Javier Baez is finding life outside the Friendly Confines significantly more hostile these days.
Since the Chicago Cubs traded him to the New York Mets at the July 30 deadline, the infielder is slashing .207/.258/.414 with three home runs and five RBI in 16 games. Mets fans have certainly noticed and responded in kind, booing the struggling veteran amid his August slump.
During New York's 9-4 victory over the Washington Nationals, Baez debuted his clap back at Mets faithful, giving a "thumbs-down" sign to the crowd at Citi Field after hitting a home run.
Baez explained he wants fans to know if they boo him when he struggles, he'll boo them right back when he succeeds.
Mets president Sandy Alderson condemned Baez's comments in a statement Sunday night:
"In a post-game press conference today, Javy Baez stated that his 'thumbs-down' gesture during the game was a message to fans who recently have booed him and other players for poor performance. These comments, and any gestures by him or other players with a similar intent, are totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
"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.
"Mets fans are loyal, passionate, knowledgeable and more than willing to express themselves. We love them for every one of these qualities."
Outfielder Kevin Pillar took to Twitter to speak on the matter, noting he wasn't "booing" the fans and that the players were "having fun":
Pitcher Marcus Stroman also addressed the situation (warning: tweet contains profanity):
Marcus Stroman @STR0
FACTS! Media always searching for anything to cause controversy. Stop playing into these narratives. It’s all fake bullshit. We won today. That’s all that matters. On to the next not dwelling in the past…same mindset we’ve had all year! Thankful for this squad! <a href="https://twitter.com/Mets?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@mets</a>
Mets owner Steven Cohen also took to social media Sunday night:
Baez's comments were certainly an interesting approach given how the Mets have played recently.
Since the trade deadline, New York has gone 9-20 and dropped from first place in the National League East to third—well out of the playoff picture.
With a month left in the season, things could still turn around at Citi Field, but it seems like the Mets will be trying to do so in spite of a subsection of the fanbase, not for them.