Amid a wave of backlash and criticism, New York Mets stars Javier Baez and Francisco Lindor have apologized for making the thumbs-down gesture in response to fans booing the club for their ongoing struggles.
Baez told reporters on Tuesday that the gesture wasn't meant to offend anyone:
Lindor echoed Baez's sentiments when he met with the media.
Mets owner Steve Cohen responded on Twitter to the apologies by Baez and Lindor:
Baez, Lindor and Kevin Pillar were using the gesture during the Mets' weekend series against the Washington Nationals.
What initially seemed like a harmless rib between teammates took a turn after Sunday's 9-4 win over the Washington Nationals when Baez explained the meaning behind it.
“[It’s] to let [fans] know when we don’t have success we are going to get booed, so they are going to get booed when we have success,” Baez told reporters.
Mets president Sandy Alderson followed up by issuing a statement denouncing Baez's comments:
"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."
Baez, who was acquired by the Mets on July 30 in a trade with the Chicago Cubs, has struggled with his new team. The 28-year-old is hitting .210/.258/.452 with four homers and seven RBI in 17 games.
Lindor is also in the midst of a disappointing season. The four-time All-Star currently has a career-low .686 OPS in 93 games. He signed a 10-year, $341 million contract extension before the start of the 2021 campaign.
Expectations were understandably high for the Mets coming into this season, but injuries and poor performances have derailed those hopes.
Carlos Carrasco, who was acquired from Cleveland in the Lindor trade, has a 6.94 ERA in six starts since returning from a torn hamstring. Jacob deGrom was moved to the 60-day injured list last week, meaning the earliest he can return is Sept. 13.
Since getting to 10 games over .500 on June 16 (35-25), the Mets are just 28-42 in their past 70 games.
After leading the National League East by four games as recently as July 31, the Mets are currently 7.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the division race. They are 6.5 games back of the Cincinnati Reds for the second wild card spot.