Francisco Lindor was “Mr. Smile” as a member of the Cleveland Indians.
Now he is openly giving New York Mets fans a thumbs down every single time he does something good on the field.
Lindor was the homegrown kid in Cleveland who dazzled fans and nearly helped lead the team to a championship in 2016.
But his looming departure hung over the team for years and that started to damage his reputation a bit in Cleveland.
Then came the trade to the Mets, followed by a 10-year, $341 million extension.
The thing he failed to realize is he has still not proven anything to Mets fans.
All his past success was in Cleveland.
Thus came the boos due to his awful year and now the controversy of his new celebration.
Javy Baez on the thumbs down sign Mets players have been flashing to the crowd after their hits:
"When we don't get success, we're going to get booed. So they [the fans] are going to get booed when we get success." pic.twitter.com/n2jjMCIXIU
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 29, 2021
Lindor no longer looks like Mr. Smile.
A Different World
The worst season of Lindor’s career came in 2020 with the Indians.
He posted a 1.2 WAR in the shortened season and did not look like his usual self.
That was true for plenty of players in the odd year, so a pass was given.
But things have not gotten much better in New York.
His WAR is only at 2.1 and he still only has 11 home runs on the season.
If such a down year happened in Cleveland, fans would be disappointed but still cheering him on.
In New York?
No one has any sympathy for someone set to earn such a large fortune without doing well at their job.
This is just the nature of playing in a city like New York.
Fighting back with the fans will only make the boos louder and turn this from a fun back-and-forth into a serious problem.
What He Must Do
Lindor should just offer up a quick apology, explain his frustration, and move on.
He does not need to double down with his downward thumb.
The only way this situation would become fun would be if the Mets somehow reached the playoffs and Lindor went on an absolute tear to get them there.
Then everyone, including Lindor, could give a big thumbs down to fire up the crowd.
That is, unfortunately, just not likely given all the injuries and issues the team has faced this season.
So just dropping this is best for everyone and helps reduce animosity between the fans and the team’s supposed cornerstone.
He will just have to accept the boos until he turns his play around.
If he can’t, well, then the Mets are stuck with a problem over the next decade.