By Ernie Palladino
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“Happy Harvey Days” went out the window with his Tommy John and Thoracic Syndrome surgeries. But it took an alleged night of clubbing, a morning round of golf, and a no-show Saturday due to a migraine to really knock the hard-throwing right-hander off the pedestal he stood upon since he came up as a 23-year-old rookie in 2012.
As much as New Yorkers will forgive star athletes for their sins, they can hold a heck of a grudge for the unrepentant. Considering Matt Harvey has drawn plenty of forgiveness already for venial sins like the mess he and agent Scott Boras created in 2015 over playoff innings, his hubris in talking his way back into the ninth inning of World Series Game 5, and a generally overbearing attitude in the clubhouse, it’s the mortal sin of bugging out on his teammates that fans may never forget.
He may have to win 20 games to win back the fans who put him on the level of Batman. Barring that, Harvey appears headed for the same barrel some other New York sports figures dove into in their own falls from their publics’ grace.
If nothing else, he’ll be in good company when he runs off someplace more dimly lit than New York once he becomes a free agent two years from now. Here’s a look at a few other heroes who, by their own hands, took the big fall.
The former Mariners and Rangers shortstop could have owned New York when he came over from Texas in 2004, especially when he moved to third so good friend Derek Jeter could stay put at short. Winning MVP awards in 2005 and 2007 made the story all the sweeter.
But then the rumors about the steroids started, and the lies soon followed. Fans aren’t dumb, and the calls to get rid of the A-Rod problem began. He just kept on lying. Then came the suspension in 2014 as he got wrapped up in the Biogenesis scandal. More lies, more denials. A threat of legal action. Finally, an admission.
A good comeback in 2015 rose him somewhat in the public’s esteem, but few shed a tear when A-Rod stepped aside at the end of an unproductive 2016, after he made sure he’d get the $21 million his contract called for in 2017.
How could anyone not love the 5-foot-10, 200-pound tailback who slashed and dashed his way to almost every Giants rushing record?
You’d be surprised. Once he embarked on a TV career, Barber became one of Tom Coughlin’s and Eli Manning’s harshest critics, a move that turned off the public in a major way. Throw in a tawdry divorce from his college sweetheart as she carried his twins, and the circle of hate was complete.
Well, not entirely. The uncrowning moment came Oct. 3, 2010, when a packed MetLife Stadium rained boos upon their former icon during his Ring of Honor induction ceremony.
If only he’d have kept his mouth shut, those boos surely would have been cheers.
The former Red Sox arch-enemy turned into a hero for his hard-throwing, aggressive pitching that won him a Cy Young Award in 2001 and helped get the Yanks to three World Series. But his name wound up in the Mitchell Report, along with friend and teammate Andy Pettitte’s. Clemens continues to claim it was all a setup, even after Pettitte testified against him in Clemens’ defamation suit against trainer Brian McNamee.
Clemens denies any PED usage to this day, even in the face of mounting evidence. Oddly, Pettitte suffered none of the backlash after admitting he used the banned HGH. Just shows that a little truth goes a long way with the public.
He was a popular Knick as a player. He has more championship trophies than Home Depot has hammers as a coach. Jim Dolan brought him and his triangle offense in as president to fix the Knicks. Once anticipated as a conquering hero, he’s turned Madison Square Garden into a mess instead.
On top of shoving the triangle down the throats of coaches who don’t believe in it, he has taken to a hermit’s non-communicative life with the press and fans alike. New York doesn’t like that. The fans don’t care for a tweet-happy executive who makes like a Central Park pigeon on their top scorer’s head, either.
There’s no denying the entertainment value Ryan brought when Jets owner Woody Johnson hired him in 2009. Loud and brash and funny, Ryan promised New York a Super Bowl. People believed him. And he did get the Jets to two AFC championship games his first two years here. But the act wore thin when Mark Sanchez and the offense dove straight downhill.
Nary a tear was shed when Ryan was fired after a 4-12 season in 2014. He landed in god-forsaken Buffalo in 2015 and promised those folks a Super Bowl, too.
The reaction down here? Same old Rex.
Same fate, too. He got fired after last season.
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