With the New York Mets trailing 4-0 to the San Diego Padres in the sixth inning of an elimination game, it was clear the home team needed a spark. However, manager Buck Showalter’s idea to provide that spark sent the internet into a frenzy.
Before the inning ended, Showalter met with the umpires and asked that they inspect Padres starting pitcher Joe Musgrove for foreign substances. Through five innings, Musgrove had allowed just one hit, a single by Pete Alonso in the fourth inning. The refs then inspected Musgrove at Showalter’s request, paying particular attention to his… ears?
Mets manager Buck Showalter requested a substance test on Joe Musgrove.
The umpires looked at Musgrove’s hand, glove, hat and ears.
They found nothing and Musgrove stayed in the game. pic.twitter.com/UVyzzuTK3T
— ESPN (@espn) October 10, 2022
The incident caused a frenzy of jokes on social media.
While the request from Showalter may have been made to try to throw Musgrove off his game, it didn’t have the desired impact. The Padres starter enjoyed another 1-2-3 inning after the substance control, getting a groundout from Eduardo Escobar, a strikeout from Tomas Nido and a flyout from Brandon Nimmo.
After Nido’s punchout, Musgrove appeared to share a reaction toward Showalter and the Mets:
Wil Myers & Daniel Vogelbach called back and forth during the inning.
After the Mets retired the order, Joe Musgrove looked back at Buck Showalter and pinched his ear.
Musgrove allowed one hit in six innings. His spin has gone up a bit. It might be a little boosted.
— Kevin Acee (@sdutKevinAcee) October 10, 2022
While Musgrove passed the in-game inspection, that didn’t stop speculation on social media that he used something to stay locked up. Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Andrew McCutchen speculated that Musgrove may have been using “red hot” to stay in the zone while on the mound:
Here you go. I guarantee Musgrove has Red Hot in his ears. Pitchers use this as a mechanism to stay locked in during games. It burns like crazy and IDK why some guys think it helps, but it’s not “sticky” by any means. Buck is smart. She might just be trying to throw him off.
— Andrew McCutchen (@TheCUTCH22) October 10, 2022
This is definitely one way to stay focused.
Musgrove returned to bat for the bottom of the seventh, and despite walking leadoff hitter Starling Marte, managed to get out of the game unscathed. He got shortstop Francisco Lindor to ground out to first base, with Marte advancing to second, and then Alonso lined out to right field for the second out of the inning. Second baseman Jeff McNeil then grounded out to first to end the inning.
But not the jokes on social media.