Baseball will have Bieber Fever on Saturday. And it will be Good.

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When I saw that FOX is going to debut Justin Bieber’s new video prior to Game 3 tomorrow, my first impulse was to scoff, as people of a certain age and disposition always scoff at whatever teen sensation is out conquering the world at any given moment.

But my second thought is to appreciate the move as pretty brilliant. Not just for Justin Bieber’s marketability — who cares? — but for baseball’s.

Game 3 is the early start game, with the first pitch going down before 7PM.  The early start combined with all that Bieber Fever is going to ensure that a ton of young, impressionable minds are going to be watching.  While I predict that the vast majority of the Bieber people will go off to shop for glittery lip gloss or trade Silly Bandz or whatever it is Bieber people do once the video is over, even a tiny percentage of those folks is a big number of people. If they stay, and if they watch, baseball may do what it’s always accused of being unable to do, and that’s attract some young fans.

A pipe dream? Maybe. But not every baseball fan was created via a nice game of catch with dad or watching the Brooklyn Dodgers through a knothole or whatever the hell old Brooklyn Dodgers fans claim they used to do. Some fans just happened to see baseball on TV once and it caught their fancy.  If three minutes of bubblegum pop makes even a couple thousand new baseball fans, I for one will be happy to endure it.

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.