Say goodnight to the bad guys. Well, New York Mets fans can only hope so.
When I think of the Mets, I don’t envision an Evil Empire. Their best teams have always been likable even if their off-field escapades weren’t always legal. The franchise has employed some classy human beings over the years. It continues to this day with plenty of upstanding citizens on the current roster.
But in the sports world, even if you are a good person, you can still become a villain. Plenty of sports bad guys kiss puppies and help old ladies cross streets. In baseball, you can become the bad guy by winning and being a little arrogant about it in the process.
The Mets have the first ingredients needed for an Evil Empire recipe
The Mets have the richest owner in baseball. They have the big market of New York City. All they need are the players and a winning record.
Sprinkle in some bat flips, some relief pitchers talking trash, and a brawl here and there—we have ourselves a gang of outlaws in the Big Apple.
There are some obvious candidates to lead the newly branded heel Mets on the field. Javier Baez has already fought the fans but he also doesn’t have too many fans in other cities. During his years with the Chicago Cubs, Baez became a National League Central villain. Mets fans got to see and hear it up close in the late-September road trip to play the Milwaukee Brewers. Although Baez was no longer on a rival club, Brewers fans didn’t forget about him.
The Cincinnati Reds have had their run-ins with Baez as well. I’m sure there are moments when Pittsburgh Pirates or St. Louis Cardinals players or fans also wanted to see him knocked in the dirt.
Baez could always leave the Mets this winter yet that’s not the end of a possible rise to the dark side for the Metropolitans. His good friend Francisco Lindor has the makings of annoying plenty of opposing fan bases. Just look at that smile. Imagine having to see that every time the Mets beat you down.
Being a bad guy in baseball isn’t all flexing or being purposefully antagonistic. Something as simple as Brandon Nimmo’s choice to run down to first base after every walk can grind on opposing fan bases. It’s very “Pete Rose” of him. Rose, as I’m sure you may recall, is an all-time great baseball villain even outside of his gambling ban.
Let’s also not forget about Pete Alonso. Boisterous and loud, all malefactor factions in the game of baseball need a slugger who talks as big as he hits bombs.
There is a thin line the Mets could walk in this unintended process. These qualities mean nothing if the team isn’t winning. What good is it to have a player in a Twitter feud if his team can’t win often? Quickly, you find yourself being the bad guys to your own fans. You resemble the early 1990s and early 2000s squads much more than the organization others are jealous of.
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Nothing is worse than being a bad guy in sports and have a losing record. On the contrary, nothing is better than being the envy of the rest of the league.