The Mets are not only losing games at a regular pace, but they are losing grace with their fanbase, and Javier Baez is the eye of the storm.
Mets manager Luis Rojas, if we are to believe him, had no idea what was going on in his dugout, unaware that some of his players had adopted a “thumbs down” hand signal intended to disparage fans who have taken to loudly booing the home team.
Javier Baez, Francisco Lindor, and Kevin Pillar all made the gesture during Sunday’s Mets’ 9-4 win against the Washington Nationals. The Mets won consecutive games this weekend but have lost 19 of 27 games in August as part of a plummet from first place in the National League East to third behind Atlanta and Philadelphia at 63-67.
Baez, who has slashed .210/.258/.452 in 17 games since being acquired from the Cubs, took the lead as spokesman for the group, telling the Athletic, “We’re not machines. We’re going to struggle. We’re going to struggle seven times out of 10″.
Perhaps Baez needs to go back for a refresher course in math, though, as his personal batting average says he’s “struggling” eight and not seven times out of 10.
Baez added, “It just feels bad. When I strike out, and I get booed, it doesn’t really get to me”, but if that’s true, then why say things that clearly suggest it does get to him.
Baez does, however, make one solid point when he says, “We are not machines,” and sometimes, in the face of players making millions and being treated like opera divas, as fans, we forget they are human with the same emotions as you and I.
Mets: Players And Fans – Two Different Interests
While we only see what we see on the field from players, they only see what they see from us as fans, and occasionally cheers turn to boos.
Javier Baez and others do not see the extravagant costs associated with attending a Mets game, expenses that easily rise to $500 for a family of four, after the tickets, hot dogs, ice cream, jersey, and parking weigh in.
If baseball’s “product” is entertainment, then we expect to be professionally entertained, just as we expect nothing less from our favorite band when we attend a concert. Anything less leaves us with the feeling that we’ve been cheated.
Mets: Alderson’s Lame Statement
To his credit, Mets President Sandy Alderson wasted no time in releasing a statement, condemning both the gesture and its intent, saying “it will not be tolerated.”
What that means, of course, is anyone’s guess, but I hope (at least) that Alderson means Baez has signed his ticket out of town, and the Mets will make no effort to re-sign him as a free agent.
There are no easy answers here, though. Losing brings frustration, and sometimes that turns into behavior unbecoming of our instincts and character.
As The Athletic pointed out today in its story, the word fan derives from “fanatic.” If we go a dictionary, we see fanatic described as “a person with an extreme and uncritical enthusiasm or zeal, as in religion or politics.”
Now, it’s not likely that when we think of ourselves as Mets fans, we equate to the Taliban’s “zeal.” In fact, politics and religion are two off-limit subjects here and elsewhere when baseball is the topic.
Mets: Fan Or Fanatic
So while nearly all Mets fans do not see themselves as “fanatics,” a fan who comes to a game to “boo” the team or a player, with the expressed desire to be heard, can be considered a fanatic and not representative of an average fan.
Apparently, some Mets players like Baez have elephant ears that hear everything, even when their job requires them to be focused on the game and not being easily distracted when the game is in progress.
A player like Baez should not be listening to the boos when he strikes out; he should be asking himself what went wrong in that at-bat, and how can I make an adjustment in my next at-bat, even to the point of rushing into the clubhouse to see the video of his wayward plate appearance.
The Mets as an organization do not want to sink to the level Baez et al. have brought them to because it’s a distinct reminder of the dysfunction we are all so familiar with during the Wilpon dynasty.
Steve Cohen has pointedly said one of his goals is to change the culture of the Mets.
This is an opportune time to make good on that promise by authorizing Alderson to fine Baez, Lindor, and Pillar a handsome sum – including any others who have partaken in the slur to the Mets organization and its fans.
“Will not be tolerated” from Alderson is lame, and it implies that a warning has been issued, even in the face of the damage having already been done.
Mets Fanatics Do Not Get A Pardon
Mets fans do not get a pardon either. Booing is one thing, and it certainly falls under the provisions of the First Amendment. Still, just two weeks ago, With the score tied 4-4 in the top of the ninth inning, a green laser light was seen flashed onto the face of Dodgers batter Max Muncy, forcing play to be interrupted for a few minutes.
The culprit was never identified, but clearly, an action like that threatens the safety of a player and has no place in baseball.
Ironically, in a court of law, Baez and the others could claim that they were merely expressing their right to free speech, and that’s it – case closed.
But wearing a Mets uniform carries a responsibility to act professionally and represent the team in the same way, because lost in all of this are (presumably) the 23 other Mets players who did not take part in the thumbs down gesture. Still, as a “team,” they are lumped in with the few who did.
Like many episodes of this kind over a six-month schedule, this story is not likely to have “legs” and will soon be forgotten.
This is why if Alderson’s statement is meant to have teeth in it, he needs to act quickly and decisively with formal disciplinary procedures, and if he doesn’t – well, that tells us something too…
Here’s What Readers Are Saying…
Jeff Swysh Going to be interesting at the end of the season when Baez’s contract negotiation comes up. He ASKED To come here and play with Lindor. He might have just cost himself a good chunk of cash.
Peter Sitro Are the Mets going to actually play a guy who attacks Met fans during the game? Sit his ass and suspend his ass!
Robert Goldzman Must Read. This is not about Baez, who’s been here for 5 minutes and will be here for another 10. It’s about Lindor. He was brought here to be the face of the franchise for the next decade, a leader both on and off the field. And what is he doing? He’s trolling the fans. That’s what this is all about, whether it’s right or wrong, although the man who signs the paychecks said it’s wrong ( with no ambiguity ). The man who was supposed to lead our franchise is weak and petty. The man who was supposed to lift the Mets to annual contender has made them even a bigger laughingstock. He’s not a fit for New York. Get used to hearing “We’ll be able to make moves once we get out from the Lindor contract”. Same Old Mets. Fuck.
Darrell Johnson Too bad the trading deadline has passed or we could ship him & Lindor back to where they came from so they could have a more calm fan base Risky, but to send a message the Mets can release them on waivers, though it’s doubtful any team would make a claim.
Billy Ansbach Dr. Mr. Baez, thank you for the test drive but I don’t think this will work out. Yours truly, Steve
Mary Ann Grennen Very well said. In my case, if I’m lucky, I can only afford to go to one game at Citifield a year. Coming from Central Jersey, in addition to everything else you mentioned, we also spend a fortune on tolls. Because of my husband’s medical issues, (especially during Covid) we cannot take a chance on public transportation.
Closing Comments And Final Thoughts
Comments keep coming but I have to close them.
This one is unanimous – Baez is persona non grata with the Mets. Fans are ticked, but it ain’t over until the fat lady (Alderson/Cohen) sings…