With a fiery fastball, flowing golden locks, and the nickname Thor, New York Mets star pitcher Noah Syndergaard might be expected to have a Marvel-sized personality. But off the field, like any good superhero alter ego, the 24-year-old is soft spoken and contemplative. He even seems smaller than his listed 6 feet 6 inches, and despite being on the disabled list with a back injury, his strong handshake belies his superhuman powers.
Like Peter Parker, he even admits to a bit of jitters on days he’s going to pitch. “Honestly, sometimes in the past, I’ll be nervous from the moment I get up,” he says. But “you embrace that. You use that energy.” But that can also mean before a start he won’t want to eat very much.
That’s pretty unusual given that Syndergaard goes out of his way to keep a healthy diet and get in his workouts. “You use your body to play this game. You’re a professional athlete. You got to fuel it the right way,” he says. “It doesn’t make any sense to be putting garbage in your body.”
This season, what’s helped is that the Mets now travel with their own chef, who organizes the team’s meals when they’re home and away. “Last year, we’d go on the road, and the clubhouse manager for the opposing team was responsible for getting the food, and it was godawful,” Syndergaard remembers. “We’re a professional baseball team and you’re serving us cafeteria food?”
The team will now arrange for local healthy restaurants to cater their pre-game meals. Syndergaard was excited that his beloved Kozy Kitchen in Dallas had provided food for a recent game, while the Mets were playing in Texas. His favorite dish, the Bowl of Doom (sweet potato hash, applewood smoked bacon, country gravy, avocado, scrambled eggs) was, of course, served.
He also makes sure to have a supply of hot sauce with him when he travels. There are bottles of it in his locker at all times. “It’s something I really can’t live without or go without for a season,” he says. It makes sense, “growing up in Texas, we’re drinking that stuff coming out of the womb.” (So, it’s no surprise that he recently starred in a commercial for Cholula’s limited-edition sweet habanero hot sauce that’s only available to members of the brand’s new fan club, the Order of Cholula.)
Syndergaard not only likes adding a few dashes of the hot stuff to his favorite dishes but also to his drinks. “Micheladas are amazing,” he says. “I love Bloody Marys.”
But like any good superhero, he has own form of kryptonite. “I’ll never eat a tomato,” he says. Let’s hope the Philadelphia Phillies don’t hear about that.