Thumbs Down: Mets players vs. fans is imbecilic and taking attention away from what matters most

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Francisco Lindor Javier Baez thumbs down TREATED
Francisco Lindor Javier Baez thumbs down TREATED

After Sunday's win over the Washington Nationals breathed some more life into a Mets team that has collapsed to the point where their playoff hopes are remote, Javier Baez ignited a Mets players against the fans fiasco.

When asked about the Mets' "thumbs down" celebration, which has also been done by Francisco Lindor and others, Baez explained that it is something that is directed to the fans in response to their booing to "let them know how it feels."

Baez added that Mets players "can't have our fans against us."

Kevin Pillar also weighed in, saying he's not booing the fans, but "having fun" with the thumbs down celebration.

In response to Baez's comments, Mets president Sandy Alderson released a statement on Sunday night where he said "any gestures by (Baez) or other players with a similar intent are totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated."

Then on Monday, owner Steve Cohen said the behavior by the players "hit the third rail" by "messing with fans."

As this absolutely imbecilic situation is dissected, I'll first point out the obvious -- that booing your own players for anything but lack of effort is pointless and counterproductive.

That doesn't mean that fans don't have a right to boo. They do.

And it doesn't mean that fans shouldn't be furious over the play of a team that has turned a 54-46 record into a 63-67 record over the last month. They should be absolutely livid.

Aug 24, 2021; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (left to right), center fielder Brandon Nimmo (9), infielder Brandon Drury (35), catcher James McCann (33) and injured starting pitcher Jacob deGrom (48) watch during the ninth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Citi Field.
Aug 24, 2021; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (left to right), center fielder Brandon Nimmo (9), infielder Brandon Drury (35), catcher James McCann (33) and injured starting pitcher Jacob deGrom (48) watch during the ninth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Citi Field.

Additionally, Baez saying he isn't a machine and has feelings is a fair thing for him to point out.

The main issue here, though, is the on-field reaction from the players to the booing. And it's the reaction from Lindor that could make things worse for him, depending on whether or not he addresses the situation and what he says if he does. For Baez, it probably won't matter much, with him set for free agency after the season.

As Lindor has struggled in his first year in New York, he has been open about the need for him to be better and about the need for the team to be better.

But going from being critical about yourself in front of reporters to showing up the fans on the field is not the way to do it.

Lindor and Baez and the other Mets who have been booed this season are of course not the first big-name Mets to get that kind of treatment. Mike Piazza was booed during his first few weeks with the team in 1998 (which was ridiculous) and Carlos Beltran was booed mercilessly at times in 2005 (which was similarly ridiculous).

Neither Beltran or Piazza took on the fans, though Beltran had to be pushed out of the dugout in early 2006 to take a curtain call.

By taking on the fans now, Mets players are simply pouring gasoline on a fire that is already raging due largely to the inability of the offense to score runs. It is that inability that has turned what looked like a team that was charging toward a division title into a team that needs a miracle to reach the postseason.

Aug 24, 2021; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets second baseman Javier Baez (23) throws the ball to New York Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor (12) after San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey (not pictured) grounds out during the first inning at Citi Field.
Aug 24, 2021; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets second baseman Javier Baez (23) throws the ball to New York Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor (12) after San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey (not pictured) grounds out during the first inning at Citi Field.

It should also be pointed out that tons of Mets fans don't boo, so taking on an entire fanbase -- made up of lots of people who have never been "against" you -- makes absolutely zero sense. Additionally, booing doesn't necessarily mean fans are against you. It usually just means they're pissed.

What also made little sense was Alderson releasing a statement about this, since it just breathed more air into something that really didn't need any more air breathed into it. The situation is that dumb, and could've been shut down internally.

If anyone was going to deal with this, it should've been Luis Rojas, who has been largely terrific this season when it comes to handling the clubhouse and being a public face for the Mets in front of the media.

But speaking after Sunday's game and after Baez took on the fans, Rojas -- who said the fans have a right to react however they want -- needed to come down harder on the players against the fans situation and call it unacceptable. He did not.

That is not a good look for Rojas, whose even demeanor usually hits the mark. It did not hit the mark on Sunday.

Aug 24, 2021; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets manager Luis Rojas (19) walks to the mound to make a pitching change during the fourth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Citi Field.
Aug 24, 2021; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets manager Luis Rojas (19) walks to the mound to make a pitching change during the fourth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Citi Field.

The result of all of this has been the national media having an absolute field day with the Mets, who were already getting torched -- and rightfully so -- for their collapse.

And this is taking the attention away from where it should be.

The attention should be on why the Mets have failed so spectacularly in August and how to fix it heading into 2022.

It should be on whether Rojas, whose contract is up, will be back next season.

It should be on whether the front office will be remade again.

It should be on the health of Jacob deGrom, who is working his way back from an elbow issue, and the health and Mets future of Noah Syndergaard, who has COVID-19.

It should be on winning games in bunches in an effort to salvage a season that seems lost.

What it should not be on is players who are underperforming starting a beef with a segment of fans who are voicing their displeasure.