Because it’s Matt Harvey, everything that’s less than super heroic has become unacceptable
Matt Harvey’s turbulent season took another odd turn on Tuesday afternoon when the Mets co-ace failed to arrive on-time to a mandatory team workout at Citi Field ahead of their trip to Los Angeles.
At first, it was believed Harvey was stuck in traffic, but Harvey showed up moments after the workout concluded on Tuesday, some two hours later.
“Obviously today was not the greatest. The last thing I ever want to do is not be with my team. There’s no excuse. I screwed up. I just truly screwed up.” he said in a brief statement on Tuesday.
Asked about Harvey’s absence, Mets captain David Wright said, “you’ll have to talk to Matt. I am concerned about the guys who are here. The guys who are here had a great workout.”
Based on the expressions and tone Wright had when responding to the question, he was obviously peeved by Harvey’s absence.
It’s understandable – Harvey was the only player absent from the workout.
Terry Collins was less concerned about the reason why Harvey was a no-show, and more about the fact he simply was a no-show to a team event.
“Why he wasn’t here, I don’t care,” Collins said on Wednesday. “The only thing I care about was he wasn’t here.”
Former big league manager Dusty Baker offered some advice for Collins in how to attempt to handle Harvey’s behavior.
“As a manager, you have to handle it right away. It has to be known from the get go,” Baker explained. “My number one rule was don’t be late to work. If you are going to be late, you call me, and make sure it wasn’t going to be a couple of times [within] a period of time. You have to handle it now while he is young, because what is going to happen later on? Also, his other teammates are looking at you on how you are going to handle it because you have to keep respect with the other teammates.”
Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson certainly accepted the situation and feels the club has moved past what ultimately was a minor in-house incident.
“We’re human. We’re going to sleep through a clock,” Granderson explained. “We’re going to misread a time. A battery’s going to die. Especially since we rely on technology so much. This is going to continue to happen. We’re human.”
The problem, of course, is it’s Matt Harvey, and Matt Harvey hasn’t had an easy time of it when it comes to public perception over the last couple of years.
But in fairness, if this was most any other Met, the incident would have been brushed aside, the player would have been fined – just like Harvey was for his absence – and life would have gone on peacefully.
Imagine if Sean Gilmartin or Carlos Torres had shown up late? Would anyone have even noticed?
But it’s Matt Harvey.
And the first thing people did – this author included – is look for Matt Harvey on Tuesday.
He wasn’t there.
Between his exposes in the New York Post, and his appearance at a Yankee game to honor Derek Jeter in 2014 while the Mets were playing a game on the road, to his engagement on Instagram and Twitter, and most recently his non-commital to pitch in the playoffs in early September and finally showing up late to a postseason workout at Citi Field, his antics haven’t exactly been widely accepted in general.
Because it’s Matt Harvey.
“Everybody messes up and I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt, but some of those veterans will pull him aside,” Pedro Martinez said in a conference call on Wednesday. “David Wright, I know will pull him aside and say, ‘Are you in or are you out?’ This is the perfect time, before they get to the playoffs to hold the leash and guide him.”
He’s a good kid, a better one than what people perceive him to be. It’s pretty clear how great of a teammate he is, just by what can be seen in the dugout during games. He’s one of their loudest cheerleaders, he’s always among the first to greet players at the top step of the dugout after a big play.
But, he’s Matt Harvey.
A great pitcher lost in the bewilderment of New York and playing for a team who is banking on not only his health, but the high standards he has set because of his early greatness.
He’s not perceived as a human being because of that greatness either, even though he very much is. He’s an emotional, passionate individual who is stubborn in what he wants and needs, and like all of us, is a flawed being.
Has anyone ever not been late for work? It happens, whether people admit it or not and the reason is foolish or not.
But it’s Matt Harvey, and he’s not allowed to be anything less than a great superhero.
Instead, he’s being painted as the next Alex Rodriguez, a 24+1 player who has put his own agenda ahead of his team.
And it’s not entirely fair to him either. Ultimately time will tell if that’s the case.
That doesn’t excuse a lot of the things which have happened, but he’s still a human being who messes up, and both says and does dumb things.
Even Batman messed up at times. After all, if he hadn’t there wouldn’t have been any of those cliffhangers in the original TV series.
This isn’t the first time, and it won’t be the last time. As long as he pitches well, stays out of trouble and can at least be accounted for when he does mess up, that ultimately becomes the most important thing.
To hear Dusty Baker, Casey Stern, and former Mets Gary Sheffield and Pedro Martinez discuss Matt Harvey, watch this video: