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Joe Nathan apologizes to Tigers fans for chin-flick gesture

Aug 14, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT

Joe Nathan Tigers Getty Images

Tigers closer Joe Nathan came into last night’s game in the ninth inning with a four-run lead and walked the first two batters he faced, at which point many of the fans in Detroit began booing him.

Nathan, who has six blown saves and a 5.11 ERA in his first season with the Tigers, responded by making a chin-flick gesture that, loosely translated, means something similar to the middle finger.

This afternoon Nathan apologized for his actions, telling Jason Beck of

I think both sides were frustrated. I was frustrated. Fans obviously were frustrated. I think for myself, I apologize for that. I have two kids and I need to be a better example for them thinking how they’re still young enough that they won’t know about this. I do know, and I do need to be better for that. I know both sides are frustrated, but the thing is, we’re on the same page. The fans want to win, want us to win. We obviously want to win.

He went on to say a lot of other stuff along those same lines, making it clear that he has “no hard feelings” toward the fans and repeating apologizing.

It obviously hasn’t been pretty for Nathan this season and at age 39 he seems to be deep into the decline phase of his career after a brilliant decade-long run as one of the truly elite closers in baseball for the Twins and Rangers. He’s also under contract for $10 million next season, so if Nathan and Tigers fans don’t come to some sort of understanding 2015 could be ugly at Comerica Park.

  1. timberwolvesbrisin - Aug 14, 2014 at 1:34 PM

    *terrrible in the playoffd

  2. thebadguyswon - Aug 14, 2014 at 1:45 PM

    Scumbag move. If you’re a professional, act like it.

    • stex52 - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:22 PM

      Agreed. Bad idea, especially when you are 39 and should have grown up. But he did man up to apologize.

  3. yahmule - Aug 14, 2014 at 1:56 PM

    As long as he’s Italian he gets a pass. Otherwise it’s cultural appropriation.

    • chiadam - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:25 PM

      Bappa di boopy!!

  4. philliesblow - Aug 14, 2014 at 1:58 PM

    I always thought that gesture was Italian for “There’s something stuck in my throat and I’m choking, someone please give me the Heimlich.”

  5. happytwinsfan - Aug 14, 2014 at 2:18 PM

    I’m glad I don’t know what it feels like to get booed by tens of thousands of people because you’re not doing something well enough, even though you’re trying with all you got.

    • pete2112 - Aug 14, 2014 at 2:32 PM

      You know he gets paid fairly well to put up with the boo’s and it comes with the territory as far as I’m concerned.

      • happytwinsfan - Aug 14, 2014 at 2:44 PM

        yeah, I’d take the boos to for ten million a year, but still it must really suck. I can see how it would be easy to lose it for a minute and do something dumb.

      • pete2112 - Aug 14, 2014 at 2:48 PM

        One thing is for sure. We can’t blame Kate Upton for all of Nathan’s blown saves…. That was for you happytwinsfan. :)

        Were you fan of his when he was on the Twins? I just remember him in the 09 playoffs against the Yankees how he almost had a look of fear on the mound. I actually felt sorry for him.

      • happytwinsfan - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:00 PM

        Yeah, I liked him. The way he huffed and puffed it seemed like he was putting everything into every pitch. I bet he still is doing that, so it’s sad to hear that he’s getting booed just because he’s 39 and doesn’t quite have it anymore.

        Maybe we can blame Joe Mauer’s mom. He got into trouble with her once according to a TV commercial.

        Please don’t remind me about those Yankee playoff series

      • roseann894 - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:06 PM

        In the ’09 playoffs I actually turned off the TV after the 8th inning because the Twins were only up by 1-2 runs. I did not wish to see the inevitable.

      • pete2112 - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:39 PM

        My friend from the Verlander story must be the one giving me the thumbs down on every comment I make. I’m starting to think you’re either Justin himself or even possibly Kate.

      • happytwinsfan - Aug 14, 2014 at 4:05 PM

        pete, relax about the Kate Upton thing. If you check her posts for a while you’ll find that histro is very intelligent, and usually funny as hell. She doesn’t follow posters around awarding down thumbs.

        She got mad because in every single thread talking about Verlander’s struggles this year somebody, usually at least several people come up with Kate Upton snarks. Her argument is that when a female sports figure or celebrity is struggling you never hear anybody blame it on the boy friend or husband. I think she has a point.


      • unclemosesgreen - Aug 14, 2014 at 6:13 PM

        Oh so it’s all about the money? So we’d have to pay you to act like a human being here?

  6. fansrus - Aug 14, 2014 at 5:17 PM

    He should voluntarily retire. Otherwise, he’s just stealing money. For all those under-contract players who demand to renegotiate because they think they’re getting less than market value, I don’t see any of them offering to renegotiate downward when they don’t get the job done. You hear that Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, Curtis Granderson, etc., etc.

    • jlovenotjlo - Aug 14, 2014 at 10:21 PM

      You have no concept of the value of money. Especially boatloads of it.

  7. fansrus - Aug 14, 2014 at 5:23 PM

    Nick Swisher, B.J. Uptown, Eric Young, etc.
    To be sure, I am am pro union and not a management shill.

  8. dracko19 - Aug 14, 2014 at 5:27 PM

    “…2015 could be ugly at Comerica Park.”

    You meant “uglier”

  9. fansrus - Aug 14, 2014 at 6:26 PM

    What are you trying to say?

  10. Damidwesterner - Aug 14, 2014 at 6:30 PM

    Doesn’t matter. I’m still booing Nathan whenever he makes an appearance on the field.

  11. vikesfansteve - Aug 14, 2014 at 6:33 PM

    When the game is on the line in the playoffs he chokes everytime.

  12. rcali - Aug 14, 2014 at 8:27 PM

    What is sad is that the Tigers feel that have to keep pushing out there because they paid him all that money. But when you’ve traded away whatever young talent you have, I guess you’re stuck with this gas can.

  13. fansrus - Aug 14, 2014 at 9:49 PM

    Still waiting for him to ask to renegotiate his deal to a lesser contract. Not holding my breath.

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