MLB should be ashamed over hat controversy

Ronny Paulino wearing an FDNY hat during pregame -- before the hats were taken away for the game.

Major League Baseball, you should be ashamed of yourselves.

If you missed the story out of the Mets-Cubs game last night, you can be forgiven. The Jets were playing, the weight of the 9/11 anniversary and accompanying tributes was still lingering and you probably just watched 8 hours of football. It was mentally exhausting. So maybe you missed this gem from MLB — when the Mets tried to wear their FDNY, NYPD, PAPD hats during the game, the hats were literally, physically taken away from the team.

Read that last sentence again. Not only were the players told not to wear them, and threatened with fines if they did, MLB literally took the hats away after the pre-game tribute so the players couldn’t wear them.

“For all those upset that we didn’t wear the hats, I understand your
anger,” Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey tweeted last night after the game  “However, they physically took them from us after the ceremony.”

There are no words to describe how stupid MLB was in making this decision. Dickey continued.

“We had conspired to wear them but we got found out and MLB got involved.”

You had to conspire to wear them?!

MLB commissioner Bud Selig should have personally handed them to you as you took the field. He, nor anyone in the big office in Manhattan, has even ventured to say why they wouldn’t allow it. Was it due a marketing deal? No profit from selling them, like the American flag hats worn on Memorial Day and July 4?

It doesn’t even matter. There is no discernible reason why the Mets should not have been allowed to wear the hats.

None. Zero. Zip. Zilch.

MLB should apologize not just to the Mets, but also the fans, members of
the police and fire departments in New York and the families of those
lost on 9/11. And they should do it now. Like right now. Not tomorrow,
not in a couple days. Now. Then they should make a substantial donation to various 9/11 charities. That’s a good start — and only a start — to make up for this.

David Wright apparently tried to sneak a hat on in the fourth inning — and had it taken away before the next inning. This isn’t the players’ fault, but they still should have physically made MLB pry the hats from their hands. Walk out onto the field, holding the hat in your hand for the entire crowd to see, and stare down the poor security guy MLB was forcing to wrestle an FDNY hat from your clutches.

Bears linebacker Lance Briggs had threatened to wear American flag gloves and shoes in yesterday’s game and also tweeted that the NFL should be ashamed for threatening to fine him. That league famously fined Peyton Manning for wearing unapproved white cleats to honor Johnny Unitas after his death (coincidentally on Sept. 11, 2002). NFL realized fines was uncalled for in this situation and allowed the players to make any tribute they wanted.

So what was MLB’s problem? And when I say what was MLB’s problem, I don’t mean what was their problem with the players wearing the hats.

I mean what physical ailment caused them to be so stupid.


Follow New York sports editor Mark Osborne on Twitter @MetroNYSports.


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