The second half of MLB’s regular season kicked off on Friday. It didn’t go very well for the Mets or the Yankees but for different reasons.
The Bombers lost two of three in Colorado to the Rockies, dropping the rubber game by way of a walk-off home run. As for the Mets, they lost two of three to the Dodgers, scoring three runs all weekend. And they nearly got swept after coughing up a 1-0 lead in the eighth inning after a spectacular effort from Max Scherzer.
We entered this season with high hopes and expectations for both the Mets and Yankees. One team is in a better spot than the other, but neither is performing as expected. The Amazins are 43-50 and 8.5 games out of the final NL Wild Card spot. The Bombers are just two games out of the final AL postseason spot, but at 50-44, they’re also tied for last place in the AL East with the Boston Red Sox.
Fans are frustrated, and there have been boos coming from the stands at different points throughout the year. They’re especially evident at Citi Field. That’ll happen when you’re under .500 despite fielding a team with a payroll greater than $350 million.
New York fans are smart and passionate. They expect excellence from their teams. When that doesn’t happen, many people aren’t afraid to let everyone know how they feel about it. But is the environment getting toxic for the players? That’s what SNY’s Andy Martino said in response to someone on Twitter as the boo birds were out during the Mets’ 6-0 loss to Los Angeles:
Many, though certainly not all NY players feel it has become a pretty toxic place to be
— Andy Martino (@martinonyc) July 15, 2023
Now, if you’re thinking this kind of argument sounds familiar, it’s because it should. As the Yankees got swept out of the ALCS by the Astros last October, this “toxicity” was brought up by Martino.
My thoughts on this? Gimme a break. This kind of behavior from New York fans isn’t new. It’s a little different these days because the booing and criticism can also leak into a player’s mentions on various social media handles. But it’s not different. As our own James Kratch pointed out last fall, WFAN legend Mike Francesa had this to say about it:
They booed Joe DiMaggio. They booed Mickey Mantle. The Yankee fan wants to go to the World Series. He hasn’t been to the World Series in a long time. He pays a lot of money to go to these games. He makes a big effort to fight traffic and fight everything and expenses to go to the game. And he’s disappointed.
They have showered Judge with love forever. But when you don’t perform in the big spot in this town, you’re going to hear it. When they booed the (Derek) Jeter teams at one time, I remember Jeter saying, ‘We deserved it.’ That should be the answer. ‘We deserved it,’ not, ‘What are you doing booing us?’ You’ve got to be tougher than that.
Personally, I don’t boo players. It’s hard to play any sport, let alone play professionally at a high level. But then again, it’s not like I’ve been super happy watching the Mets perform the way they have since the middle of April.
If fans feel the need to boo to show how they feel about what’s happening on the field, then so be it. Ballplayers know that’s part of the territory, especially in New York. There’s literally no better place to play professional sports when you have success. Fans will constantly shower you with love if you win and perform well in big spots. But if you don’t, there’s a good chance you’re going to hear about it. Pro sports is a “what have you done for me lately” kind of business, and that’s especially the case in New York.
Playing in this market isn’t for everyone. That’s a tale as old as time. But don’t give me this bologna about New York just recently becoming a more toxic place to play. If the Mets and Yankees were performing like they were at this time last year, nobody would be saying a thing about this.
So, this is a similar situation to someone getting irked about a player bat flipping and celebrating a home run wildly. If you don’t like it, then don’t let them hit a home run. If you’re tired of hearing boos, give New York fans something to cheer about. They are desperately wanting to do that and don’t know what to do with their hands when it doesn’t happen.
But no, I don’t think New York has suddenly become a toxic place to play. It’s always been this way. Some players are able to handle it and some aren’t. That’s just the way life is.