The reaction was uniform when news broke that Major League Baseball had denied the New York Mets' request to wear hats honoring emergency services personnel to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks.
That reaction was anger.
Apparently, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig is also angry. Not for the same reasons as the rest of us, though. According to a report by the New York Post, Selig called the Mets in a huff on Sunday night because the story had become public.
Unfortunately for Selig, there is no sweeping this story under the rug like so many unwanted home run records. While the NFL garnered plenty of favorable reviews for the events it held to pay respect to those who lost their lives on 9/11, the lasting memory of MLB's handling of the occasion will be #wearthehats.
The hashtag #wearthehats began turning up on Twitter on Sunday as the Mets nationally-televised game against the Chicago Cubs got underway, and the controversy has made MLB a punching bag for the media throughout the week. Keith Olberman ripped Selig and the league on his television show on Monday and said "MLB officials have checked their souls at the front desk," adding that the league had exhibited "the kind of stupidity that would make a megalomaniac proud."
On Tuesday, Mike Greenberg railed against MLB's decision on ESPN's "Mike And Mike In The Morning" program. Appearing on air with Mike & Mike, ESPN baseball writer Jayson Stark revealed that MLB had previously denied a request by Washington Nationals to wear special caps to honor the deaths of Navy Seals in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan in August.
Catcher Josh Thole, the Mets' union representative, told the Daily News that MLB "contacted the club and said it's an absolute 'no chance' at all," as far as wearing the hats and indicated his understanding that the fines would have been severe.
When the Mets took the field for batting practice before their game, they were wearing hats for the NYPD, FDNY and other first responders. They also wore them during the emotional pregame ceremony. But they were wearing MLB-sanctioned caps when they took the field for the game itself. In response to fans on Twitter, many of whom were disappointed with the team for not standing up to MLB, knuckleballer R.A. Dickey revealed that the first responder hats were actually taken from the players.
For all those upset that we didn't wear the hats, I understand your anger. However, they physically took them from us after the ceremony.
The connection between the Mets and these caps goes back to the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 9/11 when it was the Mets who first brought sports back to New York City. Their game against the Atlanta Braves on Sept. 21 , 2001 at Shea Stadium -- a staging ground for relief efforts -- will always be remembered as one of the most emotional moments in the city's storied sporting history. After a tense ballgame, Mike Piazza delivered a cathartic game-winning home run that gave a sullen city a few moments to exhale and cheer. As a gesture of solidarity, the Mets players and coaches all donned caps bearing the initials or insignia of the various first responders during that game.
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