Seemingly in a matter of hours, Mets infielder Javier Báez went from heel to hero.
Báez, who came to New York by way of Chicago at the trade deadline, drew the ire of Mets fans this week when it came to light that several Mets players — himself included — gave thumbs down gestures for several weeks to celebrate big hits or impressive performances.
As a result, Báez was booed entering Tuesday afternoon’s game even after he and teammate Francisco Lindor apologized Tuesday morning.
But by the end of the first game on Tuesday, Mets fans received Báez very differently; his first at-bat in the bottom of the eighth resulted in him reaching first via a hit-by-pitch. That was accompanied with (seemingly) good-natured cheering. When he took to the plate for the second time in the ninth, fans chanted his name and cheered when he hit a single to drive in a score to make it 6-4. Here’s how fans reacted when he scored the winning run to help the Mets down the Marlins 6-5:
It might seem counterproductive using a negative gesture after a positive outcome, but Báez’s and the rest of the team’s rationale made sense. As he and other teammates explained, it was the fans getting a taste of their own proverbial medicine for booing several players on the Mets during slumps or poor outings.
In response, whenever the Mets did something well, they’d give a thumbs down to the fans. The explanation caused quite a stir and wasn’t taken well by Mets fans.
Báez scoring the winning run gave the Mets their second win in a row and upped their record to 64-67, up to third place in the NL East, 6 1/2 games back of the second place Phillies. This comes after the Mets led the NL East for much of the first half of the season and have been on a fairly sizable collapse in the months since.
All indications seem to be that the days of boos and thumbs down are behind both the Mets and their fans — but perhaps only more good performances will tell us for sure whether it’s out of everyone’s system.
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