Joe Torre, MLB's Chief Baseball Officer, explained Sunday during a stop at Citi Field just exactly what the league's reasoning is when it comes to refusing to allow the Mets to wear first responder hats in-game each September 11.
"The only problem is -- and obviously I'm sensitive to 9/11, there's no question about it," Torre said in the Mets' dugout prior to Sunday night's game. "What's not important, you know, to do something different? That's the only thing. Just a uniformity that we try to bring to all the teams. If we allow one team, somebody God forbid, a young child, and you wind up able to do stuff everywhere. That's the only issue. In order to be uniform and be fair to all the other teams, we try to keep the game hats on for the games."
The above quote is verbatim from Torre. It is unclear the point he's trying to get across when referring to the "young child."
Asked if he foresees the league's policy changing, Torre said "I don't see it changing, really, in the future."
Torre added that teams are allowed to wear patches to commemorate certain things and that players have been given more freedom when it comes to footwear.
It should be noted that the Houston Astros were allowed to wear commemorative hats in-game earlier this summer to recognize the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. Yet, the Mets are not allowed to wear first responder hats due to a "uniformity" issue.
Former Met Mike Piazza, who hit the emotional go-ahead home run in the first game on New York soil after 9/11, weighed in on the issue on Monday, and lambasted the league.
"For what it's worth I strongly disagree with @MLB policy on not allowing the @Mets or any other team to wear police or first responder hats for 9/11 games," Piazza tweeted. "Understand their argument but non analogous with respect to other tragedies, and/or other events. We were directly affected and did not play for a week.The Mets and Yankees for that matter were extremely close to many lost, I hope and pray something can be worked out. #NeverForget #NeverForget911 #Mets #MLB"
The Mets, who wore the first responder hats in-game (in defiance of MLB) for every game in 2001 after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, have tried to wear them several times since on the anniversary of the attacks and been denied by MLB and threatened with fines.
Pete Alonso wanted the Mets to wear the hats this year on Sept. 11, and after saying he was shut down by MLB, pivoted to creating custom cleats for the entire team to honor the first responders -- with the whole team wearing them without asking the league for permission.
"Originally I wanted to do some hats for us," Alonso said last week. "I wanted to do custom hats with whatever group of first responders -- if someone wanted to do FDNY or Port Authority they had the choice. Unfortunately there's a lot of red tape with Major League Baseball, and they kind of shot that idea down. I think it's kind of sad that guys weren't allowed to -- since that day the first game back, they kind of shut it down every year since. I think that's really unfortunate."
After Torre's chat with reporters pregame on Sunday, he joined the WCBS 880 radio booth to speak with Howie Rose about the issue.
"We try to keep the hats the way they are because every team could really have a legitimate reason to want to wear a different hat to honor something that happened in their particular area," Torre said. "And we just try to keep it consistent with the uniform."
When told by Rose that the 9/11 situation with the Mets is unique and that the "idea is to pay tribute to those who to this day are still giving their lives for those agencies," Torre stuck with his original talking points but left the door open a crack for something to change in the future.
"There's no question that's something you never want to forget and is something that -- you don't celebrate it, you commemorate it. I understand that. But again, probably you have New Yorkers living and playing for other teams too that can't do it that would like to do it, I'm sure. And again, I'm not saying Howie like some time in the future that something happens. But we have to do it with all the teams. ... there may be a day that there'd be a special uniform for that particular -- as they say -- memory of 9/11."