Báez, Lindor to Mets fans: 'We apologize'

August 31st, 2021

NEW YORK -- Two days after put the New York City market on edge for explaining that Mets players were using thumbs-down gestures on the basepaths to “boo” their own fans, both Báez and apologized.

“Thumbs down for me means adversity that we have gone through this whole time, the negative things, we overcome it,” Lindor said on Tuesday. “However, it was wrong, and I apologize to whoever I offended. It was not my intent to offend people. I can’t go against the fans.”

Added Báez: “I didn’t mean to offend anybody. And if I offended anybody, we apologize.”

Lindor and Báez were among a group of Mets who began using thumbs-down gestures earlier this month to celebrate big hits. Following Sunday’s 9-4 win over the Nationals, Báez answered a question about the gesture by explaining that it was a way for Mets players to “boo” back at fans, who had grown increasingly disillusioned with the Mets’ rapid slide down the NL East standings.

Two days later, Báez and Lindor corrected that the gesture was not in fact directed at fans, but at their own dugout as a way for players to rally past adversity.

“I might have said something wrong about, ‘I was booing the fans,’” Báez said. “I really meant, like, ‘Boo me now’ -- and not to the fans, to our dugout. I didn’t say the fans are bad. I love the fans. I just felt like we were alone.”

Boos at Citi Field became more prevalent throughout the first four weeks of August, which saw the Mets lose 12 1/2 games in the standings in 27 days. Fans directed jeers at nearly every prominent player on the roster, including Lindor, who has struggled during the first of his 11 guaranteed seasons with the Mets. Earlier this year, Lindor spoke out on multiple occasions against the negativity, saying he had never been booed during six seasons in Cleveland before coming to New York.

Yet Lindor seemed to suffer little harm in the court of public opinion until Sunday, when his animated thumbs-down gesture following a two-run double made him a focal point for criticism. Team president Sandy Alderson called Báez’s comments -- and, by extension, the gestures of Báez, Lindor, Kevin Pillar and any other Mets who flashed the thumbs-down sign -- “totally unacceptable.” Owner Steve Cohen told the New York Post that he planned to address the issue with Lindor and Báez at a charity function Monday night at his home.

The next morning, Mets players, coaches and staffers held a team meeting. Manager Luis Rojas would not divulge specifics of the meeting’s content or speakers, and public relations staffers cut off interviews with Lindor and Báez before those questions could be asked. Rojas did describe Lindor and Báez as “accountable” for their actions, adding that he is satisfied with the leadership of longer-tenured players, such as Jacob deGrom and Michael Conforto.

“We have leaders in there that have explained how the media, the fans, everything is here,” Rojas said. “I always have told the guys how accountable they’ve got to be. From Spring Training, I tell them we’ve got to be accountable. And we have guys who have experienced it.”

Shortly after apologizing, Lindor and Báez returned to the field to a mix of boos, cheers, thumbs-up and thumbs-down questions from a light crowd attending the resumption of a suspended game at Citi Field. By that point, the two had resigned themselves to defining crowd and media reaction as things beyond their control.

“It’s not like I’m sitting at my locker saying, ‘Ah, the media here sucks,’” Lindor said. “No, I’ve never said it. The media here is an honest one, and the fans here are honest. … Here, I have a lot of respect for people that are very honest, and they let you know right away. As soon as I come down, if I suck or make an error, they let me know. ‘You suck.’ What can I say? What, am I going to get into an argument? No, that’s not right. I respect people that are honest.”