ESPN.com is reporting today that commissioner Bud Selig is angry over the Mets taking the "no commemorative hats" on 9/11 public. Selig was reportedly irate and embarrassed that word got out and reflected poorly on the league, especially on national television. The team, specifically manager Terry Collins, said it is a distraction and that the focus should not be on what hats we wear, but who we are playing.
"It all takes away from their preparation. They're all being asked questions that they're afraid to make an answer, they're afraid to say the wrong thing. We've got to start focusing on what the game is, because, when it's all said and done, that's all that matters."
I agree with Collins, but I also think Major League Baseball went too far in ordering a "stand down" to wearing 9/11 commemorative hats. It is true that teams have requested alternate hats before, but this is a case ten years ago when guys like Mike Piazza and Derek Jeter forged bonds with the first responders, and their families, and have continued to do so one day of the season every year.
What the league may be trying to avoid is a slippery slope. The Nationals tried to honor the fallen Navy SEALs by wearing commemorative hats, but MLB nixed that plan because it was not a league-wide plan, which is in their new policy.
"We reserve hats for national tributes, where every club is wearing them on the same day," league spokesman Pat Courtney told the Washington Post. "But we’re happy to work with clubs on alternatives."
The reality of it all is fans like to see these types of gestures, specifically the wearing of 9/11 first responders hats. It is a small but genuine gesture, and delivers a message of unity and resilience.