly happened:
- Jays catcher Russell Martin tried to compliment Souza.
- Souza misheard Martin, thought he was mad, and tried to apologise to Martin.
- Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki thought Souza was mad and came running in with his hair on fire.
That’s the short version. Now here is the paraphrased version, with many of the details provided by Mark Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times who spoke with both Martin and Souza after the game.
When Souza hit the long fly ball, he thought it was a home run. He readily admitted after the game that he stood there and watched it a little too long.
According to both Souza and Martin, somewhere between Souza standing at home plate and beginning to run to first, Martin tried to compliment Souza, saying something along the lines of “I thought you got that one.”
“I just told him he crushed that ball,” Martin said after the game. “I thought he [hit a home run].”
Souza didn’t hear what Martin said and thought he was angry about Souza watching the ball too long.
After the ball was caught, Souza was standing near first base with his hands on his head. At that point, he says he went to apologise.
“I thought Russ was saying something about it, which would have been on me, totally,” Souza said. “And I was saying, ‘Dude, I’m sorry, I thought I got it.'”
In this clip from Sportsnet, you can see Martin and closer Roborto Osuna are looking in the direction of Souza and at first appear to be confused. Martin appears to say, “I thought you got it,” and at that point, it seems like everything is cleared up.
Meanwhile, Tulowitzki saw this from afar and clearly didn’t understand what was going on. He decided to fight first and ask questions later.
Tulowitzki saw Souza and Martin talking and apparently thought they were yelling at each other. He came running in to set the world on fire. Notice that Souza at this point was actually giving Martin a thumbs up sign.
According to Souza, Tulo said something “below the belt.” That’s when Souza got angry, at Tulowitzki and the benches cleared.
In Tulowitzki’s defence, two pitches before the fly ball, Osuna mistakenly thought he had struck out Souza on a foul tip that was dropped by the catcher (he did not see the ball fall). Osuna started his post-game celebration and had to be interrupted by teammates.
Tulowitzki would not comment after the game. However, it is plausible that he thought Souza was upset about about the premature celebration and was yelling at Osuna.
Eventually, order was restored. Souza even sought out Martin to clear the air and again said something akin to “my bad.”
Baseball. It’s amazing.
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