Juan Soto is a great baseball player, and he's also one of Major League Baseball's most enjoyable personalities. He gets super intense in the batter's box, he's not afraid to show his emotions, and he generally makes good things happen.
Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto isn't nearly as demonstrative as Soto, but he's the best catcher in the game, so it makes sense that Soto - never one to back down - would enjoy going against someone on his level.
After the Phillies' 8-6 win over the Nationals on Monday, Soto talked to reporters about why he loves dueling with Realmuto in the batters box. It's just a great answer:
"For me, I just say hi. My first at-bat I say hi to the umpire, say hi to Realmuto. Mostly, in my at-bats, I am just talking with Realmuto. He’s a really nice guy. We just talking to each other. Sometimes we are talking trash to each other and we just try to have fun at that time. He tries to do his job, I try to do mine. We're just talking.
"I don’t try to talk too much with umpires. Sometimes they take it the wrong way, and they can throw me out. I just try to calm down, talk to Realmuto, try to have a good time there.
"He's one of my favorites because he is always happy. He don’t mind. He just tries to do his job behind there. Some catchers, they are always mad. They always try to get you. That’s why I don’t talk with everybody. I just try to be nice with them. But Realmuto, he’s a really nice guy. He always tries to get me and we just fight each other."
I love that Soto and Realmuto, two guys at the top of their respective crafts, are constantly trash-talking each other - but in what seems to be a good-natured way. That's exactly what I'm looking for.
Because, ultimately, it's just a game. Being able to go after each other at the highest level but not making it personal is the peak of sports entertainment.
On Monday night, Soto was victorious against Realmuto, hitting a pair of two-run home runs in four at-bats, including one in the top of the ninth as Brandon Workman and Realmuto tried to end the game. Workman left a breaking ball over the plate and Soto hit it 409 feet off the end of his bat.
The two stars go at it again on Tuesday night. I can't wait to see what Soto and Realmuto bring for each other.