Imagine if a single thumb, not even a real finger, could have as much of an effect on your future as it may for Javier Baez. The New York Mets infielder brought in this summer to help bolster the offense was caught up in the biggest controversy involving a metacarpal since Mr. Met flipped the bird.
Baez also happens to be a free agent this winter which means his future was already uncertain. Drawing the ire of fans, many who will be reluctant to even accept some sort of explanation of his words, could lead to a quick departure from Flushing.
It shouldn’t matter at all but it definitely will.
Fans can dictate what the Mets do this winter
Do the fans know best? Eh, sometimes they do. The product on the field is meant for them. Lose enough and the fans stop showing up. When the fans stop showing up, less money is made. Everyone loses.
In reality, we all can agree that the collective fanbase cannot possibly run the Mets as well as the people actually hired for the job. We may think of ourselves as capable but we can’t understand the pressures of the job without actually having them.
With Baez, the Mets were already probably unsure of what the future held for him. A hot two months with a possible postseason appearance would have made him a fan favorite and someone the front office would have stretched to re-sign.
Now, with a slow start and many rubbed the wrong way because of his involvement with jeering the fans, there will be fewer fans willing to accept his return.
Something I have come to realize about a majority of Mets fans is how much they care about the personality of players. They love their David Wrights and Jacob deGroms. Humble, somewhat quiet, and excellent ballplayers, this is the gold standard of what it means to suit up for the Mets.
Not everyone is built this way. Pete Alonso is trying to become it. Dominic Smith has said a lot of great things to show he has a lot of the right stuff in him. So far, from a guy like Baez who has barely been in New York, we’re seeing a different type of athlete.
Mets fans do like personality, but also like thick-skinned tough guys
Baez could have worked out so well in New York even if the team crashed and burned. There’s a special fire in him. We saw it just days before he was traded to the Mets when he showboated against the Cincinnati Reds. Personalities like these can be well-received in a place like the Big Apple.
What fans don’t seem to like is a contradiction. Baez comes across tough but can’t seem to take the heat of some boos? This is the perception many come away with. Even if he’s not the ringleader of the thumbs down to the fans and his explanation was poorly done, he was a participant and can’t take back his words.
But how much does a personality help a team win? This is what Mets fans want more than anything else. Forget a good guy with intensity on the field. Who cares if the team doesn’t have a leader if there’s a World Series at the end of the tunnel? If the Mets front office is serious about giving the fans what they really want, Baez’s thumb won’t matter at all in their decision.
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I was already someone who would prefer to wait and see on Baez rather than devote my thoughts one way or another. If things remain this ugly, it won’t be a decision for the front office to make. Baez will be looking for another place on his own.