Cole Hamels, Matt Kemp to grace Big League Chew packaging

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If you played Little League baseball as a kid, the sight of Big League Chew wrappers lining the ground inside the dugout is an all too familiar scene. The wrappers, commonly graced with the visages of angry, muscly baseball players, will be getting a facelift. ESPN’s Darren Rovell has the details:

Shredded gum brand Big League Chew will debut national packaging that will feature an active athlete — Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp — instead of the cartoon characters that have existed on more than 500 million pouches since Big League Chew first hit shelves 33 years ago. In June, a picture of Kemp will adorn the front of the gum package.

The brand, through a partnership with PLB Sports, a maker of athlete-endorsed food products, also has signed Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels.

As Sean Manning notes for Esquire, it isn’t the first time Big League Chew has had real players adorn its packaging. Hall of Famers Juan Marichal, Billy Williams, and Brooks Robinson were part of the program for a promotion in the late 1990’s.

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.