Javier Báez says Mets will no longer use thumbs down gesture: ‘If I offended anybody, we apologize’

Tuesday afternoon at Citi Field, the New York Mets will take the field for the first time since Javier Báez admitted the club used a “thumbs down” gesture to respond to fans who boo the team. “It feels bad when I strike out and I get booed … I want to let them know that when we have success, we’re going to do the same thing, to let [fans] know how it feels,” he said Sunday.

The Mets have been in damage control mode since Báez’s comments — “[The gestures] are totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” team president Sandy Alderson said later Sunday — and prior to Tuesday’s game, manager Luis Rojas told reporters the club had a team meeting to discuss the situation. 

“Guys were accountable today,” Rojas told reporters, including Deesha Thosar of the New York Daily News, referring to Báez and Francisco Lindor. Those two players said the Mets will no longer make the thumbs down gesture prior to Tuesday’s game.

“I didn’t mean to offend anybody,” Báez said (video). “This is something that I’ve done in the past against the other team. I did it [during the Dodgers series in L.A. last week] to the dugout. It’s not — I might have said something wrong about booing fans. I 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. …I didn’t mean to offend anybody. If I offended anybody, we apologize.”

Lindor added (video): “It was to the dugout. The thumbs down to me means the adversity we have gone through this whole time, the negative things, we overcome it. It’s ‘we did it, we went over it.’ However, it was wrong. I apologize to whoever I offended. It was not my intent to offend people. I can’t go against the fans. I’ve never done it my career. We play for the fans like Javy said. He’s 100 percent right.”

Mets fans planning to voice their displeasure with (or approval of) Báez will have to wait. Tuesday afternoon’s game is the completion of a game that was suspended due to rain on April 11, when Báez was still with the Cubs. He is eligible to play in the game, though the Mets opted to replace the injured Luis Guillorme in the starting lineup with Jonathan Villar.

Every team in baseball has some sort of gesture for when something good happens, and it’s not often that we get an explanation. Oftentimes the gesture is left to an inside joke, and the Mets could have (should have) played the inside joke card when asked about the thumbs down. This is the sort of silly controversy that could only happen to the Mets.  

The Mets are 8-19 in August and have gone from four games up in the NL East to 7 1/2 games out. Báez is hitting .210/.258/.452 since the trade and has been among the least impactful trade deadline additions.

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