The New York Mets entered the National League Wild Card series as heavy favorites to eliminate the San Diego Padres and move on to face the historically dominant Los Angeles Dodgers in the Division Series.
The favorites did not pay off.
Instead, the Mets were thoroughly dominated by the Padres on Sunday night, thanks in large part to starting pitcher Joe Musgrove, who was nearly unhittable over seven shutout innings.
Musgrove was so good, in fact, that Mets manager Buck Showalter apparently didn’t believe it was entirely legitimate.
Showalter asked the umpires to check Musgrove for a sticky substance, which is when things got, well, weird.
Umpire Alfonso Marquez went over to do the check, and got up close and personal, checking behind his ears and rubbing the side of his face:
Checking for banned substances has become a part of baseball, happening after every inning or when new relievers enter the game.
But rarely do you see the umpires get so…intimate with the players.
Normally, it’s a cursory rub of their hands, to ensure it’s nothing egregious.
This was much more intrusive than that.
The Mets might have seen Musgrove going to his hair repeatedly, leading them to think he was using something, or maybe they were surprised at the movement on his pitches.
Either way, the umpires didn’t find anything and the game moved on. Although Musgrove clearly didn’t appreciate the extra check, taking the opportunity to poke fun at the Mets and their fans by pointing behind his ear:
The Padres won 6-0 and move on to face the Dodgers, with opening pitch of Game 1 in Los Angeles at 9:37pm Eastern on Tuesday, October 11th.
Seems unlikely the Dodgers will ask for a check on Musgrove in that series.