Most observers were surprised when pitcher Noah Syndergaard spurned the Mets’ qualifying offer of $18.4 million and signed a $21 million, one-year contract with the Los Angeles Angels. As the 2021 season was nearing its end, Syndergaard was professing his love for the Mets and practically begging them to offer him a deal.

It should be noted he has only pitched two innings over the last two years because of arm injuries. There has been speculation he may have incurred those injuries due to his off-season workout regimen, which consisted of strenuous weightlifting. He was trying to live up to the “Thor” nickname fans bestowed upon him.

Mets fans were always hoping Syndergaard would be their Randy Johnson. Both pitchers resembled basketball players and both threw heat to opposing hitters. While Syndergaard was instrumental in getting the Mets to the World Series in 2015 — he did earn the win in Game 3, which was the Mets’ only victory over the Kansas City Royals — he was not Randy Johnson.

Some fans were miffed Syndergaard left the Mets after begging them for an offer, and were even more incensed when Mets President Sandy Alderson said Syndergaard did not give his old team a chance to match the Angels’ pact.

My guess is Angels owner Arte Moreno told Syndergaard’s agents that his offer was take-it-or-leave-it, and wanted an immediate answer. It’s hard to blame him for not wanting to be used as a pawn in getting Syndergaard a bigger payday. You also can’t fault Syndergaard for taking a deal that is $2.6 million more than what the Mets were offering. There is a good chance his career is over if he doesn’t have a good 2022 season.

Aside from the Angels’ generosity, Syndergaard may have another reason to relocate to Southern California. Since he needs to both prove himself and stay injury-free, he may have feared what the traditionally cold and damp April weather in the Northeast could do to his throwing arm. He won’t have that concern in sunny, dry Anaheim.

His unexpected departure leaves the Mets very thin in the starting pitching department. New general manager Billy Eppler (more about him next week) acknowledged that in his introductory press conference last week. Ace pitcher Jacob deGrom missed the entire second half of the season with arm issues. Carlos Carrasco and Taijuan Walker were piranha fodder for opposing hitters from the All-Star Game break through the end of September. The Mets’ most dependable pitcher in 2021, Marcus Stroman, is a free agent who must have been popping champagne bottles after learning of Syndergaard’s pact.

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New York Mets owner Steve Cohen got off a good riposte at Friday’s press conference to introduce Eppler as the team’s new general manager. A reporter asked Cohen what he learned from his first season of in charge. “It’s better to spend 100 days in first place at the end of the season as opposed to the middle,” he replied without missing a beat.

Luis Rojas, whose contract was not renewed by the Mets at the end of the 2021 season after he spent two years as the team’s skipper, will be the third base coach for the New York Yankees. I have a hunch Yankees executives must have been trying to get Rojas to talk about the differences between the Mets’ old owners, the Wilpon family, and their new one, Steve Cohen.

The New York Jets continued to make an art form of how to incur penalties at inopportune times, as well as write a textbook on clock mismanagement, in their 24-17 loss to the equally putrid Miami Dolphins this past Sunday.

Joe Namath’s well-deserved nickname was “Broadway Joe” because he had a swagger that captured New York City in the 1960s. Current Jets QB Joe Flacco has refused to do what is necessary to help us defeat Covid-19 so I think he deserves the sobriquet of “Unvaccinated Joe.”

Former Jets running back Frank Gore, who retired at the end of last season after 16 NFL seasons, will be facing former Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams in a celebrity boxing match that will be televised on Showtime Pay Per View on Saturday, Dec. 18.

At a Manhattan press conference last Tuesday, I asked Gore if he ever considered a pro wrestling career, something former football players have done. “I never had any interest in that,” he replied. He also said he hasn’t seen much of the Jets this season, which is lucky for him.

Williams, whose NBA career did not live up to expectations, admitted he misses playing at Barclays Center.


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