In a matter of 10 days, the New York Mets lost their division lead to the Atlanta Braves and their wild card playoff series against the San Diego Padres.
But on Sunday night, they might’ve lost a little dignity, too.
Trailing the Padres 4-0 in the final game of the best-of-three series, the Mets apparently griped that San Diego pitcher Joe Musgrove was shutting them down with the help of a foreign substance to doctor the 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 just sweat.
The umps stopped the game and gathered around the mound. One ump checked out Musgrove’s hat, glove... and ears.
You can see Musgrove gamely playing along and his various teammates’ reactions ― including one who shakes his head in disbelief:
The umps found nothing and play continued.
After the game, Showalter was unapologetic, saying the team is “privy” to 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 charged with doing what’s best for the New York Mets,” he said. “If it makes me look however it makes me look or whatever, I’m going to do it every time and live with the consequences.”
One of the more immediate consequences was this reaction from Musgrove after he got out of the inning:
“I mean, I get it dude,” Musgrove said after the game. “They’re on their last leg, they’re desperate. They’re doing 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: He was on the infamous 2017 Astros, which used an elaborate ― and illegal ― sign-stealing scheme as they ultimately won a World Series that even Musgrove himself isn’t proud of.
“I still don’t feel great about wearing that ring around or telling people that I was a World Series champion on that team,” he admitted to the Associated Press last week. “I want one that feels earned and that was a true championship. So that’s the goal.”
He ultimately threw seven innings, giving up just one hit and a 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 Musgrove’s ear-check: