Francisco Lindor Javier Baez
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

What the hell is going on at Citi Field?

Tab Bamford

After actually winning a game on Sunday, Mets’ start infielder Javier Báez sat down to speak with the media with his young son on his lap. His son had eye black on and a Mets jersey, just like his father. He was a fan at the game on Sunday.

The fans at Citi Field on Sunday saw Báez hit a home run, helping the Mets beat the Nationals 9-4.

After the game, Báez greeted Francisco Lindor. As you can see, both players shared a common hand gesture.

Javier Baez Francisco Lindor
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

During the game, Kevin Pillar also made the gesture. In fact, a few Mets players have done it recently. Enough so that a media member asked Báez what it was about.

That obviously wasn’t going to sit well with the fans. Apparently it didn’t go over well with El Mago’s new bosses, either.

Note: Pillar did tweet that those who were trashing Báez were taking things too seriously.

After the game, Mets manager Luis Rojas said Báez needed to get used to the booing if he was going to stick in New York.

“Javy being a new guy around here, getting to know our fanbase, some of the reaction that our fanbase has, you see it’s something he’s learning,” Rojas said. “Our fans are like that, our fans are very passionate. They’re going to demand the best out of everyone here”

“Especially Mets fans, New York fans, this market, this city knows baseball probably more than any other city,” Rojas continued. “They have the right to react however they want, and we got to understand where they’re coming from. Our job is to be ready every to give them the best baseball.”

Needing El Mago to get used to the fans is a tactful approach. Then Sandy Alderson chimed in on Sunday night.

Sandy getting salty

At almost 9 P.M. ET on Sunday night, the Mets tweeted the following statement from Alderson:

“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.”

Editors Note: We did not add the appropriate accent marks on Báez‘s last name in the statement because the Mets couldn’t be bothered to spell his name right.

Sincerely, what the hell is going on with the Mets right now?

Alderson and his hand-selected front office make the blockbuster deal to get Lindor before the season and then, despite the obvious needs of the team being on the mound, went out and rented Lindor’s best friend (Báez) for the final two months of the season to make their $341 million man happy (and buy him time to get healthy).

I’m sure Lindor is thrilled Alderson is calling players — by the way, including him — “unprofessional” for making the gesture. The front office taking the side of the fans over the players and this feels very… “get off my lawn even though I’m paying you tens of millions of dollars to be on my lawn.”

Was Báez wrong for what he said?

No. Not at all.

If the players have a hand gesture (which, by the way, every team does) and he felt like honestly answering the question about that it means, there’s nothing wrong with that. Báez always was that player in Chicago; nothing about Javier Báez has changed since he changed jerseys.

And, frankly, who cares? If the Mets giving each other a thumbs down after winning a game gives them something to rally around and maybe actually win enough games that fans cheer them more frequently, I think fans would be all for that.

But let’s dig into this for a moment.

Why is Báez the guy answering this question? 

Where is Pete Alonso? Or Pillar? Or, heaven forbid, the $341 million man himself? Why is the rental being thrown under the bus when he can move on and enjoy the rest of his career somewhere else after the Mets overpaid for him at the deadline?

Someone with deeper roots in the organization — on the player side — needed to own this. Not Javier Báez. But here we are, roasting the new guy.

Alderson’s shadow continues to be too big

Did we need Alderson to weigh in this heavily and/or this quickly?

Hell no.

But what now have clearly established is the Mets traded a future long-term answer in centerfield and the leadoff spot in the batting order for a guy the team president clearly hates — and isn’t hiding it.

Which, if Pete Crow-Armstrong ends up reaching anywhere close to his projected ceiling, makes the Báez trade one of the worst in recent Mets history.

You’re also now running the risk of creating a divide between the team president and the team’s most expensive player, Lindor, who is not only Báez’s best friend but — again — is also pictured making the hand gesture.

Y’all should have slept on the Báez comments, enjoyed a day off and come back on Tuesday hoping to make a few more thumbs down moments against the Marlins.

Instead, we’re talking about Alderson again.