Since his move to the Mets at the trade deadline, the infielder is hitting .207/.258/.414 with three homers and five RBIs in 16 games. Fans have responded to his struggles at the plate by booing the former Chicago Cub, and during the Mets’ 9-4 victory on Sunday over the Nationals, Baez gave a thumbs-down sign to the crowd at Citi Field.
After the game, Baez explained his gesture to the media.
“We’re not machines,” Baez said. “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.”
Since the trade deadline, the Mets have a 9-20 record and have dropped from first place in the National League East to third, and out of the playoff picture.
“If we win together, then we got to lose together, and the fans are a really big part of it,” Baez said. “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.”
Mets president Sandy Alderson reacted in a statement on Sunday night, saying, “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,” Alderson said in the statement. “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.”
He added: “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.”
Baez, shortstop Francisco Lindor and other Mets players have been the subject of boos at home this season. Baez, Lindor and Kevin Pillar were among the players who displayed the thumbs-down gesture after getting hits.
Pillar downplayed the gesture on Twitter, writing that the team is just having fun and not to read too much into it.
Love y’all too! Felt nothing but love in NYC. No I’m not booing the fans. We are having fun. No different than earlier this year when we were churving 👌🏽. please don’t look to much into this. https://t.co/0jwnnN8mZ1
— Kevin Pillar (@KPILLAR4) August 29, 2021
Team owner Steve Cohen also took to Twitter in the aftermath, saying he missed “the days when the biggest controversy was the black jerseys,” referencing the return of the Mets’ black uniforms last month.
“These are young guys and sometimes we forget they are on a public stage and can make mistakes,” Cohen later told 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.”
Manager Luis Rojas said Baez will need to get used to the boos from the passionate Mets fan base.
“I haven’t had many conversations with Javy about that, everything’s been about the game,” Rojas said. “Getting to know Javy more and more every day, he’s an outstanding kid to be around. Javy being a new guy around here, getting to know our fan base. Some of the reaction that our fan base has, you see it’s something he’s learning. Our fans are like that; our fans are very passionate. They’re going to demand the best out of everyone here.”
Rojas said Mets fans have every right to boo and react when the team is not performing up to standard.
“Especially Mets fans, New York fans, this market, this city knows baseball probably more than any other city,” Rojas said. “They have the right to react however they want, and we got to understand where they’re coming from. Our job is to be ready every day to give them the best baseball.”