Over the span of the last week or so, Coronavirus has swept through just about every website, app, newspaper and any other method of media that you consume, at times, overpopulating the news cycle. Feel good stories are instead being swapped for infection stories, and sports have begun to limit the number of fans that pack stadiums. So, with all of this happening, there should be no better time to bring up memories, whether good or bad, of Matt Harvey. Just to take our minds off of something Corona-related, and to think about how the Dark Knight may rise again in 2020.
It has now been nearly a decade since the phenom broke into the majors and swept the city of New York off of its feet with the promise of power pitching and good things to come. After all, things were bleak for the Mets in 2012, finishing fourth in the NL East with a 74-88 record. Everyone knows the narrative that Harvey represented the light at the end of the tunnel, and further punctuated that by earning the starting rubber at the 2013 All-Star game, which was held at Citi Field. We could go on and on about how the injuries sustained by Harvey derailed his tenure with the Mets, as Thoracic Outlet syndrome and Tommy John Surgery slowed the hurler’s ability to whiff batters. It wasn’t the injuries that bittered the Mets to Harvey, as they have long endured players with repeated injuries.
It was the constant subconscious fear that Harvey would one day, in his, prime, jump ship and take the subway to join the Yankees. After all, the Connecticut native had grown up rooting for the team in his youth. He also had the widely controversial agent Scott Boras representing him, which typically spells bad news for the Mets. Harvey did not help the ease the fears of Mets fans either by staying out late to party, saying that he’d have a pitch limit, and by letting his quality of play slip over the coming seasons. The bloody ending turned out to be a trade to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for Devin Mesoraco.
Why has Harvey restated himself into my consciousness? A few reasons besides the one stated at the onset. Harvey, who has been AWOL since his failed stint with the Angels, may very well be receiving a call from those same Yankees that he rooted for as a kid. The Yankees have oddly enough had more of a Mets Spring Training than the Mets have, suffering injuries to a multitude of their key players, including their rotation. James Paxton and Luis Severino are injured, and Domingo German is suspended for domestic abuse. The Yankees are desperate for help, and Harvey is equally as desperate to prove himself again.
This also makes me think of two very different ascensions to stardom for the Mets. Harvey became the villain very quickly after souring his relationship with the fans. A polar opposite of that is Pete Alonso, who was handed a raise by Brodie Van Wagenen coming off of a rookie campaign that launched him into superstardom at a comparable rate to well, Harvey. After winning NL Rookie of the Year and taking home the home run crown with 53 dingers, it is safe to say that Alonso earned his $652,521 for the upcoming season.
Upon earning the new contract, Alonso told reporters that he was “Shocked and thrilled.”
It isn’t two often that those two words happen in succession when ballplayers are talking about their contract status. This should bode well for bode well for Van Wagenen, who seems to have studied the Harvey situation from afar. Alonso’s star power is so strong that he is on a team with the best pitcher in baseball, yet he is still the most popular player on the team. This is a situation that Van Wagenen knows he can’t mess up, and can’t let turn into another Harvey blunder. The media swarm around Harvey was supremely negative, while so far for Alonso, the New York media scene has been as close as it can be to a cake walk. Van Wagenen is doing everything in his power to keep it that way.
You can’t expect Harvey to ever come back to his old form, when he was the most intimidating pitcher on the mound. It would still be nice to see him come back, even be it so with the most hated of rivals. That would be some good news to break up the current hysteria.