Francisco Lindor #12 of the Mets prepares to bat during...

Francisco Lindor #12 of the Mets prepares to bat during the first inning against the Kansas City Royals at Citi Field on Friday, April 12, 2024. Credit: Jim McIsaac

We know the dark side of fandom.

We know about the vitriolic messages players get, the taunts that go a little (or a lot) too far. Thanks to social media, we’re privy to what people say when they think they can hide behind anonymous avatars, or photos of their dogs.

These days, Francisco Lindor knows that more than most.

He was hitting .098 entering Friday night’s game against the Royals, and thanks to the Mets’ slow start — one that finally stabilized on this last road trip — he’s borne the slings and arrows of a disgruntled fan base. He’s been called overrated and overpaid, and though those aren’t particularly nice things to say about someone, fans have every right to say them. They have the right to boo, if they so choose. If they want to burn a Lindor shirsey in the privacy of their own homes, they can do that, too (not that anyone should — that’s unhinged behavior).

But there’s a line, and it’s been crossed. And now it’s up to this fan base to continue to uncross it.

For what it’s worth, they did manage it Friday, giving Lindor a standing ovation and cheering him every time he walked to the plate. He was 1-for-3 with a walk and a run in the Mets’ 6-1 win over the Royals, and after the game, he was aglow with emotion.

“Thank you for the love,” he said. “It doesn’t go unnoticed . . . I’m a better player when my heart is at a happy place, and shortstop at Citi Field is my happy place.”


For the uninitiated — or blessedly unaware — Lindor’s wife, Katia Reguero Lindor, took to X last week to expose the disgusting comments fans have sent her on Instagram. The messages were threatening toward the Lindors and their young daughters, rife with misogyny, and spurred merely by the fact that the superstar shortstop has failed to adequately hit a leather sphere with a large stick of wood.

“I’m usually all for triggering male fragile egos and find it borderline comical when I get cowardly social media hate, but when lowlifes like this bring my husband and kids to the conversation, whew, that really crosses a boundary & it saddens me to know how vile some people are,” Reguero Lindor tweeted, attaching screenshots of the messages. “How unhappy must you be with your own life? Go take out your anger elsewhere, please.”

Afterward, a Mets fan X account suggested that those in attendance Friday give Lindor a standing ovation when he went to the plate, a notion owner Steve Cohen co-signed.

“Love that idea,” Cohen tweeted. “It worked in Philly with [Trea] Turner. Positivity goes a long way.”

In the hours leading up to the game, though, the debate was raging online. There still was a groundswell of fans who wanted to give Lindor an ovation — something Phillies fans did for Turner last year when he was mired in a horrific slump. But there also were those who insisted Lindor get peppered with boos.

Lindor, who saw the online campaign, didn’t know what he’d get.

“I wasn’t expecting it,” he said. “At the end of the day, they’re going to do what they want to do . . . It felt really good. This is home.”

Look, everyone knows this is New York. It isn’t easy to play here, and more than one superstar has been chewed up and spit out by the unrelenting attention. If you choose to come here, there’s a good chance that, at some point, you’re going to get booed. If you choose to come here for $341 million, it becomes a very good chance.

Although all of that is part of the deal, we probably should go ahead and do away with the idea that you can boo someone into performing better. No one wants Lindor to succeed as much as Lindor wants himself to succeed. And an occasional glimmer of positivity isn’t going to somehow fool him into thinking that hitting .111 right now is good.

It did end up propelling Lindor, even if the results were modest. The cheers started when he was announced with the starting lineup. His first at- bat triggered a loud, lengthy ovation. He took a moment before stepping up to the plate — settling himself as the crowd showed no sign of stopping.

In a movie, he would have responded by hitting the ball 400 feet. And he actually did, but it went foul, and he ended up flying out to left.

“I wasn’t going to swing at the first pitch, and I swung at it,” he said, chuckling. “I’m trying to bring the energy day in and day out and lead the team and be part of this special thing that’s happening right now. It definitely fills my heart, for sure.”

Probability says the hits will come. A career .272 batter isn’t going to simply forget how to perform. Eventually he’ll return to some semblance of the player we saw last year.

And until he does, fans can cheer. Or they can boo. But they can keep the threats to themselves. They can keep players’ families out of it.

And they can remember that failing at baseball isn’t nearly as bad as failing at being a good person.


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