Published 7:56 PM EDT Oct 15, 2018
HOUSTON -- It was Houston Astros All-Star Alex Bregman simply being Alex Bregman, showing off his swag, mixing in a little trolling, and the next thing anyone knew, his Instagram post was the biggest topic of conversation Monday before Game 3 of the American League Championship Series.
The Astros third baseman, who face Boston Red Sox starter Nate Eovaldi on Tuesday night, showed a clip on his Instagram account with the Astros hitting three consecutive homers off Eovaldi earlier this year when he was still with the Tampa Bay Rays.
It was a subtle dig similar to New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge walking by the Red Sox clubhouse playing New York, New York, after beating the Red Sox in Game 2 at Fenway Park in the AL Division Series.
While Eovaldi and the Red Sox insisted publicly they didn’t take any offense to the home-run clip, Astros manager A.J. Hinch wasted no time telling Bregman to delete it from his account.
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“Obviously, there’s fun banter,’’ Hinch said. “You go back and you hear New York, New York in Boston in the New York series. You get the different tweets and the different Instagram posts, and it’s all in good fun.
“And we have a sport full of great personalities and there’s a fine line. Is it disrespectful? No. If it crosses a line, if you have to question whether it crosses the line, it probably does.
“And so I don’t look any further into that.’’
If nothing else, Red Sox manager Alex Cora said, it at least has people talking about this series and the game of baseball rather than the Monday Night Football game.
“It’s always good that people talk about the game,’’ Cora said, “and if that's the reason they're talking about it, so be it. But from my end, I don't pay attention to that …
“People are paying attention, you know? Like the Judge thing was in every sports show, which is cool, I think. Like, we need more people to talk about the game. We're in a great time to be a baseball fan. I've been saying that the whole season. You look at those two teams, you know, it's like, wow. I've been talking about talent.
“Alex Bregman is one of the best players in the big leagues. And now, well, they're talking, not for the right reasons, but they're talking about it.
“And I think it's cool.’’
Could it actually motivate the Red Sox?
"If you need motivation in Game 3 of the ALCS,’’ Cora said, “you better check yourself, because you win three more games, you go to the Show. And that's what should motivate you. Alex has different ways of motivating himself. And whatever. I'll leave it at that.’’
The Astros, who arrived in Houston at 5 a.m., did not work out Monday, so Bregman was unavailable for comment. Yet, Eovaldi, who grew up in nearby Alvin, Texas, the hometown of Nolan Ryan, publicly said he had no issues with Bregman’s idea of either having fun, trying to get under his skin, or both.
“I still have a job to do,’’ said Eovaldi, who doesn’t have social media, but was told of the Instagram post. “I've got to go out there and pitch my game, and I can't have any distractions.’’
Who knows, maybe the Red Sox and Eovaldi get the last laugh, and when they leave Minute Maid Park on Tuesday night, they’ll be playing Deep in the Heart of Texas?
“I don’t take it personal,’’ Cora said. “I don’t play anymore. Probably when I was playing, I would be like, 'Here we go.’ But I don’t throw a ball. I don’t have to hit. I don’t make errors anymore. I just manage a team.’’
Let the show begin.