N.Y.'s Young Stars Just Need To Keep A Little Perspective

By Ernie Palladino
» More Ernie Palladino Columns

Victor Cruz wishes he had a few more bucks, and Matt Harvey wishes he had a few more girls and a little more fashion sense.

You’ve just got to love the young athletic talent around here. Confident, productive, immensely skilled.

Heads in the right places? Well, not all the time, but they’re not so distracted that it’s going to hurt their performances. In fact, Cruz and Harvey may just find some extra motivation from their recent public statements.

Cruz had some fans scratching their heads a week after he signed his five-year, $43 million extension that included $15.6 million of guaranteed money when he called the decision to give the Giants a hometown discount “tough.” Most of us working stiffs would trade the appendage of one’s choice for a headache like that. But there was Cruz, on SiriusXM Radio, saying he felt undervalued as he gazed around the league and saw players less productive than himself signing for significantly bigger dollars.

Then there’s Harvey, already having landed Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Anne V as arm candy, telling Men’s Journal that he aims to emulate Derek Jeter’s serial celebrity dating mode and Henrik Lundqvist’s fashion style.

While it might seem to us like these guys should have better things to think about, like taking the next step in their careers, let’s remember that these are two young, unattached players. There’s nothing wrong with wanting nice things, be they inanimate objects like dollar bills and multi-million-dollar apartments, or the blonde, two-legged kind. Right now, Cruz and Harvey are just two red-blooded American males excelling on the field and having a good time off it.

The only danger here is in letting their extra-curricular goals overshadow the job at hand. They need to keep a little perspective here. They need to realize the worldly riches of their stardom come over time and continued success.

In other words, it’s great what Cruz and Harvey are doing now, and both have reaped immediate benefits. But to have it all, or at least most of it, they need to do the same thing over a longer time period. Harvey, of course, is floating sky-high on one of the baseball’s most dominant pitching performances of 2013 and three strikeouts in two innings of an All-Star game start. Cruz came off his second straight 1,000-yard reception season and should remain one of the NFL’s most exciting receivers.

There is no reason to think that Harvey and Cruz won’t continue their upward trend. Cruz just has to remember that top-10 paydays — his 18th-ranked contract still isn’t chickenfeed — come with sustained health and success. And Harvey needs to remember that Jeter hasn’t attracted every pretty young thing because he had the equivalent of one good season. Long-term success attracts many things besides oodles of money, including high-profile companionship and that Central Park West penthouse.

So when Harvey told Men’s Journal that “I’m young, I’m single, I want to be in the mix,” when talking about his 10th floor, East Village apartment that overlooks the Financial District, he could have been speaking for Cruz, too. They’re both there, in the mix, right now. The challenge is staying in it, and even rising to the top of that heady financial, social, and tonsorial batter.

As long as Cruz and Harvey regard those things as goals and not givens, they’ll be fine.

For now, they’re just a couple of young stars thinking huge.

Nothing wrong with that as long as they keep their eyes on what’s directly in front of them.

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