Bronx, NY: Any fan who has been listening to some of the New York sports programs or read the daily’s must have thought that NY Mets infielder, Javy Báez must have committed a mortal unpardonable act so bad that some were calling for the Mets to run him out of town. Really?
What was this all about, I had to investigate this a bit deeper than what I was hearing and reading? Báez, Lindor and Pillar had a new form of expressing themselves when they got a hit. After giving the Mets the lead for good with a two-run homer in the fourth inning of Sunday’s game Báez flashed a thumbs-down sign as he crossed home plate. Francisco Lindor did the same after driving home a pair with an eighth-inning double, as did Kevin Pillar when he followed with his sixth-inning single.
We all know and have seen many players express some form of feeling when their adrenalin is up in the clouds after scoring a run or getting a key base hit. Javy explained that this was his response to the fans who have been quite vocal booing him and the team.
“We’re not machines,” Báez said. “We’re going to struggle. We’re going to struggle seven times out of 10. And, you know, it just feels bad. When I strike out and I get booed, it doesn’t really get to me. But 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. If we win together, then we’ve got to lose together, and the fans are a big part of it. They’ve got to be better. I play for the fans. And I love the fans. If they’re going to do that, they’re just putting more pressure on the team, and that’s not what we want.”
Now let’s be clear. The fans have every right to express themselves and that is not the issue. Though I must admit that I and many of my friends that I called prior to writing this piece told me the same, none of us ever booed our team players. As a long time, Yankees & Mets fan (I know many won’t understand this, but these are my two NY teams) there have been many situations that I was really upset at a player for striking out, committing an error or giving up a hit that lost us the game. However, I never booed our players. Perhaps it’s a cultural thing, respect for the players no matter what, but I and many of those that I called told me the same, we don’t boo our players, even though we are angry, pissed, or whatever, we just don’t boo. Now, I have booed opposing players many times.
But this is not the issue. It’s not about the fans booing, and Báez, Lindor and Pillar expressing their emotion. My issue is with the sensational sports press that perhaps not having major items to write about the Mets lately since they have dropped 19 of their first 25 games in August seem to have found a juicier issue and Báez is the target. They have locked on this newest Mets like a pit bull to a leg of lamb.
Here is what concerns me, I would like to know how in the world could any sports commentator, or writer conclude what I heard some say. I heard NY Yankee sportscaster; Michael Kay say that what Báez did with the two thumbs down is equivalent as “sticking your middle finger” up to the fans. He went further and stated it was like “spitting at the fans.” I don’t know what world Mr. Kay lives, but here in the South Bronx, three blocks from the stadium where he earns his living, I could guarantee him that absolutely no one would agree with him. When we want to disrespect someone who we feel has disrespected us, we let them know it very clearly and we don’t do it by putting two thumbs down. Two thumbs down by Báez and the Mets players should be interpreted exactly for what Báez admitted, it was his way of Booing them back. What’s the problem with that? The sensitive Anglo sports press might not understand that, but I can say this from experience we Puerto Ricans don’t have a problem expressing our true feelings. Unfortunately, the Anglo press has never understood how to translate our sentiments correctly.
The most glaring example was Roberto Clemente who was constantly criticized by the press for his honesty in answering reporters’ questions. He did not hold back from expressing himself no matter what the question and that cost him with the Anglo sports press in Pittsburgh. Another Puerto Rican who had no problems expressing his true feelings, was Victor Pellot AKA, Vic Power. The press and the Yankees could not understand his straight no holds bar responses to reporters’ questions. Victor like Clemente where labeled, “arrogant” for speaking their true feelings. Victor so much so that the Yankees never brought him up from the minors where he would have been the first black player, instead they traded him to the Philadelphia Athletics becoming the first Puerto Rican to play for the team.
My advice to the NY sports press, chill on Báez. Just as NY fans will forget this whole thing if the team and the players start hitting and winning. Stop trying to light a fire where there is no real wood to burn.
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