Javy Baez was the big trade deadline addition for the New York Mets, who were holding on to first-place in the NL East at the time of the deal. The Chicago Cubs slugger has a close relationship with Mets star Francisco Lindor, and the two were set to form one of the better middle infield combinations in the sport.
Soon after the trade, things fell apart for the Mets. Lindor missed almost a month with injury, one-time Cy Young and potential MVP candidate Jacob deGrom has been out since early July, and the Baez acquisition hasn’t been as fruitful as the tea had hoped.
It certainly isn’t all on him, but Baez’s strikeout problems have been significant with the Mets. He’s gone down on strikes in 22 of 66 plate appearances with the Mets, and is hitting just .210 with the team, with fewer hits and walks than K’s. He’s shown some pop, with four home runs so far, but the fans are growing weary of his offensive struggles, and the team’s as a whole.
In response to Mets fans’ boos, Lindor, who signed a massive 10-year deal with the team ahead of the 2021 season, and Baez began doing a “thumbs down” gesture after positive plays. Baez’s explanation did not go over well at all.
Javier Baez on the thumbs down sign Mets players have been flashing to the crowd after big hits: "To let [the fans] know when we don't get success we're going to get booed, so they are going to get booed when we have success."
— Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) August 29, 2021
The two infielders were ripped by management after the incident. From president Sandy Alderson:
“These comments, and any gestures by him or other players with a similar intent, are totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
“Mets fans are understandably frustrated over the team’s recent performance. 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.
Now, both Baez and Lindor have apologized. The former Cub says he didn’t mean to offend anyone, and apologizes if he did.
Javier Báez provides more context on the thumbs down celebration, and issues an apology to fans:
"I didn't mean to offend anybody. And if I offended anybody, we apologize." pic.twitter.com/WpYnQ1HNFd
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 31, 2021
“Right now, we’re just trying to stay together… We’re trying to leave this in the back and move forward and win the games,” Baez said. “This is something that I’ve done in the past against other teams. I did it in L.A. to the dugout. I said something wrong in that I was ‘booing the fans.’ I really meant like, ‘Boo me now,’ and not to the fans, to our dugout.
“I didn’t say the fans are bad, I love the fans, I just felt like we were alone. The fans obviously want to win and they pay our salary, like everyone says, but we want to win too, and the frustration got to us.”
Lindor echoed those sentiments.
"It was wrong and I apologize to whoever I offended. It was not my intent to offend people, we can't go against the fans."
– Francisco Lindor on the thumbs down pic.twitter.com/TAMWjSf9v5
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 31, 2021
Sorry to those who I offended!!
The ones I didn’t thank you for understanding!! #Loveyouguys
— Francisco Lindor (@Lindor12BC) August 31, 2021
Hopefully the New York Mets can move forward from this, though it may be too late to salvage the season with how poorly the team has played. After spending months in first-place, the team is now 63-67, and seven games back of the Atlanta Braves for the division lead.