The Royals may have won the World Series, but that doesn’t erase the fact that Noah Syndergaard knocked down Alcides Escobar last October. And Major League Baseball won’t forget what happened between these teams, either.
Before Sunday night’s Mets-Royals opener at Kauffman Stadium, MLB spokesman Pat Courtney said the umpiring crew will be reminded of the previous hostilities and the potential for any lingering bad blood, which is standard protocol for any series. Newsday reported Tuesday that the Royals, according to sources, were considering retaliation for Syndergaard’s purpose pitch, but there are no plans to have any special warnings or a high-alert status in effect for the World Series rematch, the first of its kind to take place during an opening series.
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“No one in here is following what’s going on in Royals camp,” David Wright said Wednesday. “That’s foolish to start to get into a back and forth with the Royals. They’re the world champions. They won the World Series, deservingly so. As far as I’m concerned, if they have an issue with what happened last year, that’s up to them to decide. But we’ll worry about 2016.”
MLB always is wary of revenge tactics taking away from the main event on the field, especially during the playoffs or a national prime-time game such as Sunday’s. When Chase Utley’s leg-breaking takeout slide of Ruben Tejada threatened to turn Game 3 of the NLDS into a steel-cage match, Joe Torre, MLB’s chief of baseball operations, quickly suspended Utley in an effort to prevent the Mets from taking the law into their own hands.
For the Mets-Royals series, Matt Harvey will start Opening Night, followed by Syndergaard on Tuesday. With the game being played by the American League host’s rules, Syndergaard won’t get a turn at the plate. If the Royals want payback, they’ll have to hunt him down 60 feet, 6 inches away, as Syndergaard famously said after Game 3 last October. Or take out their frustration on someone else, such as Mets leadoff hitter Curtis Granderson.
“I really don’t know what they’re going to retaliate against,” Syndergaard said. “All I did was establish the inside part of the plate, so I don’t know what all this retaliation talk is about. But it’s going to be an interesting time.”
The Royals never went after Syndergaard that night at Citi Field, refusing to even send a message by throwing at him, and vented anger only in their clubhouse. Kansas City made it a moot point by finishing off the Mets in Game 5, delaying any retribution fantasies until the teams meet again at the start of the 2016 season.
“No one was happy about it,” Alex Gordon told the Kansas City Star. “I mean, who would be? But it is what it is. We’ve forgotten about it and it’s over.”
Syndergaard’s pitch aside, there will be plenty of other reminders of that October grudge match during a two-day celebration at Kauffman. The Royals will raise their championship banner before the opener and distribute the World Series rings before Tuesday’s matinee.
“As soon as we get to Kansas City, it’s going to be pedal to the metal from there,” Syndergaard said. “We’re all looking forward to it.”
With Marc Carig