Mets owner Steve Cohen added to the admonishing of his players after infielder Javier Baez revealed that the thumbs-down gesture was a retaliatory signal toward a fan base that had been booing the team amidst an August freefall down the standings.
“These are young guys and sometimes we forget they are on a public stage and can make mistakes,” Cohen told Joel Sherman of the New York Post. “They hit the third rail, though, by messing with fans. And it is unacceptable. Hopefully, this is a teaching moment and they will learn from this.”
Baez raised eyebrows around baseball when explaining the Mets’ peculiar celebrations following their 9-4 victory over the Washington Nationals on Sunday.
“We’re not machines, we’re going to struggle. We’re going to struggle seven times out of ten,” Baez, who hit his fourth home run as a Met, said. “It just feels bad when I strike out and I get booed, it doesn’t really get to me, but I want to let them know that we’re going to do the same thing to let them know how it feels.
“If we win together, then we’re going to lose together and the fans are a really big part of it. In my case, they gotta 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 had not given their fans many reasons to cheer during the second half of the season. Since returning from the All-Star break, the Mets are 16-27 including a nightmare August in which they’ve gone 7-20. Take out their meetings with the lowly Washington Nationals and the Mets are just 3-19.
As frustrations continue to rise, team president Sandy Alderson was the first to call out Baez for his comments.
“Mets fans are understandably frustrated over the team’s recent performance,” Alderson wrote. “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. I will be meeting with our players and staff to convey this message directly.”