The New York Mets are currently third in the NL East Division, and second baseman Javier Baez’s 444-foot home run last night was a major highlight in their 9-4 victory over the Washington Nationals. However, the electrifying slugger wasn’t a hit with Citi Field fans after his celebration: Baez rounded the bases and pointed two thumbs down as he crossed home plate.
The Mets started the 2021 season promisingly but have since watched their playoff hopes dwindle, and they only have a 2.2% chance of making the postseason now. But Baez decided that very positive moment was also the right time for his public display of grievances.
“It 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 when we have success, we’re going to do the same thing, to let [fans] know how it feels,” he told reporters postgame. “…They got to be better. I play for the fans and love the fans. If they’re going to do that, they’re going to put more pressure on the team.”
New York is a notoriously tough sports town, and the Mets have not won the World Series in three-and-a-half decades despite an estimated value of $2.45 billion. Fellow Metropolitans Francisco Lindor and Kevin Pillar also joined Baez in “thumbs down” celebrations of their own. But one major Met gave the whole “thumbs down” a huge thumbs down of his own – president Sandy Alderson.
“Mets fans are understandably frustrated over the team’s recent performance,” Alderson said in a lengthy statement about the incident. “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.”
Alderson continued, “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.” The Mets Twitter page also posted a photo of former pitcher Frank “Tug” McGraw Jr. with the hashtag, “YaGottaBelieve” and a “thumbs up” pose.
Earlier this month, The Athletic ran an article suggesting Mets fans would love Baez for “unapologetically being himself.” And based on existing video, the Mets have been engaging in the “thumbs down” performance for some time. But it now looks like Baez being Baez has now sparked a thumb war with Alderson and the Mets faithful.
Take a look at some of the reactions from Mets fans as well as Kevin Pillar’s two cents on the whole situation.