- New York Mets players gave fans a thumbs-down gesture during a win on Sunday.
- Javier Baez said the gesture was a response to Mets fans who booed the team during an August slump.
- Team president Sandy Alderson called it “unacceptable.”
The New York Mets players heard lots of boos in the month of August. So now they’re giving the negativity back to fans.
During a 9-4 win over the Washington Nationals on Sunday, just the team’s eighth win of the month, Mets players were seen giving a thumbs-down gesture during the game.
After the game, infielder Javier Baez, a recent Mets acquisition, explained that the players are tired of being booed by fans, so decided to return the sentiment.
“We’re not machines,” Baez said, according to ESPN’s Joon Lee. “We’re going to struggle seven times out of 10. It just feels bad when … I strike out and get booed. It doesn’t really get to me, but I want to let them know that when we’re successful, we’re going to do the same thing to let them know how it feels.”
The Mets acquired Baez at the trade deadline in July. He has struggled in his 17 games with the team, hitting .202, with 4 home runs, 7 RBIs, and an on-base percentage of .258.
Baez was seen making the thumbs-down gesture with shortstop Francisco Lindor, who has also struggled on offense this season. The Mets traded for him last offseason, giving Lindor a 10-year, $341 million contract.
“If we win together, then we got to lose together, and the fans are a really big part of it,” Baez said, via ESPN. “In my case, they got to be better. I play for the fans and I love the fans, but if they’re going to do that, they’re just putting more pressure on the team and that’s not what we want.”
The Mets fell from first place in the NL East to third over the course of August, and to four games below .500. They were thought to be a dangerous team given their stellar pitching and the additions of Lindor and Baez. But instead, the Mets have struggled on offense and had to contend with injuries to Lindor, Baez, and ace Jacob deGrom, who has not pitched since early July.
Even Mets owner Steve Cohen took to Twitter earlier this month to vent about frustrations with the team’s offense: “It’s hard to understand how professional hitters can be this unproductive,” he wrote.
On Sunday, Mets president Sandy Alderson released a statement calling Baez’s recent comments “unacceptable.”
“Mets fans are understandably frustrated over the team’s recent performance,” the statement read. “The players and the organization are equally frustrated, but fans at Citi Field have every right to express their own disappointment. Booing is every fan’s right. The Mets will not tolerate any player gesture that is unprofessional in its meaning or is directed in a negative way toward our fans.”
Still, many fans and observers have expressed amusement at the whole situation.
—Bill DiFilippo (@billdifilippo) August 29, 2021
—Lang Whitaker (@langwhitaker) August 30, 2021
—Jason Hoffman (@JasonHoffman93) August 30, 2021
The Wall Street Journal called it “Seinfeldian.”
Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, however, criticized the players’ gesture, suggesting it was disrespectful to fans.
—Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay) August 30, 2021
ESPN’s Jay Williams, though, felt players have the right to speak out if they are getting booed.
—Jay Williams (@RealJayWilliams) August 30, 2021
And Cohen tweeted wistfully about past controversies.
—Steven Cohen (@StevenACohen2) August 30, 2021