Javier Baez is not fit to wear a New York Mets uniform. Put it this way, he’s not a good fit for New York. If the late George Steinbrenner had this underachieving ballplayer under contract with the Yankees, it would take more than an apology to a loyal fan base.
In another era, 24 hours later, Steinbrenner would have told Javier Baez to pack his bags after his thumbs down gesture. Mets fans, they are worth more than a thumbs down and if you can’t take the heat then seal your lips and live up to your expectations.
Mantle, Maris, Berra, Jeter, they got booed. Mike Piazza, perhaps one of the greatest to put on a Mets uniform, was booed. Joe Namath, Phil Simms, Willis Reed, Mark Messier, and more in that conclave of those who put on a New York uniform or jersey and have been booed.
But they never gave the thumbs down and that is the message that Javier Baez fails to understand.
I was a fan and booed my New York sports heroes when they underachieved. I booed the teams when they left the field and hoped for a better day. I booed at Yankee Stadium, Shea Stadium, Madison Square Garden, Nassau Coliseum, all prior to a career in sports media.
Once you pay the price for admission, if done without foul language or threats, there is nothing wrong with giving a Bronx cheer or a loud boo of displeasure. In another era, on the back of your ticket stub, terms and conditions were clearly outlined.
So you have the right to boo. Javier Baez in New York, perhaps not in Chicago, fails to get the message. You have the right to call out Javier Baez, barely batting .200 since his acquisition from the Chicago Cubs for a top Mets prospect. You have a right to boo any of the other underachieving Mets.
You have a right to boo Francisco Lindor, who received a $340 million, 10-year contract and has underachieved. I would have preferred the new owner to put the contract on the table and allow the Lindor negotiations to proceed after the season. However, Lindor and his contract became a distraction. The deal was done and one can only hope that Mets fans get to eventually see Francisco Lindor, the all-around ballplayer and see this as one of those off years.
Lindor and Baez, childhood friends and World Baseball Classic teammates, are expected to be booed. It’s part of the good and bad of putting on that uniform in New York.
But this is more about Baez and not acclimating to a loyal and championship deprived New York Mets fan base. He is the culprit and not an entire Mets team that gives a thumbs up to their fan base. Baez has failed to understand what it takes to wear a New York uniform in his brief tenure here.
It is being said, the Mets fan base is now the public enemy of Javier Baez, an All-Star who hasn’t had enough time in New York to understand what it takes to be a winner here.
Because New York fans are so much different than any other sports city, and Baez does not understand, I would not doubt that Lindor, a childhood friend of Baez, is also a part of this.
And I would hope to expect Lindor and Baez to offer a public apology prior to the Mets day-night double header Tuesday at Citi Field. This is the media capital. The fans here have compassion for their teams and who wears the uniform.
Regardless, an apology to a loyal Mets fan base won’t repair the damage and don’t expect Lindor to lead the damage control, though, he has to deal with this having been locked in for 10 more years. His bat can do the talking, if and when. And then, perhaps the boos become cheers.
But Javier Baez, with his thumbs down Sunday, ran himself out of town. Mets fans won’t let this pass, and with their expectations of a postseason that quickly went in another direction, this is another distraction and black eye for the franchise.
Then again, is this not a part of the Mets long and storied history? The Wilpon ownership regime was a recurring theme of controversy. Most recently the mega contract of Yoenis Cespedes was more bad than good.
So this is in the hands of owner Steve Cohen. Their number one fan respects his fan base. Cohen eventually expects to receive results with his billionaire investment, but left the damage control in the hands of Mets president Sandy Alderson.
His statement of no tolerance and disrespect to a loyal fan base that is starving for a long and overdue championship was clear.
Now, though, the story of a Mets season that went the wrong way is about a “thumbs down” and comments from Javier Baez all directed to a loyal fan base.
Sunday afternoon, during the Zoom postgame meeting with the media, Baez had his young son on his lap. Instead of talking about a series win over the Nationals and bragging about his home run, Baez insulted every Mets fan.
He insulted every New York sports fan that roots for the Yankees, Knicks, Nets, Jets, Giants, Rangers, and Islanders. Baez, unexpectedly said, ”When we don’t get success, we’re going to get booed. So they’re [fans] going to get booed when we get success.”
And that my friends will be a comment that will live forever in the annals of New York sports. It will live forever in the annals of Mets history, and I can’t wait to hear the reaction of a Mets fan base at Citi Field Tuesday when the name Javier Baez is announced.
I can’t wait for Mets fans to give Baez the thumbs down. I look forward to hearing boos that will surpass the many Baez has become accustomed to hearing because of his not playing with expectations in the biggest sports market known as New York City.
Then again, who cares about Javier Baez with his comments and his thumbs down to New York Mets fans. He will be packing his bags soon, depart New York, and hear boos from another fan base.
Rich Mancuso: [email protected] Facebook.com/ Rich Mancuso