By Jason Keidel
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It doesn’t take Mr. Met to see he’s special.
Sunday’s marquee at Citi Field flashed two marquee pitchers: Cliff Lee and Matt Harvey. But it was Harvey who came away looking like like the 10-year veteran who has his mail forwarded to the strike zone, putting his savant’s spin on his electric, three-pitch quiver.
Seven innings, three hits, 10 strikeouts, zero walks. Harvey is so mundanely dominant that this has become his template stat line. But considering the dearth of decent pitching during the steroid era, which still isn’t over, Harvey is quickly becoming New York’s next icon.
For the sake of history and mystery and midsummer romance, New Yorkers need to curb their inherent hatred for the team across the river. In this case, this Yankees fan is imploring fellow Yankees fans to bow to the brilliance of Harvey.
Despite the Yankees’ 20-year reign over the the five boroughs and beyond, they haven’t — or just can’t — conjure this kind of talent from their allegedly fertile farm system. The “Killer B” busts are already drained from memory. Andy Pettitte is the last legend the Bombers have summoned from the minors.
Meanwhile, the Mets, who have been historically inept since their ’80s empire that should have bagged way more than one ring, have a penchant for pitching that eludes their big brothers in the Bronx. Dwight Gooden tragically traded his fastball for speedballs, but he pitched long enough to leave his named etched into legend.
Tom Seaver spoke for himself. And now we have Harvey, who seems a direct descendent in talent and temerity. New York’s moody, almost bipolar fan base, ever ready to pummel or parade a player based on one game, is sold on Harvey. And we should be.
Once Derek Jeter retires — his suddenly balky body is hastening the process — and assuming Mariano Rivera makes good on his curtain call, Harvey will have Broadway to himself. No matter your New York baseball allegiance, Gotham is in good hands.
Considering Hank and Hal Steinbrenner’s newfound frugality, scrambling to duck under the $189 million salary-cap firewall, with A-Rod’s contract a corporate anvil around the Yankees’ neck, it feels like there finally could be a swap in the crosstown pecking order. For the record, both teams are in fourth place, even if the Yankees have a better record (52-46).
The Mets have myriad salaries coming off the books soon, with one ace in the hole and perhaps another (Zack Wheeler) in the deck. The Yankees’ ace, CC Sabathia, is 9-8 with a 4.37 ERA, a full two runs worse than Harvey. With each week, Sabathia is not living but rather looking large, aging and ineffective. Hiroki Kuroda, their implicit No. 1, is too close to 40 to warrant a long-term commitment. And Pettitte’s next start could always be his last.
But not Harvey, 24, who will only get better. The only concern with this buck in rut is that his antlers might rub against too many ladies and late nights. But his personality and desire to have fun is fine as long as he’s equally voracious on the mound. So far, so good. Which is more than we can say for the pitching prospects in pinstripes.
The Mets (43-51) are still 10 games behind the Braves and equidistant from the Wild Card leader, despite their surprising surge over the last 30 games. But for the first time in a long time, you could reasonably assert that the Mets could be better than the Yankees in three years.
Harvey is their first regal pitcher in decades. Is he the first of four Kings in Queens?
Age and wage could force the Yankees to surrender the throne, where pitching will soon be flush in Flushing.
Before we know it, the Mets could be ready to party like it’s 1985.
Feel free to email me at Jakster0529@gmail.com.
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