I think players should be allowed to heckle fans if those fans are heckling them. If the fans are booing, players should boo back. Or express their displeasure in the media / on social media without being pilloried for it. Or give ‘em a double-barrel thumbs down standing on second base. Because for one, it’s entertaining and funny. And isn’t that what sports is — entertainment?
Javier Baez on the thumbs down sign Mets players have been flashing to the crowd after big hits: "To let [the fans] know when we don't get success we're going to get booed, so they are going to get booed when we have success."— Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) August 29, 2021
Sidenote: of course it’s the Mets. Why would it be any team other than them?
If I’m remembering correctly, booing and abuse was A Thing at Citi Field earlier this season, and the players made it pretty clear that they didn’t appreciate being booed AND that it sometimes made them play worse because it messed with their heads.
The Mets organization, however, doesn’t see it the same way. They issued a statement condeming the players’ actions.
Mets fans are understandably frustrated over the team’s recent performance. The players and the organization are equally frustrated, but fans at Citi Field have every right to express their own disappointment. Booing is every fan’s right.
The Mets will not tolerate any player gesture that is unprofessional in its meaning or is directed in a negative way toward our fans. I will be meeting with our players and staff to convey this message directly.
I’m not going to unpack that statement too much, but let’s just say that for me it goes way too far. “Don’t ever be negative” towards the fans ain’t it. These guys signed up to hit and throw baseballs, not be harassed and heckled. Yes, that’s part of sports, being a professional, and the player-fan relationship to an extent. But there has got to be a line somewhere.
There is something to be said for a sliding scale of proportional response. If you get booed once, maybe just don’t react and take it on the chin. If it is a constant thing, yeah go ahead and respond at some point, especially if you’ve said “hey, could you cut back / not do it.” And if it goes beyond booing into verbal threats / other nastiness, respond away.
And for what it’s worth, it’s pretty cowardly and hypocritical for fans to heckle players expecting them to take it and then get bent out of shape when they give a little back. For me, turnabout is fair play. If you can’t take it, don’t dish it out.
Oh and Granit Xhaka says hello. Well actually he says, “eff off” but you catch my drift.