There are 38 guys on the Mets roster and only one of them bothers me being on the team. And hopefully the nameless, useless LOOGY won’t be on the playoff roster. There are three guys who don’t do it for me but all three have gone from starting roles on Opening Day to time-sharing roles here down the stretch, so that’s a good thing in my mind. And then there’s Matt Harvey.
Harvey being on the Mets thrills me. As a fan, you live to have the chance for a guy like Harvey playing on your team and to root for him. It’s fantastic to have a guy on your side that makes fans of other teams jealous. He’s a guy who’s not afraid of the spotlight, a guy who’s living his life the way a young, articulate millionaire should. He’s going to Rangers games and dating super models and playing pranks with Jimmy Fallon.
And even after missing an entire year due to injury, he comes back and was his dominating self. Sure, the won-loss record wasn’t as gaudy as it could be, due mostly to the inept offense of half the season, but each time Harvey went to the mound, the fans expected something great. If he had to pitch the last game of the season with everything at stake, there’s no way on earth he’d allow 7 ER in 0.1 IP. That is simply unfathomable.
Which is what makes the kerfuffle over his usage so utterly disappointing.
We’re so used to Harvey doing everything right and here was something that was not only bungled but screwed up so badly that the same fan base that adored him was ready to ship him out of town at a discounted rate. As an unabashed Harvey fan the whole thing felt like a bone-crushing punch to the kidneys. Never saw it coming and it left me on the floor, unable to properly react.
This is Matt freakin Harvey we’re talking about and people were suggesting trading him straight up for a shortstop and my only reaction was, “Eh, the Red Sox need to kick in something else.” At least Harvey had the promise of nine-figure contracts dancing in his head to cloud his judgment, something the rest of us didn’t have.
Yes, Harvey didn’t handle this right and it’s fine for us fans to be disappointed in that. He shouldn’t have let his agent make the announcement that he did, and just as importantly, at the time that he did. Yes, Harvey’s follow-up press conference did nothing to make things better. But since then, Harvey has been saying the right things, and more importantly, doing the right things.
Saturday, Harvey threw 97 pitches and was on the mound way past the time that a guy coming off surgery and only worried about a future contract would be. As cold-hearted realists, we can wonder about the wisdom of that decision. As Harvey fans, we should be overjoyed that our alpha is out there letting his actions take center stage.
It was not a dominating performance, as he went 6.2 IP and allowed 2 ER. But given that his teammates staked him to a five-run lead early, it was more than enough. Harvey wasn’t looking over his shoulder once the fourth inning rolled around and his agent wasn’t releasing stories to his favorite media person after the game, either.
For a couple of weeks, we’ve been worried about how Harvey would be in the playoffs. Would he even pitch? Would he only throw four innings and then be removed? Now it seems those worries are out the window. The Mets clinching this early allows them to manipulate their rotation the rest of the way so that when Game 1 of the NLDS rolls around, Harvey will be on the mound. And if he threw 97 pitches yesterday, there’s no way on earth he’s coming out early in a playoff game.
Bring on the Dodgers and who cares if they throw Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke at us — they have to go against Harvey and Jacob deGrom. And unlike the Dodgers, the Mets’ pitching doesn’t fall off a cliff after those two. And if push comes to shove, the Mets will have Harvey on the mound for Game 5 if it comes to that.
And all Mets fans should be comforted with that knowledge.