The rumblings began in the seventh inning of Wednesday’s game against the Giants, when Francisco Lindor struck out as a pinch hitter to lead off the inning with the Mets trailing 3-2.
But that was just the beginning.
After remaining in the game, Lindor came to the plate in the ninth inning with runners on first and second and one out, still trailing 3-2. One foul pop-up and one fly ball to left-center had been dropped by the Giants, putting the tying and winning runs on base.
Lindor had everything he needed. It was all there for the Mets, who were in desperate need of help. On Jake McGee’s first pitch, Lindor hit a soft pop-up to first base. There was more to the low rumble than that. The thunderous rumble was followed by boos that swept Citi Field. The same kind of boos Lindor had heard earlier in his first season in Queens, which had been a disaster.
The Mets had lost their tenth game in a row, this time to the Giants and Dodgers, in what had turned into a two-week sightseeing tour of a tiny gated community to which they did not have the code.
Lindor had received a standing ovation in his first at-bat after being activated from a five-week, 36-game stint on the disabled list due to a strained oblique. The crowd erupted in applause when he hit a long home run before finishing the night 0-for-4.
“They gave me a little boost. I loved it,” Lindor said that night of the fan reaction. “Coming back home and feeling the fans, they gave me that extra boost I needed.
“I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous, a little anxious, but the fans made it a little better for me tonight. I thank them for cheering me on.”
There were thanks for nothing and boos for free the next night.
Lindor, who was acquired from Cleveland in the spring and signed a 10-year, $341 million contract extension, is having the worst season of his career after having the worst season of his career last year. He is slashing.224/.321/.369 with a wRC+ rating of 94 after slashing.258/.335/.415 with a 102 wRC+ in 2020.
He’s under contract until 2031.
He is, therefore, booed.
The problem is that when fans boo Lindor, they’re also booing the memory of Carlos Baerga, another Cleveland middle infielder who flopped. They’re also booing the memory of Robbie Alomar, another Cleveland (and Toronto and Baltimore) middle infielder who flopped. Jason Bay and Vince Coleman, both free-agent flops, are being booed.
All of it is being booed. They’re booing franchise history as much as they’re booing this particular team, which has struggled against the league’s elite and has slipped to a season-low four games under.500 at 61-65, trailing the first-place Braves by seven games heading into Thursday’s series finale against San Francisco.
As recently as June 16, the Mets were 35-25, with a five-game division lead. Everyone was pumped up. The city was enthralled. They led by four games as late as July 31 and remained in the lead until August 5.