The New York Mets had an earful of trouble with San Diego Padres hurler Joe Musgrove Sunday night, sending the Pads into Los Angeles for a best-of-five series with the Dodgers under less-than-ideal circumstances.
Not only did the Padres gel in a way they hadn’t in months in a three-game defeat of the supposed powerhouse Mets, but they also appeared to be covered in gel, even though the umpires found nothing suspicious.
Entering the sixth inning of Game 3, Mets manager Buck Showalter succumbed to Twitter pressure, it seemed, and tried to investigate the screenshot that had been flummoxing online baseball fans since the early innings.
Musgrove’s ear certainly appeared to be shiny, as he mowed down Met after Met. But did a shiny-eared picture of a television screen merit a thorough investigation?
According to Buck and the Mets, absolutely. The game halted, and the umpires gave Musgrove a rubdown. It did nothing but further embolden the Padres, just in time for them to head to Dodger Stadium.
Joe Musgrove’s suspicious ear substance will be Dodgers’ problem in NLDS
When the umpires removed their fingers from Musgrove’s ears (and placed them back in their own ears, in case a manager had a valid gripe with the strike zone or something), it essentially signified the end of the game. Musgrove then retired the side in order in the sixth, gestured to the Mets’ dugout, and woke nobody up; New York continued slumbering until their postseason lives were over.
The sequence embarrassed even those on the Mets’ payroll, and sent a warning shot to the Dodgers: the second-half Padres people kept telling them to be worried about in August may finally have arrived.
Now, nothing changes the Dodgers’ dominance of the Padres in recent seasons. Those games have been banked. They’re in the vault. This is a “little brother” rivalry where the home team for Games 1 and 2 went 14-5 in the 2022 season series.
Though the Mets series proved the pitching will eventually get more fearsome, the series will also begin with Mike Clevinger on the mound for San Diego, who sported a 4.33 ERA and 1.198 WHIP on the season, but more importantly posted a 9.69 ERA in three starts against the Dodgers this year.
Musgrove’s breakout performance, and resulting sneer, isn’t any reason to suddenly select the Padres in this short series over a 111-win team that has earned the benefit of the doubt against their NL West rival.
But Dodgers fans would’ve been much more confident if Sunday night hadn’t played out the way it did, fueling San Diego’s disrespect grievance along the way.
Look on the bright side, though. It’s not too late for the Dodgers to get some shiny oil, vaseline, or Vicks VapoRub for a last-second spin rate adjustment.
Two can play at this game. Not the first time Musgrove has been a thorn in the Dodgers’ sides, either. But you didn’t ‘ear that from me.