The Metsing has gotten exhausting.
Keeping up with the Metsing this week took too much effort, too much time. There was too much Metsing, too fast and too absurd to comprehend before, without time to prepare, there was more Metsing. Wave after wave of Metsing, each update more ridiculous than the last. Entirely too much Metsing.
It began as a normal Sunday, a Sunday like any other Sunday. A Harvey Day Sunday, which has taken on a different meaning than 2013 Harvey Days, but one that still holds a magnetic appeal. We don’t count strikeouts on Harvey Day anymore. We count outs, cross our fingers as we wait for the radar gun to flash. Is this 97 mph fastball Matt Harvey or 93 mph fastball Matt Harvey? At what point do we accept that this is the new Matt Harvey? Is this the new Matt Harvey? Will he have to transform himself into a new pitcher, one with a 93 mph fastball? Or will he regain his old form and return to the days of breathless anticipation, of Batman masks and capes?
Then, suddenly, it wasn’t a Harvey Day Sunday. It was Staff Ace Adam Wilk Sunday. Harvey had been banished from Citi Field for three days for an unknown indiscretion, sent home for some unreported crime.
Staff Ace Adam Wilk, it turns out, isn’t very good. Or maybe Giancarlo Stanton is just too good. We won’t get another chance to find out.
In Slack, we placed bets on how long it would take the real story to leak and who would break the news.
Around 3:30 p.m., Jon Heyman tweeted that Harvey had, in fact, shown up to the stadium Sunday after “a miscommunication, and was advised then that he was suspended.”
At this point, the story has already started falling apart. We’d been told Harvey’s suspension began Saturday. How did he not know about it? Had the Mets not told him? Did he think he could change their minds by force of will, or simply trick them into forgetting about the suspension?
By 4 p.m., Heyman reported that Harvey had gone golfing Saturday morning, gone home with a migraine, and called out sick, either to the wrong people or to not enough people or with not enough warning.
Hours of silence had sent Mets Twitter back to its truest form: an intricate web of conspiracies and speculation, fueled by anger and disappointment.
Around 4 p.m. Mike Puma reported, on the word of anonymous sources, that the Mets were considering not pitching Harvey on Wednesday to avoid a “hostile environment.” Enemy territory had breached the borders of Citi Field. The call was coming from inside the stadium. Mets fans, or so the team believed, had turned against the Dark Knight.
At 4:15, Terry Collins spoke to the media and, instead of calming the rumors, fueled the fire by saying he “can’t answer” whether Harvey’s teammates respect him. There is a time for honesty on the dais and a time for placating the masses. Jose Reyes and Jay Bruce are still going to give their quotes about Harvey needing to act like a team player or grow up or whatever other athlete clichés they used. Collins, here, had a chance to calm down a fanbase with no real harm to anyone involved. He did not.
By 5 p.m., two hours until first pitch and the game that’s supposed to be the focus of our attention, someone (the front office? Harvey? Scott Boras?) leaked to Heyman that the team had sent “Mets security people” to check on their no-longer-a-star star pitcher in his Manhattan apartment at 10 p.m. Friday. Of course, the move was presented as precautionary, a team looking out for its employee. The Mets care, you see, about Matt Harvey. Or maybe they just wanted to make sure he was home in his pajamas, nursing an ice pack to his forehead and popping Aspirin like he was supposed to.
A midnight Page Six news dump reveals that Mets fans might not be so dumb after all: Harvey was knocking back vodka and tequila at 10ak until 4 a.m. Saturday. That headache, suddenly, looks like it had some help. The problem, of course, is that this news surprises very few people. It also explains the sketchiness of the Mets’ explanations. No one wants to admit their pitcher was out partying too late and skipped work the next day. It’s insubordinate at best, embarrassing at worst. No one looks good in this situation and the Mets, to their credit, tried to cover it up. They failed miserably, and their plans to “keep it in-house” were blown up within hours, but they tried. It’s the thought that counts, right?
Harvey is due back today, the prodigal son returning home. Buster Olney has suggested that the Dark Knight be sent to the minors to rehabilitate his arm and his image. Vegas probably isn’t the right spot for him.
The first apology goes to the team, a behind-closed-doors therapy session in which Harvey presumably apologized for his worst transgressions.
The second apology goes to the fans in a televised press conference in which Harvey says all the right things. His speechwriter deserves a raise.
“First of, as I just did with my teammates and all of the coaches, I apologized for my actions and I do apologize for my actions. Obviously, I’m extremely embarrassed by my actions. I apologized to my teammates, to the Mets organization, to the Wilpons, all the way down, to the Mets fans for doing what I did. Yes, I was out on Friday night past curfew. I did play golf Saturday morning, and I put myself in a bad place to be ready for showing up to a ballgame. That is my responsibility. I take full blame for that and I’ve apologized to my teammates, I’ve apologized to the coaches, and I’m doing everything in my power so that never happens again. And like I’ve said, I’m extremely embarrassed for my actions and I’m looking forward to getting things back on track and doing everything I can to help this team win and help this organization moving forward and they all have my word on that one.”
Harvey was contrite and believable, or, at least, as believable as he needed to be. Not believable enough to face the wrath of his own fans on a Wednesday day game with the stands full of kids, but enough that maybe, hopefully, fingers crossed, this drama could finally end one day.
It doesn’t, though. The drama never ends. Instead, we get more gossip pieces, this time that Harvey was so distressed over brief fling Adriana Lima going back to ex-boyfriend Julian Edelman that he was drowning his sorrows in a bottle. Look, we’ve all been there, in situations where bed and chocolate and alcohol are the only fix. The rest of us still show up for work the next day.
Tommy Milone got a standing ovation in the hostile environment of Citi Field.
It’s been radio silence on Harvey for days at this point and, for the first time, that’s good news. No more stories about broken hearts or drunken rages in the Meatpacking District. He’s supposed to start Friday against the Brewers, in the apparently friendly confines of Miller Park. Everything is back on track.
Except that track looks different now than it did on Saturday, when Harvey was just a once-great pitcher returning after life-changing surgery. The partying and the golf and the no-show, which both Harvey and the Mets had to know would come out eventually despite their best attempts to hide the truth, have fractured an already shaky relationship between the pitcher and the team. I don’t know what that relationship looks like going forward. I don’t know if Matt Harvey is a Met in 2018. I do know he’s not being traded for Rafael Devers.
But the thing is this: if Harvey pitches well, this all gets forgotten. If he shows up to the ballpark every day and throws six innings of two-run ball every five days, nobody talks about the drinking. All Harvey has to do is exactly what he’s paid obscene amounts of money to do: pitch.
Photo credit: Noah K. Murray – USA Today Sports