Breaking News! New York Mets Part Ways with One-Time Ace Matt Harvey
Once upon a time, Mets right-hander Matt Harvey had arguably the best stuff in baseball: Four great pitches, including a fastball that he could often throw consistently at 97-99 mph, with great control of each; and a 90 mile-an-hour slider; the judgment to know when to throw each; and pinpoint control.
That seems like a long time ago. In Harvey’s first full season, 2013, although he only went 9-5, with a lot of no-decisions, he was so sensational, that he got to start the All-Star Game, where he also shone, in two scoreless innings.
But Harvey came back strong, after a year out due to T.J., and won the NL Comeback Player for the4 year Award in 2015, after going 13-8, 2.71, but then he got hit by a weird injury I’d never heard of, which required “thoracic outlet surgery.”
Since 2015, Harvey has gone 9-19, and just under 6.00.
Along the way, Harvey developed a self-pitying look when he was getting shellacked that I’m tempted to call “hang-dog,” except that it would be unfair to dogs.
He also developed a lousy attitude in other matters. His once muscular, 6’4,” 225 lb. build ballooned to a fatso 270 or so. And he had a whimsical approach to following team rules. When he was the anchor of the rotation, he would sometimes blow off attending team meetings, and the team covered for him. But when did the same thing last year, the team benched him, and reported his priors to the media.
Recently, new Mets skipper Mickey Callaway exiled Harvey to the bullpen. However, after initial success yesterday, in a long relief stint—two scoreless innings—Harvey gave up three earned runs in his third inning of work. Another bust.
The Mets brass then asked Harvey, if he would accept a demotion to the minors, to try and find himself again. Thanks to the union contract, management has to ask a veteran player “pretty please” in such situations.
Harvey said, “No.” That left the team with only the nuclear option: Ten days, in which to trade Harvey, or give him his unconditional release.
Longtime baseball fans have seen this sort of thing before—the young pitcher with Hall of Fame stuff, but a “heart condition.”
During the early 1990s, the pitcher on the Atlanta Braves pitching staff universally considered to have the best stuff was name Steve Avery. Steve who? That’s right, now he’s the answer to a trivia question.
That same starting rotation had three guys with “inferior” stuff to Avery. You may have heard of them: Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz. They’re all in Cooperstown.
A little bit later, the Mets had a crop of young pitchers they hyped as “Generation K.” Bill Pulsipher, Jason Isringhausen, and the young gun with the best stuff of all, Paul Wilson. Paul who? Another answer to a trivia question. Wilson went 40-58 in parts of seven seasons as a starter.
The two other members of the Generation K triumvirate were Bill Pulsipher and Jason Isringhausen.
Pulsipher lost his mind, getting addicted to anti-depressants, and never had a winning season, going 13-19 and 5.06 in parts of six injury-plagued seasons.
Isringhausen, who was also a flake, was the only member of the three young guns ultimately to put together have a solid career, albeit elsewhere, and as a closer, finishing with 300 saves.
Character counts. All the talent in the world won’t lead to one achieving excellence, without the requisite will.
I just hope that Harvey doesn’t suddenly develop some character elsewhere, and come back to plague us!
Award-winning, New York-based freelancer Nicholas Stix founded A Different Drummer magazine (1989-93). Stix has written for Die Suedwest Presse, New York Daily News, New York Post, Newsday, Middle American News, Toogood Reports, Insight, Chronicles, the American Enterprise, Campus Reports, VDARE, the Weekly Standard, Front Page Magazine, Ideas on Liberty, National Review Online and the Illinois Leader. His column also appears at Men's News Daily, MichNews, Intellectual Conservative, Enter Stage Right and OpinioNet. Stix has studied at colleges and universities on two continents, and earned a couple of sheepskins, but he asks that the reader not hold that against him. His day jobs have included washing pots, building Daimler-Benzes on the assembly-line, tackling shoplifters and teaching college, but his favorite job was changing his son's diapers.