The World Baseball Classic is slated to start on Monday, and many around the world are excited about it. One of those that aren’t is Mets ace Noah Syndergaard.
New York’s Opening Day starter turned down an invitation to play in the World Baseball Classic early on last year. Team USA is already one of the favorites to win the tournament, but as one of the best US-born pitchers, they really wanted to have Syndergaard join their ranks.
Syndergaard’s reasoning behind the decline made sense. He’s pitched a lot the last two seasons, so putting more miles on his arm could compromise his chances at pitching deep into the season for the Mets. He was thankful for the invitation and graceful in his decline. All good.
Unfortunately, after Friday afternoon’s game – a game that was started by Syndergaard himself – he offered some extended comments about the World Baseball Classic that frankly don’t make him look good at all.
After being asked about the World Baseball Classic and not participating in it, Syndergaard responded: “Because I’m a Met. Ain’t nobody made it to the Hall of Fame or the World Series playing in the WBC.”
While I love that his reasoning starts off with the fact that he’s a Met, and it’s obviously true that the WBC is not nearly as big of a deal in baseball as the World Series, Syndergaard’s comments do come off a bit childish.
They also may not sit well with those that are actually excited about playing in it (like ten of his teammates that are also Mets) and those at Major League Baseball that are trying to make the international games more relevant.
This isn’t the first time Syndergaard has knocked the international tournament either. Back in February, he told the New York Post that it was “a piece-of-cake decision” to turn down the World Baseball Classic, adding again that his focus is to win with the Mets.
As a Mets fan, I love his passion and loyalty to the Amazin’s, and the fact that he’s skipping these games to stay more fresh. But Syndergaard doesn’t need to knock the WBC in order to justify his absence, and him doing so makes him look immature.
Cabrera – who was left off Venezuela’s World Baseball Classic roster last minute – was furious about not being able to play in the tournament. Familia – who’s facing a possible suspension to start the year – considers it an honor to be able to play alongside other Dominican stars this spring in an attempt to repeat as champions. For these guys, the Classic is about national pride, and that’s enough of a reason.
Who can forget how amazing it was to see a healthy David Wright play for Team USA in the 2009 World Baseball Classic? That walk-off against Puerto Rico was incredible, even if Derek Jeter was part of the celebration.
Or maybe the 2013 World Baseball Classic is a bigger favorite. That year’s tournament would end up earning David Wright the nickname “Captain America.”
The good thing is at least Syndergaard will be staying in his normal routine and spring schedule this season, so even as a fan of Team USA, I can’t be too disappointed. He hasn’t ruled out pitching in the WBC in his 30s though, but after these latest comments, Team USA may not be inclined to invite him back.