The New York Mets had taken the first two games of a three game set in exciting fashion, and a chance to sweep away the Washington Nationals in Washington as they had done to the Mets in New York just a week ago. The stage was set: a Sunday Matinee at Nationals Park with a match-up of Thor, aka Noah Syndergaard, taking on the average Joe Ross. This was a clear-cut advantage for the squad hailing from Queens, and as the ace of the staff you’re thinking: Thor has to smell blood in the water, a chance to step up and really solidify his spot atop this very talented rotation.
One week ago, Syndergaard had a start pushed back because his mighty right arm was feeling “tired”. That forced Matt Harvey into a last minute start, which resulted in a poor outing because of how late Syndergaard let the coaching staff know he wouldn’t be ready.
Usually in these circumstances with a pitcher who’s complaining about arm troubles there comes an MRI, but in this case the God-like figure refused the test. He stated that his arm was now feeling great after a couple extra days of rest and was ready to take on the Washington Nationals on Sunday, April 30th 2017.
That confidence in his hulk-like right arm lasted 1.1 innings, allowing 5 earned runs, walking his first batter of the season, only striking out 2 hitters and as it turns out earned him a partially torn right lat muscle in the process. The 23-5 thrashing by the Nationals seems meaningless now as Syndergaard is on the 10-day DL and has been ruled out indefinitely.
I want talk about the underlying cause here, which is ego.
Ego is the Enemy is not only a great book by bestselling author Ryan Holiday, it is what I believe has been the downfall of the New York Mets’ ace since the off-season.
They say in baseball, much like life, that you can’t get too high or too low on yourself because they’ll both effect you negatively. Too low and the self doubt creeps in, you begin to question and overthink every single thing you do in addition to trying too hard. If you experience success and get too high on yourself, you begin to imagine yourself as God’s given gift to the game, like your stuff don’t stink.
Well, after the stellar season Noah had last year, he wasn’t able to smell himself coming into this year. He put on 17 pounds of muscle in the off-season wanting to throw even harder than he already does. He thought that he could do no wrong and that he knows best even when he can’t lift his arm over his head. As a pitcher, if you can’t lift your arm over your head, that’s a BIG problem, one that needs to be checked out.
This is where the enemy of ego kicks in; he refuses the MRI because he didn’t want there to be anything wrong. I mean, he is Thor and he pitched with bone chips in his elbow last season. General Manager Sandy Alderson jokingly said, “I can’t tie him down and throw him in the tube.” when speaking about Noah possibly getting an MRI. Maybe you should have Sandy, maybe you should have. Now, the New York Mets are going to be without their ego driven ace for who knows how long.
Baseball, much like life, has a way of humbling all of us. There is a fine line between confidence and cockiness, a line Thor seems to have crossed or is at least toeing with his rise to superhero status. I believe this injury will be good in the long run for Noah Syndergaard because it’ll prove to himself that he is in fact human, and he’ll hopefully be humbled by it. This is a huge loss to the Mets short term, but due to his growing ego it’ll be better in the long run.
My advice: Go do your rehab in Florida away from the team, check your ego at the door, and get back to just being the best pitcher/teammate you can be, focusing on winning a World Series as simply Noah Syndergaard.