Har­vey’s exit:

The Dark Knight finds ca­reer in dark­ness as the Mets re­gret­fully cut ties with a for­mer phe­nom.

USA TODAY Sports Weekly - - INSIDE - The (Ber­gen County, N.J.) Record USA TO­DAY Net­work Steve Pop­per

It was a mo­ment that could have been one for the ages. Maybe even as it was hap­pen­ing, Matt Har­vey could see the fu­ture, the celebrity, the place in his­tory.

Har­vey marched into the dugout on Nov. 1, 2015, hav­ing fin­ished off the eighth in­ning of Game 5 of the World Se­ries by set­ting the Roy­als down in or­der, and he wasn’t wrong to be­lieve that he was the best pitcher on the planet at that mo­ment. He had kept the Mets alive with eight score­less in­nings and with a tworun lead, as New York went meekly in the bot­tom of the in­ning, he wanted the ball.

He ar­gued openly with then-man­ager Terry Collins and pitch­ing coach Dan Warthen. He got the ball and all he had to do was fin­ish it. Fin­ish the game and he is a folk hero, the one who wanted the ball and would cre­ate the last­ing im­age. He would be Tom Seaver. Num­bers would be re­tired. The story would be told like Tommy Agee’s catches or Mookie Wil­son rolling a grounder be­tween the legs of Bill Buck­ner.

But he didn’t. He fell apart in the ninth. The Mets lost the game and the World Se­ries. In­juries fol­lowed. Off the field he ran a nightlife that found him on Page Six more than the sports pages. The arm and con­fi­dence that were so dom­i­nant on that night in 2015 aban­doned him.

It all came to an end late last week, all the dreams gone. The Mets reached the end of the line, un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously putting his ca­reer with the team in the past, try­ing to send him to the mi­nors first and when he re­fused an­nounc­ing that he would be des­ig­nated for as­sign­ment, headed to waivers. It is the end of his Mets ca­reer and maybe the end of his ca­reer.

“Matt has been a cor­ner­stone of cer­tainly my ten­ure here,” gen­eral man­ager Sandy Alder­son said. “Tremen­dous prospect at the time when I ar­rived. Tremen­dous ac­com­plish­ments dur­ing the course of my ten­ure here. Very un­for­tu­nate dif­fi­cult con­clu­sion not re­ally of his mak­ing.

“This is some­body that’s gone through two se­ri­ous and ca­reer-threat­en­ing in­juries with very lengthy re­ha­bil­i­ta­tions and made ev­ery ef­fort to re­turn to the cham­pi­onship form that he ex­hib­ited so of­ten over the years. Ob­vi­ously there were chal­lenges along the way for him and for us. But those chal­lenges were al­ways worth meet­ing. Not just be­cause of his abil­ity, for me at least, and I think many oth­ers. Matt is an ap­peal­ing, lik­able, vul­ner­a­ble in­di­vid­ual. ... He was ap­pre­ci­ated for what he brought to the New York Mets.”

What ex­actly did he bring other than dis­ap­point­ment? He was bound for great­ness it seemed as he made his way through the or­ga­ni­za­tion. A first-round draft pick of the prior regime, Har­vey was the prize of the sys­tem and it paid off as he be­came the starter in the 2013 All­Star Game at Citi Field. The Yan­kees had Derek Jeter, and Har­vey was the celebrity for the Mets.

He had that part down, the celebrity, a reg­u­lar at night­clubs and on the arm of mod­els, all openly flaunted. But the arm that brought him there failed him. Tommy John surgery was fol­lowed by an­other surgery, more se­ri­ous this time, to re­pair tho­racic out­let syn­drome (TOS). While Tommy John surgery has be­come a com­mon step in a pitcher’s ca­reer, TOS can strip pitch­ers of their ef­fec­tive­ness, and that seems to be the case with Har­vey.

He had mo­ments, the ve­loc­ity re­turn- ing to the mid-90s on his fast­ball. But the other pitches never came back, and his com­mand of any of his pitches was shaky. So less than three years af­ter that night at Citi Field in the World Se­ries, he made his last ap­pear­ance on the mound for the Mets on May 3.

It wasn’t a start, but mop-up duty out of the bullpen, and when he wasn’t up to that task, sur­ren­der­ing five runs, he headed to the dugout, but there was no fight this time. In­stead there was just the sound of the fans boo­ing as he failed again.

This came shortly af­ter an­other offfield in­ci­dent, Har­vey head­ing to a night­club in Los An­ge­les the night be­fore a game in San Diego. A glam­orous open­ing at a club, a night to feel like a celebrity. When it was ex­posed with club­go­ers tak­ing photos, Alder­son couldn’t hide his dis­taste for the sit­u­a­tion, say­ing he would have been dis­ap­pointed only if it was un­ex­pected.

There was a quote from an old man­ager, Dick Williams, in the late 1960s when mar­i­juana use was be­com­ing preva­lent as a coun­ter­cul­ture drug and he barked some­thing to the ef­fect that if you get caught with it you’d bet­ter be hit­ting .340 at the All-Star break.

When Har­vey was at the night­club he wasn’t hit­ting .340 at the All-Star break. The celebrity chase isn’t so cute any­more when it’s all you have.

“I try not to let emo­tion in­ter­fere with de­ci­sion-mak­ing, but em­pa­thy is part of mak­ing decisions,” Alder­son said. “I like Matt. In spite of all the stuff that’s gone on, cer­tainly be­cause of a lot of the stuff that’s gone on, I re­ally like Matt. He’s a hu­man be­ing. As I said be­fore, he’s a vul­ner­a­ble hu­man be­ing and kind of leaves him­self open for those of us who know him and semi-trusts at least. We’re go­ing to miss him in many ways.”

Maybe so. It’s hard to see just how right now. As a pitcher? Maybe some­day, but there’s lit­tle hint of that? As a celebrity? The Mets never re­ally wanted him to be that.

The num­ber will never be re­tired. The mo­ment never hap­pened.

Most kids dream of that mo­ment, stand­ing on the mound in a World Se­ries game and know it will never come true.

For Matt Har­vey, he could al­ways see the mo­ment of great­ness. It’s this mo­ment that he never could have seen com­ing.

NOAH K. MUR­RAY/USA TO­DAY SPORTS

Mets picher Matt Har­vey never re­gained his ef­fec­tive­ness af­ter two ca­reer-threat­en­ing in­juries re­sulted in surg­eries.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.