Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Sure, it was mildly annoying last winter when Noah Syndergaard posted a few silly tweets about how SNY was "trying to trade him" because of our reporting on the Mets' efforts to do so. And now we can probably add the mayor of Syracuse and a few Mets officials to the list of those with small complaints.
But you know what? The inclination here is to give Syndergaard credit for expressing honest opinions, whether or not we agree with those views.
He has thrown off clichés and thrust himself into an arena where most athletes and PR departments are loathe to go. He is giving us a glimpse of how he feels, and that's much rarer than it should be.
Syndergaard's pointed comments on Sunday will be debate fodder in columns and talk radio as the season approaches. He torched the team's upcoming visits to Syracuse and Sarasota, saying that's "not what championship teams do." (The Yankees are traveling to Washington this week, but perhaps Syndergaard considers that a higher-class destination. And I can tell you, as a Rochester native who has fishtailed into Syracuse's Exit 37 sign on 1-90 during a whiteout snow storm, he has a point).
Anyway, we're not here to litigate the validity of his comments. We're here to defend his right to offer them.
Syndergaard also weighed in on teammate Jacob deGrom's contract situation, saying that the Mets should "pay the man." Syndergaard and deGrom share an agency, CAA, but we'll give him credit that he was merely speaking from the heart.
We imagine deGrom appreciated the sentiment, and that teammates, tired after spring training, didn't mind hearing their private grumbling about Syracuse find a public voice.
That's not to say he endeared himself to management, either on the Mets or any other team that might consider acquiring him in the future.
Baseball is a conservative world, and personality often brings consequences. The Mets already tried to trade Syndergaard this winter, in part because of voices in the clubhouse who felt he was becoming too disruptive.
We're not saying those voices were right or wrong. Disruptive is in the eye of the beholder. This kind of persona worked for Matt Harvey, until it didn't -- a process that mirrored his descent from ace to fringe major leaguer. In this game, you buy your opinions with on-field results. That's not fair, but it's true.
Unless Syndergaard grows into the ace that his talent has long suggested he can be, it's easy to imagine the Mets sending him elsewhere before he becomes a free agent in three years, perhaps for someone more amenable to media training. They almost did it already. And they're not currently discussing any kind of contract extension with him.
In the meantime, here's to his rogue persona, even when it's pointed at my reporting and attempting to undermine our work. There is such a focus in sports on holding to a message, keeping opinions from the media and public, and striving to just shut up and perform.
Syndergaard's views may not always be defensible -- sometimes they are, sometimes they aren't -- but he's in the arena, submitting himself to criticism and scrutiny, and willing to be a character.
Lord knows we have enough robots.