Tigers closer Joe Nathan came into last night’s game in the ninth inning with a four-run lead and walked the first two batters he faced, at which point many of the fans in Detroit began booing him.
Nathan, who has six blown saves and a 5.11 ERA in his first season with the Tigers, responded by making a chin-flick gesture that, loosely translated, means something similar to the middle finger.
This afternoon Nathan apologized for his actions, telling Jason Beck of MLB.com:
I think both sides were frustrated. I was frustrated. Fans obviously were frustrated. I think for myself, I apologize for that. I have two kids and I need to be a better example for them thinking how they’re still young enough that they won’t know about this. I do know, and I do need to be better for that. I know both sides are frustrated, but the thing is, we’re on the same page. The fans want to win, want us to win. We obviously want to win.
He went on to say a lot of other stuff along those same lines, making it clear that he has “no hard feelings” toward the fans and repeating apologizing.
It obviously hasn’t been pretty for Nathan this season and at age 39 he seems to be deep into the decline phase of his career after a brilliant decade-long run as one of the truly elite closers in baseball for the Twins and Rangers. He’s also under contract for $10 million next season, so if Nathan and Tigers fans don’t come to some sort of understanding 2015 could be ugly at Comerica Park.