New York Mets owner Steve Cohen said Monday that his protesting players who gave the crowd thumbs down over the weekend “hit the third rail by messing with fans.”
Cohen made the comments in an interview with the New York Post. They come a day after Javier Baez was the ringleader of a trio of players who pushed back at booing Mets fans with thumbs-down gestures during Sunday’s game against the Washington Nationals.
“These are young guys and sometimes we forget they are on a public stage and can make mistakes,” Cohen told the 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’s comments dug deeper than his tweet late Sunday night.
“I miss the days when the biggest controversy was the black jerseys.”
Baez first gave the thumbs down after hitting a home run in the win over the Nationals. Francisco Lindor and Kevin Pillar also mimicked the gesture during and after the game.
“We’re not machines. We’re going to struggle seven times out of 10,” Baez said after the game. “It just 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 them know how it feels.”
Mets president Sandy Alderson rebuked Baez and the players later Sunday.
“These comments, and any gestures by him or other players with a similar intent, are totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” Alderson said in a statement. “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, acquired by the Mets at the trade deadline, is an impending free agent and will likely not be in a New York uniform next season.
Lindor, however, signed a 10-year, $341 million deal before the season. In his first campaign in New York, he is hitting .224.
The Mets enter Monday’s action seven games behind the second National League wild-card spot and 7 1/2 games behind the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves. On Aug. 1, they held a 3 1/2-game lead in the division.
–Field Level Media