Mets Issue Reminder That MLB Players Are the Biggest Babies in Pro Sports
Javier Báez and other Mets have been giving the thumbs-down gesture to their home crowd
During a 9-4 win over the Washington Nationals on Sunday, Javier Báez and his New York Mets teammates Francisco Lindor and Kevin Pillar were all seen giving the thumbs-down gesture toward their home crowd in Queens after making positive plays that aided in the win, just the team’s third in the last 10 games.
“When we don’t get success, we’re going to get booed,” Báez explained afterward. “So they’re going to get booed when we have success.”
Báez, a two-time All-Star acquired from the Chicago Cubs last month who is batting .210 with 22 strikeouts in 62 at-bats since being traded, later said Mets players have been making the hand signal toward fans after big hits in response being jeered for their poor play during August, a month that has seen the team go 8-19 and fall from first place in the NL East to third, 7.5 games behind the division-leading Atlanta Braves.
“These comments, and any gestures by him or other players with a similar intent, are totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” Mets president Sandy Alderson said in a statement. “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. 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.”
Like little kids, Báez and his buddies are going to get a talking-to from Alderson and be reminded that they are grown men who are getting paid handsomely to play a children’s game and that their salaries are partly financed, quite substantially, by the fans they are giving the thumbs down to.
That they feel entitled to make negative gestures toward the fans is no surprise. MLB players enjoy fully guaranteed salaries and are members of the most powerful union in all of professional sports, the MLBPA. In general, established Major League Baseball players are compensated quite well in comparison to other pro athletes and have a union that will gladly go to bat for them to handle any grievances. In Báez’s individual case, he’s making $11.65 million to hit .242 and is headed to free agency during the offseason. He likely isn’t going to stick around in New York, so what does he care about offending the fans or acting like a professional? He doesn’t.
“In my case, they’ve got to be better,” Báez said. “I play for the fans. I love the fans. But if they’re going to do that, they just put more pressure on the team. That’s not what we want.”
Thing is, on a macro level, it’s not about what Báez or his Mets teammates want. It’s about what the fans who pay their salaries with money they work for, not play a game for, want. The customer, as long as they aren’t doing anything that goes over the line, is always right. They can cheer if they want. They can boo if they want. In essence, it is a real-time performance review. Imagine if you gave your boss a thumbs down after a poor performance review. You’d be at risk of getting fired and losing your salary. Thanks to the MLBPA and his guaranteed contract, Báez has no such risk and is free to act, and react, how he wants.
Like a big baby who forgot sticks and stones may break his bones but boos won’t, or at least shouldn’t, ever hurt him.
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