‘Harvey’s Rules’ are leading the Mets down a very dark path…
There’s no I in team.
Except on Harvey Day, of course.
On Sunday, Matt Harvey was brilliant for five innings, throwing 77 pitches while allowing only one hit with seven strikeouts.
But that’s the problem. It was only for five innings. Terry Collins announced in the middle of the game Harvey would only pitch five innings and was coming out regardless of how well he pitched.
It was known Harvey was pitching on an innings limit on Sunday. Collins had said in the days preceding this start Harvey would not pitch deep into his start, instead relying on the bullpen for an extended outing.
And in what was a fitting conclusion to the mess which has been made of this situation with Harvey, the bullpen went ahead and allowed 11 runs – seven earned – in four innings of relief.
That along with a complete meltdown defensively in the sixth inning capped an evening ending with more questions than answers about precisely who is in charge in the employee/employer relationship.
“A perfect storm,” Collins explained. “Pitching great, and to boot he gets an at-bat with a man in scoring position the inning before he’s done. You knew it would happen like that.
“It couldn’t have been set it up any worse than how it was,” Collins concluded.
Who would have ever thought a lights out performance by Matt Harvey could be so bad for the team?
Of course, it was bad because he wasn’t allowed to stay in the game, instead handing the game to the bullpen prematurely after which disaster ensued.
And it couldn’t have been anymore fitting for the Mets on Sunday in what has turned into an unnecessary late-season fiasco as they push towards the playoffs.
Or try to without their best pitcher when they need him, anyway.
The sad thing is, Collins and the rest of the coaching staff are merely following marching orders. This isn’t what Collins in particular wants, for sure. He wants to win – he’s managing for his next contract, to get to the playoffs for the first time in his long career, and he’s been forcibly handicapped in a situation he will undoubtedly be rated for.
But it’s a situation he’s certain to fail at. Anyone would fail having to deal with this.
Admirably though, Collins is doing his best to adapt and follow his orders, even when it’s clear this is not how he wants to manage.
“It’s very hard for me to manage this. It’s hard for me to get it, because I am, at heart, the old-school guy,” Collins explained. “But I understand where it’s coming from. Therefore you adjust.”
It’s hard to blame Collins at all. His hesitance and frustration could be heard in the microphone before he even removed Harvey after the fifth inning.
But Harvey, who in Miami would not even commit beyond his start against the Nationals, who’s agent went public with what almost felt like a warning of sorts about not breaching the 180-inning limit with his client, seemed disappointed to have come out of Sunday’s game after only five innings.
“Especially in a close game like that,” Harvey said at his locker late Sunday. “the last thing I wanted to do was come out.”
Harvey insisted he wants to be pitching on a regular basis
“More than anything, I want to be out there,” Harvey said. “I want to be out there more than anything. I know where I want to be, and that’s on a mound, pitching for the Mets.”
Harvey was asked whether or not these kinds of limits would be imposed in a playoff game next month.
“I think the situation would be a lot different,” Harvey said. “The last thing I want to do is not play, not pitch, especially if we’re in the postseason. … I just want to be out there.”
Collins didn’t offer exactly the same answer, however.
“As I sit here today, I’m pretty sure it won’t happen [that way],” Collins explained about Harvey in the playoffs. “Will it happen? I can’t answer that. That’s too far down the line.”
But Collins knows he needs Harvey, both now and in October.
“I don’t give a s–t who’s sitting in this chair, Matt Harvey is a you guy you turn to.” Terry Collins emphatically said after the game.
The problem is simple. This is a 24-plus-1 situation the Mets are being forced to deal with. The game plan was centered around one person and one person alone on Sunday night, much like their attempt to go to a six-man rotation at times early in the season only to have Harvey publicly and privately complain about it.
But if there’s one sobering reality about baseball and it’s teams is there is no I in the team. The moment it becomes about one player, the rest of the team inevitably suffers. A game plan surrounding one player will inevitably lead the club down the path of certain doom. It has never worked before, it won’t work now or tomorrow either.
Just ask the Yankees about that.
The Mets have to make a choice. Either Harvey is a part of this or not. If he is, he must be treated like any other player, and he adheres to their rules, not the other way around.
If he can’t be treated like any other player, he needs to be shutdown until he can be treated like any other player. It’s not fair to the people he shares the same office space with, it’s not fair to the manager and the coaches and it’s not fair to the rest of the pitching staff who has to take on the burden in these games.
See what happened on Sunday night on the national stage as the prime example of this problem.
Now, were the errors and the bullpen melting down Matt Harvey’s fault? Not at all. Was the inexplicable display of ineptitude on the part of the bats? No and that hasn’t been all year.
But the bullpen and defense in particular were put in a situation to fail because of rules not even dictated by the team for one player. Rather, rules put in place by the player and his agent himself.
But the team isn’t off the hook either.
Sandy Alderson has said publicly the club will not be dictated by a player and his agent.
Isn’t that what’s happening, though?
That is where the club is at fault.
The irony of all of this is Harvey wants to be out there, or so he says. This after all the stunts he and his agent pulled, after amassing 36 2/3 innings since August 11, and after claiming he hired his agent and Doctor for a reason, and after not committing beyond his start in Washington.
Hers how it works.
That’s proven when he is pitching every five days and staying out there based on, “Harvey Rules.”
Not, “Harvey’s rules.”
That is up to only one person. And it’s not Terry Collins, Sandy Alderson, Dan Warthen or even Scott Boras.