When the New York Mets traded for Chicago Cubs infielder Javier Baez on July 30, the Mets held a 3.5 game lead in the National League East.

The Mets thought they were bringing in a quality bat to solidify the team’s playoff aspirations.

But then the floor fell out from under the Mets that culminated with Baez flashing a gesture at the fans that left them red with rage.

Since acquiring Baez, the Mets are 10-19, fell to 4 games under .500, and sunk to third place.

Baez has only hit .210 since coming over to the Mets and while it is certainly not Baez’s fault that the Mets season entered a tailspin, Baez’s undisciplined approach at the plate became a symbol in the eyes of fans for the team’s struggling offense.

When fans are unhappy, they boo. It’s a fact of sports that players have to deal with.

The Mets’ struggles and the fans’ unhappiness finally got to Baez who flashed a thumbs down gesture at the fans after recording a base hit in Sunday’s 9-4 win over the Washington Nationals.

After the game, Baez told reporters why he disrespected the fans with this gesture.

“In my case, they (the fans) gotta be better,” Baez stated. “It’s just how I feel. I love the fans I like playing for the fans, but we can’t have our fans against us.”

Baez made it clear that he intended to continue taunting the fans.

“It feels bad when I strike out and I 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 . . . They’re going to put more pressure on the team,” Baez added.

“To let them know that when we don’t get success, we’re going to get booed. So they’re going to get booed when we get success,” Baez concluded.

The New York Mets front office was not amused or in any way tolerant of Baez’s thumbs down gesture.

Team President Sandy Alderson released a statement blasting Baez for attacking the fans and defended the crowd’s right to boo the Mets when the team struggled.

Alderson’s statement read:

In a post-game press conference today, Javy Baez stated that his “thumbs down” gesture during the game was a message to fans who recently have booed him and other players for poor performance. These comments, and any gestures by him or other players with a similar intent, are totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

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.

Mets fans are loyal, passionate, knowledgeable and more than willing to express themselves. We love them for every one of these qualities.

With the Mets limping to the conclusion of a once promising season, the fans are only going to get angrier.

Baez flashing a thumb’s down gesture will only incite more booing and could force the Mets to let Baez walk when he enters free agency this winter.

Sports with Balls will keep you up-to-date on any new developments in this ongoing story.