Fighting is healthy in a relationship. I learned this from the 2007 rom-com License to Wed. You have to wade through negative feelings to get to the positive ones, and neglecting to do so only builds resentment. (This is what Robin Williams tried to teach Mandy Moore and John Krasinski in the movie.) (Robin Williams was their priest.) (They never fought, so he made them do stressful tasks together before they got married to make sure their bond was strong enough for marriage.) (One of the tasks was that they could no longer have premarital sex, and he bugged their house to make sure they weren’t having sex, and he listened to them.)
I bring up License to Wed because the Mets are not doing great. This is not unusual, but it’s notable because they were recently doing pretty good, and now they’re doing pretty bad. Because of this turn, there has been an increase in Mets fans booing the Mets during games. This is a healthy response. Mets fans love the Mets unconditionally — they are our little Met babies and we are their fan mamas — but communication is necessary in a relationship, and the only direct access Mets fans have to the Mets is via screaming at them drunkenly from the stands. The Mets are hurting their fans’ feelings by being terrible; they have the fans’ support, and they are taking it for granted. The fans would like them to play better. Therefore, the fans should boo.
But relationships are a two-way street. And the Mets are going to feel bad about being yelled at, even though they deserve it and are still making lots of money. A few Mets players, notably infielder Javier Baez, have decided to express their frustration at the booing by giving their fans a “thumbs-down” whenever they perform well, to express that they do not like feeling that their fans are fair-weather. After a game this weekend, Baez explained the “thumbs-down” to the press:
"We're not machines. We're going to struggle seven times out of 10. It just feels bad when I strike out and get booed. It doesn't really get to me but I want to let them know that when we're successful, we're going to do the same thing to let them know how it feels."
Of course, feeling like you’re only being supported by your partner during the good times is a fair frustration to have in a relationship. But fans are upset. How dare the Mets “boo” us, they’re saying. These guys make so much money, and they suck, and we’re the ones that have to get bullied about it by friends who like other teams, and now they’re booing us? Mets president Sandy Alderson also doesn’t like the thumbs-down, and responded to it in a Medium post on Sunday night, writing "these comments, and any gestures by him or other players with a similar intent, are totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated." He continued:
“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.”
Clearly, Sandy Alderson has never seen License to Wed. Without the thumbs-down, feelings will go uncommunicated. Resentment will build. The Mets likely want to play well for their fans, but if they’re harboring resentment for their fans? Then, they might self-sabotage just to see them suffer. It’s absolutely what I would do, if I were a Met. No one would notice because I would be expected to play terribly anyway, but I would know. And that would be enough.
Communication between the Mets fans and the Mets is key for future Mets success. And without the thumbs-down, this is the conversation:
Fans: YOU SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Mets: We are going to not acknowledge you and continue to suck, as if we do not care about your opinion. But inside we are upset with ourselves, and with you.
But with the thumbs-down, this is the conversation:
Fans: YOU SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Mets: It makes us feel bad that you’re pointing out that we’re playing poorly when we would also like to be playing better.
Fans: We understand, but at the end of the day we just need you to play better because we’re emotionally invested in your success even though it is completely out of our hands, plus you get paid a lot.
Mets: I know we get paid a lot, but it’s a really stressful job, and it’s made more stressful by your booing.
Fans: Our jobs are stressful too, but we don’t get paid a lot.
Mets: Okay good point. Again I want to stress that we are trying to play well, we’re just human so sometimes we’re going to fail.
Fans: Okay, but again I want to stress that if you could play better that would be better for all of us.
Mets: We understand. I wish you wouldn’t take that tone with us, though.
Fans: We’re sorry about the tone but you have to understand that you are in the position of power. We have no ability to change how you’re playing, even though we care very much about the outcome of your games. We feel helpless. And you make a lot of money.
Mets: We’re sorry, we understand. We love you.
Fans: We love you, too.
Fans: Oh wait, also can you do your eye black in the style of Mr. Met?
Fans: Thank you.
Mets: You’re welcome.
Also the thumbs-down is just very funny. If you want to root for some bloodless team of little personalityless robots, you can root for the Yankees.