Frustrations boiled over in the New York Mets clubhouse earlier this week when players Javy Baez, Francisco Lindor, and Kevin Pillar flashed a ‘thumbs down’ gesture during their win over the Washington Nationals on Sunday.
On Tuesday, Baez and Lindor apologized after an outcry from fans outraged by the gesture and heavy criticism both on social media and in statements by their own executives.
“I didn’t mean to offend anybody. This is something that I’ve done in the past against the other team," Baez said. "I did it in L.A. to the dugout…I didn’t say the fans are bad, like I love the fans. I just felt like we were alone. The fans obviously want to win, and they pay our salaries like everybody says, but we want to win, too. The frustration got to us. I didn’t mean to offend anybody. And if I offended anybody, we apologize.”
When asked the reasoning for their signal after Sunday's win, Baez told reporters that the thumbs down was in response to Mets fans booing players during their recent struggles, which have placed them seven games out of the NL East division lead.
Baez noted after Sunday's win over the Nationals that “when I strike out and I get booed, it doesn't really get to me. But I want to let [the fans] know when we have success, we're going to do the same thing to let them know how it feels. If we win together, then we've got to lose together. The fans are a really big part of it. They've got to be better.”
Baez tried to clarify to reporters Tuesday that the thumbs down were actually directed more towards the dugout, not the stands
Lindor echoed his teammate's statement, also apologizing for any offense that was caused by the players’ gestures. Lindor also agreed that the thumbs down were actually intended for the Mets’ dugout and not the fans.
“It was wrong and I apologize to whoever I offended," Lindor said. "It was not my intent to offend people. We can't go against the fans. I’ve never done it in my career. We play for the fans like Javy said…With that being said, I apologize and it doesn’t look good on our part.”
After the gesture in question, Mets president Sandy Alderson scolded the players involved via a statement given to the media.
“These comments [by Báez], 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 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.”
Thumbs aside, the Mets have been in a serious slump recently, hence the tensions between players and fans. They’ve gone 3-7 in their last ten games, plummeting to third in the NL East after ending July four games atop the division. They face the Miami Marlins at home this week before traveling to D.C. to take on the Nats again but with just 32 games to go their fate has likely been sealed for 2021.