Beloved Chicago Cubs 2016 championship hero Javier Báez has had a rough go since being traded to the New York Mets ahead of the 2021 trade deadline. He was acquired to bolster the middle infield following an injury to star shortstop Francisco Lindor, but after just ten games in the Big Apple, El Mago ended up on the Injured List due to back spasms. He was hitting just .210/.258/.452 with his new team as of August 29, a dropoff in performance that can be attributed to injury problems.
Báez is not the only Mets hitter who is struggling. Out of all qualifying batters on the Queens squad, only Pete Alonso and Brandon Nimmo own an OPS above .800 (as of August 30). Not surprisingly, the noodle bats have sunk a team with high expectations coming into the season. The Mets are third place in the National League East Division with a record of 63-67, seven games out of the second Wild Card spot. As the season heads into the home stretch, the Mets are 3-7 over their last ten games.
Mets fans, not known for their patience, have loudly expressed their frustration. Three Mets players decided to return the favor today during their 9-4 victory over the Washington Nationals by acknowledging the fans with thumbs-down gestures.
Francisco Lindor, Javier Báez and Kevin Pillar were among those Mets players to flash thumbs-down signs after their hits today.
"When we don't get success, we're going to get booed," Báez explained afterward. "So they [the fans] are going to get booed when we get success." pic.twitter.com/TGX55fQM2O
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) August 29, 2021
This led to an immediate furor on social media with pearl clutching by the usual suspects.
It’s impossible to think of another prospective free agent making a bigger public relations mistake then Javier Baez did today. Burned one bridge, and likely severely damaged his chances w other teams. Francisco Lindor needs to prepare an explanation for his participation, too.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) August 30, 2021
For years we have – justifiably – fricasseed @Mets management and ownership endlessly.
But this from Javy Baez is THE dumbest thing ever to come out of CitiField. He and any other player who “boos” the fans can shove this up their ass. And @StevenACohen2 should get rid of them. pic.twitter.com/P0NklgDgaF
— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) August 29, 2021
I can think of a number of much more shameful actions involving the Mets organization in recent years, such as their handling of sexual misconduct allegations against former manager Mickey Callaway, the former owners’ ties to Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, and the team’s decision to acquire José Reyes in 2016 after the infielder spent the beginning of the season on suspension for a domestic violence incident.
But baseball media at large is not interested in holding the Mets accountable for past embarrassments to Major League Baseball. Uncomfortable conversations about the hostile work environment for women in sports, owners’ mismanagement and domestic violence in the league aren’t nearly as sexy as the narrative of a heel turn by a star who is involved in his community and has helped grow baseball’s international profile.