Matt Harvey saved his best day – and best judgment – for when it mattered most
Perhaps there is an I in team after all.
On Saturday, Matt Harvey saved his best day – and perhaps his wisest day – for the most important day the Mets have had in nine years.
The Mets ace was assigned with hand delivering the promise he made in Spring Training to the team that drafted him to an organization and fan base starving for success after nine years of misery and awkwardness: a National League Eastern Division Championship.
And just like the bulldog he has been billed to be since the moment he was drafted, Harvey did just that.
But he did so with the leash he and his agent put around his neck off, going 6 2/3 innings to do whatever he could to deliver on that promise.
“I need to get ready,” manager Terry Collins said Harvey told him earlier this week. “We’re going to win this thing and I got to be ready for the playoffs.”
And to get ready, Harvey decided to put the team before a theory, and win on what he described as the best day in his career to date.
“This is the best day of my baseball career by far,” Harvey proclaimed in the clubhouse after the game.. “We’re here to stay, we’re here to do this more often. That’s what we’re about. Today couldn’t have played out any better. I couldn’t be more excited for us, for our team and where we’re going.”
‘Us’ and ‘we.’ The two words which seemed to be absent in all of the innings limit talk.
But they’re back, and he showed on Saturday afternoon in Cincinnati they are the most important thing to him right now.
And Harvey delivered, bringing glory to Gotham in the process.
“We saw the real Matt Harvey today,” Collins said.
It wasn’t the greatest of Harvey Day’s on the mound, presumably because he hasn’t pitched very much over the last month.
He obviously he knows that, and he knows its important he shake off that rust for when each pitch has five times the meaning of any other pitch he’s thrown in his career.
But it was good enough to help the Mets coast against the Reds and win their sixth division title since their inception in 1962.
“We’re on our way to October, I’m going to be there and I’m going to be fighting every time I get the ball,” he said.
Throughout this month-long ordeal with Harvey, his agent, and all of this innings noise, he’s shown that while he can be the Mets superhero – as he truly wants to be – he is flawed, just like everyone else. Clearly, he spoke to some people – including his agent – became fearful of what he heard if he in fact breached whatever innings number he was given, received some bad advice from one or more people, and executed in a worse way.
But it’s that fear which led to his own concerns that what he has – and it is indeed an incredible gift of a right arm to go along with other intangibles – would be taken away.
And just like anyone else in this world, when people fear something they value will be lost, they’re willing to do whatever it takes to prevent that from happening, even if it leads to poor behavior and poor judgment.
And while it’s unclear if Saturday’s performance forgives all, it certainly provides proof about what everyone has said going back well beyond the last month.
Harvey is an incredible competitor with the eye and the talent of a champion.
On this Harvey Day, he kicked all of that advice to the curb – for a day anyway – and made the best possible decision for the team.
And potentially himself as well.