Add New York Mets starter Noah Syndergaard to the list of modern players who are done playing by baseball's unwritten rules.
Speaking to Clay Skipper of GQ Magazine for a story that published Tuesday, the hurler explained that baseball has gotten "soft" and that its unspoken code is "pretty stupid." Now that players are challenging one another on the field and exploding with showmanship, Syndergaard noted there's a game within the game and pointed to Trevor Bauer's recent back-and-forth with Fernando Tatis Jr. as the perfect example.
"It’s fun, but we're also competitive beings competing at the highest level. So we're always looking for a way to get the edge on our competition, whether it's to distract him in some form or fashion. But I think it's great for baseball, and I think the fans really enjoy it. It's exciting. People are able to see both of our personalities. I think baseball has gotten soft, too. I think there should be some more s--t-talking. I agree with what Bauer recently said: [about the celebration], he gave up two home runs to Tatis, and Tatis heckled him pretty good. I think that's awesome. I agree with Bauer, that does not warrant somebody to get thrown at."
Syndergaard took his own shot at Bauer earlier this year when the marquee free agent spurned the Mets to join the Los Angeles Dodgers on a three-year, $102 million contract. Bauer tried to mitigate anger over his decision and offered to donate $10,000 to New York charities. Syndergaard then mocked him via Twitter:
It's rare to see players call each other out over free-agent decisions, but it's just another way the game continues to shift toward those willing to show off their personalities.
Bauer responded by posting a collection of Syndergaard's social media interactions with fans and telling the pitcher to be nicer in his response—a message that had baseball fans calling Bauer a hypocrite after he had harassed a fan on Twitter.
Baseball's old guard would often police itself with the threat of a hit-by-pitch if anyone crossed the line. Syndergaard and Bauer clearly don't subscribe to that on-field notion.
"I think [unwritten rules are] pretty stupid, to be honest," Syndergaard told GQ. "Anything unwritten sounds pretty stupid. I think it's very old school, and I think there needs to be a new-school approach."
The Dodgers and Mets won't play each other until August—when they'll face off six times, with three games in New York and four more in Los Angeles. That'll give Syndergaard plenty of time to continue with his rehab from Tommy John surgery and get back on the field.
In May, the only thing the two can do is trade barbs from their respective coasts.