NYT > Sports
To bridge a growing gap between Mets players and the team’s fans, infielder Javier Baez and Francisco Lindor apologized Tuesday for their recent thumb-down gestures that sparked outrage among fans and within the organization.
The gesture, Baez admitted on Sunday, was aimed at fans in retaliation for booing the team over the past few weeks.
After Baez revealed the intrinsic nature of the signal that usually came on the basic routes to the team’s shelter after the player took a major hit, Sandy Alderson, the team president, issued a statement condemning the players, calling it “totally unacceptable”.
The Mets had Monday off, but on Tuesday, Lindor, who signed a pre-season 10-year extension of $ 341 million, and Baez spoke to reporters on the field ahead of a one-two at the Miami Marlins, offering their apologies and explanations away.
“Thumbs down to me means the adversity we’ve been through, the negative things we’ve overcome,” said Lindor. “We did it, we pulled it off. However, it was wrong and I apologize to the one I insulted. It wasn’t my intention to offend people. You can’t compete against the fans. “
Lindor added, “It doesn’t look good on our part.”
Lindor came to strike in the first inning of the provisional double header on Tuesday to a mixture of boos and cheers from some fans – the first game was the resumption of a game against the Marlins, the 11th game against Miami. He went 0 for 3 with a walk.
However, Baez became the story of the day. He stepped in as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning, to a chorus of boos, but in the ninth he was the focus of a shocking four-run comeback, running an infield single in one run, and spinning from the first to the home race to win the game in an unlikely 6-5 win.
Before the game, Steven Cohen, the owner of the Mets, applauded Lindor and Baez for the apology and asked fans to stand behind them for Tuesday’s games.
“I’m glad to hear our players apologize to the fans,” he wrote.
Coach Luis Rojas said the team held a pre-game meeting to discuss the matter.
A close friend of Lindor’s Baez was taken on for an outfielder, Pete Crow-Armstrong, on July 30, and the team lost 11 of their next 15 games. After the season he becomes a free agent. As the defeats continued for the past few weeks, fans booed louder and, according to Baez, some players developed the thumbs-down gesture to say that the players can boo the players if they can boo the players when they go bad fans play when the team is successful.
“I didn’t mean to offend anyone,” said Baez. “I’ve done that to the other team in the past.”
Baez said that he may have said something wrong about booing fans and that he really meant it to his teammates.
“I didn’t say the fans were bad,” he said. “I love the fans. I just felt like we were alone. Of course the fans want to win and pay our salaries, as everyone says. But we want to win and the frustration has reached us. I didn’t mean to offend anyone. We apologize.”
In the first game, there were only 8,199 fans at Citi Field, and Baez was not in the starting XI. When he came to the punch as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning, the crowd whistled him loudly. In the end, he was hit with a 94 mph fastball but stayed in play for the ninth inning at second base.
Then he got the chance to flip the script with Mets fans and hit the record with two up and two on the bottom of the ninth, and the Mets were two runs behind. Parts of the crowd started chanting his name, and he drove a run in by hitting an infield single. When Michael Conforto’s infield single accidentally landed in the outfield, Baez sped home from first and slipped past catcher Alex Jackson to win the game.
The tiny crowd managed to sound loud as the players celebrated on the field.
“In short, winning heals everything,” said Conforto after the game.