One of the unwritten rules in baseball goes something like this: “Thou shalt not draw ire from one’s own fans.” Apologies for the Old English, but maybe that’s why these things aren’t actually written.
But this past weekend, that rule was violated in Queens when Javy Baez gave the ‘thumbs down’ gesture to the Citi Field faithful. In a win no less.
And worse still, after hitting a mammoth home run to give the Mets a lead they would not relinquish against the Nationals. Francisco Lindor and Michael Conforto joined their teammate in the faux celebration with Baez claiming ‘tit-for-tat’ as to why he would stoop to such depths.
“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.”
Bye Bye Javy Baez
As you might imagine, the New York fan base didn’t take kindly to their new infielder’s decision. The New York Post had a field day with back page headlines with gems like “This Boo’s for You,” “Thumb War,” and “Go To Hell New York.”
Baez played in Chicago for the first seven and a half years of his MLB career, before being traded to the Mets at this past July’s deadline. Baseball in the Midwest is vastly different than it is on the East Coast in terms of fan involvement and scrutiny.
Daniel Jones is nearly picked off on third down.
I heard a few boos. I hope Javy Baez is OK.
— Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoSNY) August 29, 2021
A veteran should know all that already but if you want to give him any benefit of the doubt, he’s never been under this type of microscope before. And we’re talking about a two-time All-Star, a former NLCS MVP and a World Series champion.
And with his contract coming up this offseason, he just wrote his own one-way ticket out of New York. And both sides will be better off for it.
We may have a little Dennis Schroder situation on our hands once the Mets’ season reaches its merciful conclusion this fall. If you recall, Schroder turned down a lucrative extension from the Lakers early on in the NBA season, only to struggle during his lone run in L.A., ultimately landing a one-year mid-level exception deal from the Boston Celtics.
Baez reportedly turned down an offer from the Cubs earlier this year that would have paid him in the ballpark of $180 million, and he wound up a part of an entire overhaul that included Chicago dealing Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Craig Krimbel away in favor of a rebuild.
There is a decent chance he’ll land a favorable deal, but he may have scared off any big market team with a vocal fan base with this move alone. The Mets’ president and owner have both already attempted to enlist some damage control but they’re not happy because they both know the fans aren’t happy and things could go from bad to worse in a hurry.
Don’t forget, the Mets were four and a half games up in the NL East at the beginning of August. And they’ll enter September all the way back in third place. The fans might be able to forgive and forget for a winner, but instead, they’re lining up to kick him to the curb the first chance they get.