New York Mets owner Steve Cohen weighed in on the controversy surrounding his third-place team in the National League East.
"These are young guys, and sometimes we forget they are on a public stage and can make mistakes," Cohen said when discussing the idea that Javier Baez and others are criticizing the fans when they make thumbs-down gestures, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post. "They hit the third rail, though, by messing with fans. And it is unacceptable. Hopefully, this is a teaching moment, and they will learn from this."
Cohen previously hinted at the situation on Twitter when he was nostalgic for previous controversies:
Baez turned heads when he gave the thumbs-down signal toward the crowd after he hit a home run during Sunday's 9-4 win over the Washington Nationals.
He explained he loves the fans but was responding to their boos and how they are "putting more pressure on the team."
Mets president Sandy Alderson released a statement that took the side of the fans and condemned Baez's comments and gestures:
"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."
Frustration is certainly high in New York, as the team is just 8-19 in August and now sits 7.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves and three games behind the Philadelphia Phillies in the NL East.
While Baez was a World Series champion, two-time All-Star, Gold Glove winner and Silver Slugger during his time with the Chicago Cubs, he has struggled since being traded to the Mets and is slashing .210/.258/.452 with four home runs and seven RBI with his new team.