The Mets are imploding

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The losses are bad enough — New York has dropped nine of twelve games and have gone from a half-game down on June 27th to 6.5 down as of this morning — but now the clubhouse is starting to get ugly:

Alex Cora is mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.

The veteran utilityman, miffed by the laughter inside the Mets’ clubhouse after last night’s 3-2 loss to the Diamondbacks, fired venom in the direction of Mike Pelfrey and reporters who were joking at the pitcher’s locker.

Cora spouted an expletive in Spanish and raised his voice in the direction of Pelfrey and re porters as he de parted the clubhouse at Chase Field.

“A little respect, please!” Cora snapped. “They stuck it up our [butts].”

I imagine that, in light of this little outburst, people will start saying that the Mets’ chemistry was somehow disrupted recently, be it because Carlos Beltran came back or Oliver Perez is hanging around or Jeff Francoeur was benched or whatever.  Don’t buy it.

Cora’s little outburst is about a team that probably only figured to be .500 to begin with crashing back to Earth, not about some disruption in The Force or bad eggs or anything else.  It’s textbook “only winning teams have good chemistry” stuff, and it wouldn’t be rearing its head right now if the team were still winning.

Pelfrey’s laughter isn’t the problem. It’s his dead arm.  Bad chemistry isn’t hurting this team. Bad play is.  It’s that simple.

Alex Bregman shows how easy it is to manufacture “controversy” in baseball

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In most sports it takes legitimate trash talk to create off-day “controversy.” In baseball, it takes the weakest sauce. We saw how weak that sauce was yesterday.

Alex Bregman and the Houston Astros are going to face off against Nate Eovaldi and the Boston Red Sox in Game 3 of the ALCS tonight. It’s worth noting that earlier this season, they hit back-to-back-to-back home runs off of Eovaldi when he was pitching for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Yesterday, in an act which was likely somewhat inspired by self-motivation, somewhat inspired by getting in Eovaldi’s head and somewhat inspired by a simple interest in having fun, Bregman took the video of those back-to-back-to-back homers off of Eovaldi and posted it to his Instagram:

Of course, since this is baseball, where even farting off-key can be construed as “showing up” the opposition or somehow disrespecting the game, it became a thing. Or at least people tried to make it become a thing.

Indeed, it took them a bit to find someone who would help them make it a thing, because Eovaldi himself didn’t care about it a bit, nor did Astros manager A.J. Hinch or Red Sox manager Alex Cora. Eventually, however, they hit pay dirt. Here’s Sox infielder Steve Pearce talking to WEEI.com:

“Wow. I don’t know why he would do that. We do our talking on the field. If he wants to run his mouth now we’ll see who is talking at the end of the series.”

My guess is that almost no one on the planet, Steve Pearce included, would care about this in a vacuum or if they allowed themselves to think through it for more than a second. Baseball culture, though — and let’s be clear about it, baseball media culture — has conditioned most of its players and participants to think that stuff like this is supposed to be controversial, so it actually takes effort not to start dancing to this kind of tune on auto-pilot.

Kudos to Hinch, Cora and Eolvaldi for exerting that effort and not dancing to it. To the press that automatically sought out comment on this and Pearce who dutifully gave it: hey, I get it. It’s hard to resist one’s conditioning. Maybe you’ll be able to resist it next time.