Human Comparisons To Matt Harvey Are Getting Hard To Find

It seems like the only one that can slow down Matt Harvey is Mother Nature. Harvey took the mound on Sunday afternoon (6/23), threw six innings, struck out six batters, allowed two hits and one walk. It was a passing Philadelphia monsoon – a game delay of twenty-odd minutes – that kept him from lasting into the eighth inning or beyond. His season is rapidly approaching “legendary” status. To the astonishment of Met fans, starts like Sunday’s are starting to become the norm. Even a level-headed fellow like my friend Howard Megdal is enthralled.

We’ve all heard the comparisons to the great Met pitching seasons (Tom Seaver’s 1971, Dwight Gooden’s 1985, R.A. Dickey’s 2012). We’ve also heard the contemporary comparisons, with names like Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw and Jered Weaver bandied about. Superlatives are beginning to fail us. Look closer at that Megdal piece: Harvey is accomplishing things not thought possible. Maybe Matt Harvey really is Sidd Finch – the mythical creature created by George Plimpton as the baseball fans’ ultimate April Fools’ prank. Quick! Check Harvey’s locker for a missing work boot and a French horn.

Perhaps a more apt comparison might not even be found among homo sapiens. Back to Megdal, as he points out Harvey’s increasing velocity as the season has gone on: pitch f/x has his velocity up two MPH this June over June 2012, when he made his major league debut. On Sunday, he barely scraped 101 MPH with his fastball and even sported a 94 MPH slider. With that kind of velocity, his curve and change-up – “floating” up there at 85 and 88 MPH respectively – make most hitters look like a man trying to swat a gnat with a sledgehammer. These numbers are simply not supposed to happen.

The last athlete your intrepid columnist can recall that denied the accepted physics and flattened conventional wisdom like this was Secretariat. You can make all the jokes you want about Harvey being the horse of the pitching staff, but like the fabled Big Red, he just runs and runs and runs, and if someone is gaining, he simply runs harder. Harvey has no compunction about telling everyone how hard he is on himself, how he can push himself to be better, how he can eliminate mistakes, such as the odd hit, or base-on-balls. And like the 1973 Triple Crown winner, he’s good and he knows it.

And we Met fans are lucky enough to get to watch, up close, every fifth day.

Follow me on Twitter @CharlieHangley

9 comments for “Human Comparisons To Matt Harvey Are Getting Hard To Find

  1. Jerry Grote
    June 25, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    the analogy rings true; when he thinks someone is gaining on him, he simply runs harder. His numbers when runners are on base are a testimonial to this … but look at how he pitched against Kershaw. What he is doing now, that Wheeler is “sharing” his mound.

    I find myself while he’s pitching, looking at his stats trying to figure out how many innings he’s already thrown … to figure out more innings he might have left in his career. And then I see it … the “1″ handle. He has only thrown 1xx innings so far.

    We might see this for another *1900* innings. Or more.

  2. Chris F
    June 25, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    It is phenomenal we Mets fans get to be regular first-hand witnesses to Harvey on the launch pad, despite the torpor of most of his teammates. 1900 more innings…and Ill watch every one.

    Like Seaver and Gooden before, he makes me genuinely feel that a World Championship is possible.

  3. Big Dog
    June 25, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    Let’s see….hmmmmm….other sport comparisons, if a little of each were thrown in as in a recipe….

    NFL – LT (overall talent & domination), Butkus (Pure aggression), Staubach (leadership, never say die attitude), Nitschke (the snarl)

    NHL – Crosby (skill), Orr (relentlessness), Gretzky (awe)

    MLB – Seaver (oh what was 1968-1977…utter joy for Mets fans, sheer terror for the opposition, revisited 2012-????), Clemens/Schilling (grit, determination).

    Add in some Ed & Jackie (parents), with a heaping spoonful of fatherly advice plus skillful coaching, and….

    Throw ‘em in a bowl, let ‘em rise several times through high school, college, Single-A+, Double-A, and Triple-A, then bake in the summer of 2012, and out pops the most dominant pitcher in the Majors in 2013.

    Recipe of the year…

  4. June 25, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    This is one of the most interesting articles I’ve read on any sport. Comparison between a pitcher and a race horse is not something I would have come up with. Bravo!

    I still believe Matt Harvey is a combination of Tom Seaver (power, legs, intelligence) and Mark Messier (tougher than tough in his attitude).

    If he stays off Page Six, and stays healthy…



    • June 25, 2013 at 3:07 pm

      Thanks, Peter. I was looking for another athlete who could accomplish the seemingly impossible with relative ease. All I could think of was Secretariat’s Belmont.

  5. June 25, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    “He’s like a tremendous machine” as Belmont announcer Chic Anderson famously put it. And Harvey sure looks it. And Secretariat did his greatest work in a Mets pennant year–1973. Good work by Charlie and Harvey.

  6. June 25, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    Harvey,Wheeler,Niese and Gee can be a solid starting rotation. Need to address the bull pen and the outfield and we can as Met fans can hope 2014 brings us a wild card.

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