- Last Updated: 9:21 AM, September 13, 2011
- Posted: 1:39 AM, September 13, 2011
A red-faced Bud Selig called the Mets on Sunday night, the commissioner of baseball irate that the organization had thrown his office "under the bus" in divulging MLB was responsible for the decision that banned players from wearing caps honoring emergency services workers during the 9/11 game at Citi Field.
"[Selig] got embarrassed by it," a Mets official said before last night's 3-2 loss to the Nationals. "The game got moved into prime time because of 9/11, and [MLB] ended up getting embarrassed."
Amid lingering outrage the Mets didn't wear the NYPD, FDNY and PAPD caps during the game -- as they had in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks -- the organization and MLB went into damage control mode yesterday.
In an interview with Sirius XM radio, MLB disciplinary czar Joe Torre denied the Mets were threatened with a fine if they didn't comply with the uniform code. The Mets were allowed to wear the caps honoring first responders during batting practice and the pre-game ceremony, but had to remove them for their game against the Cubs.
"Nothing was ordered," Torre said. "I think they were sent a memo, but in no way was it heavy-handed. I don't think money was ever an issue or they were ever threatened with a heavy-fisted fine. If that's the case, I have no knowledge of it."
A person familiar with Selig's thinking said the commissioner never threatened the Mets with a fine. The source hinted the Mets' hierarchy perhaps used threat of a fine as a scare tactic in getting players to comply. The source also suggested the Mets perhaps fueled the fire by waiting until the last minute to inform players they couldn't wear the caps during the game. MLB had issued the memo several days in advance of the game.
But another source said Mets COO Jeff Wilpon was "back and forth" with the commissioner's office on the matter until the proverbial 11th hour, when it was decided the Mets, on the hook for a $25 million loan from MLB, shouldn't risk the wrath of Selig.
"It was in our control a little bit, but yet it wasn't," catcher Josh Thole said.
When the Mets entered the clubhouse following pregame ceremonies, they put the emergency services caps on a table and signed them for charity. They were not confiscated by MLB, according to multiple sources, as some reports had suggested.
"I talked to a number of players and the one thing that comes about is not about the hats," manager Terry Collins said. "It was about celebrating the people who lost their lives on 9/11, the first responders that were heroes among us, that is who we were honoring.
"Whether we wore the hat of that was not the issue. It was not what we had on our heads -- it was what's in our hearts."
David Wright wore a cap honoring the police department in the dugout during the early innings of Sunday's game. He had received it weeks ago, separate from the cap worn in the pregame tribute, but later removed it. One source said Collins told Wright he should remove the cap so not to create a flap, but Wright told The Post he was unaware of any controversy until after the game.
"It wasn't me trying to challenge anything," Wright said. "If I knew it was going to create this kind of controversy, I wouldn't have done it in the first place."Follow @NYPostsports