In a span of 10 days, the New York Mets lost their division lead to the Atlanta Braves and their wild-card playoff series to the San Diego Padres.
But on Sunday night, they may have lost a little dignity.
Trailing the Padres 4-0 in the final game of the best-of-three series, the Mets apparently sensed that San Diego pitcher Joe Musgrove was shutting them down with the help of a foreign substance to cure baseball.
So Mets manager Buck Showalter had the umps check him out — including his ears, which were glistening with what the team and its fans seemed to think was more than sweat.
The umps stopped the game and gathered around the mound. One checked Musgrove’s hat, glove… and ears.
You can see Musgrove playing playfully and the reactions of his various teammates – including one shaking his head in disbelief:
The umps found nothing and the game continued.
After the game, Showalter was unapologetic, saying the team doesn’t know any more information, that he “loves” Musgrove as a pitcher and that he feels “kind of bad about it.” according to the LA Times.
“I’m bound to do what’s best for the New York Mets,” he said. “If it makes me look the way it makes me look or whatever, I’ll do it every time and live with the consequences.”
One of the most immediate consequences was this reaction from Musgrove after he left the inning:
“I mean, I get it man,” Musgrove said after the game. “They are on their last leg, they are desperate. They do everything they can to get me out of the game at that point. It is what it is.”
It wouldn’t be the first time Musgrove was part of a cheating club: It was on the infamous 2017 Astros, who used an elaborate — and illegal — plate-stealing scheme as they eventually won a World Series that even Musgrove himself isn’t proud of for.
“I still don’t feel great about wearing that ring or telling people I was a World Series champion on that team,” he admitted to The Associated Press last week. “I want one where I feel like I won and it was a real championship. So that’s the goal.”
He eventually threw seven innings, giving up just one hit and one walk while recording five strikeouts, as the Padres won 6-0 to advance to the next round.
But on Twitter, all the talk was about checking out Musgrove’s ears: