Excuse me a minute while I dip into my #HotTake chamber and morph into a WFAN overnight show caller. It’s just, well, Matt Harvey is really pissing me off.
You see, it’s been years since I’ve been able to care about the Mets this late in the season, and, frankly, I’m loving it. Summers are better when your favorite baseball team is playing meaningful games. It gives you something to check in on every night, something to follow and get into on nights when Bachelor Paradise isn’t on TV.
Making the summer even better was the fact that this post-Cespedes Mets team has been an absolute joy to watch. They mash, they field and they seemingly have flame-throwing monsters taking the hill every single night, that is except those nights when the jolly circular acrobat known as Bartolo Colon gets the ball, which turns Mets games into a mesmerizing circus where any moment you might see a movement which blows your mind.
But the man at the helm of the Mets’ resurgence has been Matt Harvey. It wasn’t just the perfect mechanics or that heat-seeking missile of a fastball or the dazzling numbers that made Harvey so fun and captivating. It was that look and attitude he brought with him to the mound, the idea that him being untouchable was a fact and one he was constantly reveling in.
Oh, and he also had no problem being the guy to throw at opposing villains when his teammates needed a little protecting.
This was, after all, Gotham’s Dark Knight, words which he engraved into his bats. He was a badass, one who could make an August Tuesday night in Flushing seems like Game 7 of the World Series.
But this is where that narrative, that image of a gangster pitcher blowing away everyone in his path, starts to wash away. By now, if you’re reading this, you’re likely familiar with the recent hoopla surrounding Harvey and the Mets. Harvey is coming off Tommy John Surgery. Someone — whether it’s him, or his agent Scott Boras, or Dr. James Andrews, or someone else, or a mixture of all them is unclear — is worried about him surpassing 180 innings in his first full season post surgery. Right now Harvey has thrown 166.1. He was supposed to make four more starts this year, and that doesn’t include the playoffs.
In theory, I have no issue with a pitcher wanting to protect himself and his right arm. That, after all, is his money-maker, and we know a team would have no qualms cutting a player if he ceased performing at a high level. If Matt Harvey wants to look out for himself first, that’s fine by me.
What is not fine by me is a pitcher bitching and complaining all season every time his organization tries to manage his workload and then waiting until after the trade deadline to send his agent to the media to inform the baseball world that there’s a problem.
Let’s rewind for a second: it bears reminding that Harvey actually wanted to return to the mound last September and was reportedly peeved when the Mets wouldn’t permit it. That became a thing in the tabloids. This season, when the Mets said they would go to a six-man rotation to give Harvey some additional rest, he complained.
That, it turns out, was all a facade, Havey playing up this idea of him being the tough guy who doesn’t want to sit, ever. That’s at least how it seems right now. If 180 innings was really the number, well, Harvey should have been welcoming these days off instead of going all caveman. It also would have been cool if he had, at some point, had a mature, adult-like conversation with the Mets so that, I don’t know, maybe they could have been aware of his plan to parachute away before the playoffs. I’m no expert, but that kind of seems like the sort of info that’s normally useful to have prior to the trade deadline.
Even if you’re of the belief that this hard-cap of 180 inning is something that Dr. Andrews only recently suggested, well, Harvey still handled this whole thing like a primadonna toddler. He allowed his agent to go to the media with this info, then, upon being questioned by reporters repeatedly said, “I’m just focused on Tuesday,” his next starts, which he’ll make against the Nationals. Then he allowed some PR crony to pen a letter for him stating that he will, indeed, pitch in the playoffs, and published it on the Player’s Tribune. Again, there doesn’t appear to be a mature bone in this man’s body. Forget about a badass one.
So here we are, with the Mets holding onto a four-game lead over the Nationals in the National League East and the teams scheduled to kick off a three game series today. Matt Harvey is slated to pitch Tuesday. I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes eight innings and strikes out 14.
But it won’t feel the same as it did in the past. All summer I was telling my then-fiance-now-wife about how I couldn’t wait to take her to a Harvey Night at Citi Field, that even someone like her, a non-baseball fan who finds the sport excruciatingly slow, would have a blast watching Harvey ignite the crowd. Now I think that ship has sailed. Matt Harvey might help the Mets make the playoffs, and maybe even win a few October games. But the era of the Mets’ Dark Knight has come to an end. Looking back, I don’t think it ever really began.