Javier Báez has to embrace getting booed by Tigers fans after scoring winning run

Javy Báez should just embrace the role of the villain.

Detroit Tigers v Chicago White Sox
Detroit Tigers v Chicago White Sox / Quinn Harris/GettyImages

There's no love lost for Javier Báez much of anywhere in the league, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a higher concentration of baseball fans who despise him outside of the South Side of Chicago.

Báez hopped from one team Chicago White Sox fans hate to another — lest we forget, he won a World Series with the crosstown rivals before signing his long-term deal with the Detroit Tigers (with a very brief stint in Queens to break them up). He's always been a little infuriating, both when he's playing well and when he's not, as a flashy player and a showman when things are good, and something of a nothingburger when they're not.

On Thursday, the Tigers opened their season in Chicago, and Báez returned to terrorize White Sox fans. In his first at-bat at the top of the third, he got his first hit of the season for a single and quickly followed it up with an easy steal of second base. He moved to third on a Parker Meadows groundout, then scored on an Andy Ibáñez sac fly for the Tigers' only (but game-winning) run of the afternoon.

Javier Báez was hit with torrential boos in Tigers' Opening Day against the White Sox, and he needs to let it fuel him this season

When Báez crossed home plate, boos absolutely rained down. Post-game, he said simply, "They don't learn."

Báez has always seemed to feast on boos and hate. During his 40-something-game stint with the Mets in 2021, while he was slumping and was getting booed by the crowd at Citi Field, he gave the home fans a thumbs-down after hitting a 444-foot bomb in an August game against the Nationals. It became a celebration for other players on the team too, including Francisco Lindor, even though the Mets were quick to release a statement condemning the gesture.

The crowd at Comerica tends to be pretty easy-going, and no one's saying that fans should start booing Báez, but... maybe there is something to fueling him with that kind of negativity. They'd be boos of endearment (sort of)! If the opposite of love isn't hate, but indifference, then maybe showing that we still expect more out of the guy instead of just accepting it when he swings and misses at balls a foot off the plate would give him a boost.

It's a new dawn, a new day, a new season. Expectations for Báez should probably remain low until further notice, but any kind of improvement from last year would read as the comeback of the century.