So were the Mets threatened with fines over the first responder hats or not?

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There’s not much left to say about MLB’s strange and regrettable decision to prevent the Mets from wearing FDNY and NYPD hats on Sunday night. It’s over and likely will be until next 9/11, depending on what the marketers and money men decide.

But there is an open question, highlighted in the New York Daily News this morning:  Did Major League Baseball threaten the Mets with heavy fines if they wore the hats?

I believe that all the fines were going to be just crazy amounts,” Thole said. “It was coming down from the top as if the fine to the ballclub was going to be significant, and that was something (where) nobody wanted to overstep the bounds there.”

Joe Torre, MLB’s executive vice president for baseball operations, said the decision to prohibit the Mets from donning the hats was based on wanting all 32 teams dressed uniformly Sunday and that no one had been threatened with fines. “I heard in several places that it was a ‘mandate’ we ‘ordered,'” Torre told SiriusXM Radio. “Nothing was ordered.”

Those two statements really don’t’ mesh.

Yesterday, on his Twitter feed, R.A. Dickey said that someone from baseball came through the dugout and actually confiscated all of the first responder caps so no player could wear them.  Unless it was Bud Selig himself with a scowl on his face collecting them, what would compel the players to actually give them up? Seems like a team edict — inspired by a threat — could do the trick. Or a threat that came directly to the players would.

Yes, it’s possible that the players all just company men who didn’t really question it when someone said “you gotta give up the caps,” but I’m having a hard time seeing that.  There had to be something else going on here, didn’t there?

UPDATE:  There’s more in the New York Post.  Seems that the Mets and the league were going back and forth over it until the 11th hour and, ultimately, the Mets decided to back down because they’re in deep debt to Major League Baseball over all of their financial problems and didn’t want to rock the boat.  And the fact that it came out that MLB was behind the ban “deeply embarrassed Bud Selig.”

Oh, so sorry, Bud. It’s a shame that you ended up being embarrassed over your embarrassing acts.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.