By Brad Kallet
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I had no intention of writing about Matt Harvey on Sunday night. My hope, when the day began, was that I’d be writing about a Mets team that, after a brutal start and another round of injuries, had gutted out a sweep of the Marlins, fought its way back to .500 and potentially saved its season.
But no. I’m forced to write about this guy. Again.
I woke up to some fun news Sunday, as I’m sure most of you did. Not only was ace Noah Syndergaard placed on the 60-day disabled list — not a surprise — but Harvey was suspended three games by the organization, without pay, for violating team rules.
The team did not specify what Harvey did to earn his suspension, but, according to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, he did not attend New York’s 11-3 win over the Marlins on Saturday night at Citi Field. The New York Daily News reported that while his absence was a factor in the team’s decision, “the suspension stems from a compilation of issues dating back to last year.”
Jon Heyman of WFAN and FanRag Sports additionally reported that Harvey played golf Saturday morning prior to the game. From the right-hander’s point of view, he reportedly had a headache when he returned home from his round and notified the team of his discomfort. To put the icing on this miserable cake, Heyman reports that Harvey will likely file a grievance against the organization that pays him $5.125 million a year to pitch like a No. 3 starter and behave like an entitled, 19-year-old frat boy.
I have to mention this, before I really get into it: Only the Mets and Harvey know what truly happened this past weekend, so perhaps Harvey had a legitimate issue, informed the Mets in an appropriate time frame, and the organization overreacted and penalized him unfairly. There is, of course, a chance that this happened.
But I don’t think it did. For all of the countless antics and immature decisions Harvey has made since debuting with New York in 2012, he’s completely lost the benefit of the doubt. At this point, taking his past transgressions into consideration, he’s guilty until proven innocent.
Harvey let his teammates, his manager, his organization and his fans down with his nonsense this past weekend. The Mets, whose April couldn’t have gone much worse, had taken four of five this past week with backups of backups leading the way. Looking for an encouraging sweep of the Marlins with Harvey on the mound, manager Terry Collins was forced to sit his former ace in favor of Adam Wilk, a journeyman who hadn’t pitched in a major league game since April 2015. Wilk predictably got shelled, allowing six runs in 3 2/3 innings.
New York ended up losing, 7-0, and mustered just one hit on the day. In the five games prior to Sunday’s matinee, the Mets exploded for 51 runs. Think that their lifeless effort wasn’t connected to the Harvey drama that was permeating throughout the clubhouse? It was surely no coincidence.
Once upon a time, Harvey was branded a bulldog, a fighter who would take the ball at any time, under any circumstance, and find a way to win. Sunday was the complete opposite: When the Mets needed him most — especially with Syndergaard and Yoenis Cespedes out, among others — the Mets felt the need to teach him a lesson. Where did his fire, his passion, his dedication go?
Back in 2015, the idea of Harvey not readying himself for a start, or jeopardizing it in any way, was unthinkable. Six years into his career, it’s hardly surprising.
If this were a one-time lapse of judgment, it could be forgiven. But this is hardly the first time Harvey has created a soap opera in the clubhouse. We also can’t use his age as an excuse anymore. Harvey is 28: At this point in his career, he should be a veteran presence in the locker room, a leader of a team he helped build into a contender. Instead, Collins and general manager Sandy Alderson are still dealing with his inexcusable misconduct on a semiregular basis.
Imagine what captain David Wright is thinking right now? I’m sure he spoke with Harvey on Sunday, but would you blame him if he decided to pass on a call? If Harvey doesn’t get it yet, odds are that he’s never going to.
And then, on top of his utter foolishness, Harvey has the gall to file a grievance against the organization that has coddled him, treated him with kid gloves and made him into a star. (He hadn’t done so at press time, but was reportedly considering it strongly.) How selfish. Harvey, of course, has every right to do this, but why would he? For the three days’ pay that he’ll miss so dearly? To clear his name, which is disgraced either way? All Harvey is doing now is bringing added, unnecessary attention to the Mets and his teammates. It’s an extremely disrespectful move, especially considering he’s expected to start again as soon as this week.
On Twitter, former Mets pitcher and analyst Bobby Ojeda said the franchise’s relationship with Harvey “has become so toxic.” At one point in time, this thought would have been a frightening one. Not so much anymore. Considering the fact that Harvey doesn’t appear to be particularly good anymore — he’s 2-2 with a 5.14 ERA over six starts — the thought of Harvey bolting in free agency isn’t keeping anyone up at night. His best days are more than likely behind him: Fireballers don’t get better as they get older; they get worse, and he’s beginning to look the part.
In “The Bronx Tale,” Robert De Niro’s chracter famously said that “the saddest thing in life is wasted talent.”
Throughout Harvey’s career, we’ve slowly and painfully watched him waste his talent away. It’s just not that sad anymore.
Brad Kallet is the managing editor of TENNIS.com and a frequent contributor to WFAN.com. Follow him on Twitter @brad_kallet