Dominating The Conversation: A Play in Two Acts

Dominating The Conversation: A Play in Two Acts

Mets

Dominating The Conversation: A Play in Two Acts

The Mets played a sloppy game on Wednesday. Three errors, including one by Steven Matz, were the main culprits in giving up nine Cardinals runs as the Mets dropped a laugher where the only bright spot was that Jeurys Familia and the rest of the main players in the bullpen got the night off.

Matz’s throwing error, which pulled Wilmer Flores off the bag and led directly to the Cardinals runs in the fourth, was the catalyst in what Matz described in “speeding the game up. Only three of Matz’s seven runs were earned, but it’s not a good sign when you can’t work out of jams caused by your own error and then use it as an excuse. Sid Fernandez was notorious for letting things like errors and balks and walks get to him. But at least he usually waited until the sixth inning to speed the game up after being dominant through the first five. Matz is nowhere close to being Sid Fernandez, let alone an ace in a rotation allegedly chock full of them.

Out of five starts, Matz has only gotten an out in the sixth inning once, and only gotten outs in the fifth inning twice. For a fifth starter that’s bad, and for a third starter as Matz started the season as, that’s horrendous. And the grace period of cold weather and manager cautiousness is running out. Matz had better figure it out, and it’s also on Callaway and Eiland to figure it out for him before one Matt Harvey comes back into the rotation and has to speak to reporters again. Considering what happened earlier Wednesday, that should be fun.

So look, I’m kind of a Harvey apologist. I sympathized with him when he skipped out on the media session a couple of years ago in Washington when he had bad start after bad start after bad start, and those post game media scrums started to become Groundhog Day. That incident seemed to be born out of genuine frustration. I thought Harvey deserved a pass on that.

He doesn’t deserve a pass on this one. Any good will he had accrued with the media was gone long ago, and he needed to act humble for his own sake. Know that what you’re going to read from here on in isn’t coming from a place of “Anti-Harvey”. I really do empathize with his situation. He had everything, and after two major surgeries he’s losing his ability to be elite and the life he once enjoyed seems to be slipping away from him. I can’t even imagine what that feeling is and I really do have sympathy for the man. And, as it was argued to me, he always seems to be in a no-win situation with the media where any answer he gives is going to be spun into a commentary about his ego. Yes, it’s unfair, just like the hatchet jobs on Yoenis Cespedes are unfair.

But the best way to kill something is to deny it oxygen. Smother it. Matt Harvey could have smothered this thing today before it came into existence by just answering a couple of questions. And even if he didn’t want to do that, he could have handled it in a hundred different ways that would have made him a little bit more of a sympathetic figure with maybe a hint of moral high ground. He could have smothered this thing and given it oxygen. Instead, he built a greenhouse for an unnecessary battle.

Many have said to me that the reporters have screwed him in the past and that they didn’t have to pursue it further after Harvey said he wasn’t going to answer their questions. But first thing: Yes they did. Yes they did. Talking to the media is a part of a ballplayer’s job. Asking questions of ballplayers is basically a sportswriter’s entire job. Second thing, if Matt had politely declined to answer questions, maybe this goes nowhere. But without being in the room and just reading DiComo’s tweet, it didn’t sound polite at all … and that’s just the part about the audible laughter. Forget the f-bomb.

Apr 24, 2018; St. Louis, MO, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher Matt Harvey (33) walks off the field after the final out of the fifth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Look, at a certain point it’s in the best interests of Matt Harvey to be the adult in the room, no matter how many hit pieces have been written about him. There’s a better way to handle that. It’s easier to ask one person to change than to ask an entire subsection of major league baseball beat reporters to change. They’re not changing. They are who they are and it’s unfair sometimes, but there’s a way to deal with them even if you don’t want to acquiesce to them all the time. Answering three harmless questions about his first bullpen stint would have ended this thing before it had any oxygen. Yes, Harvey’s answers would have been scrutinized, and probably unfairly. But guess what: Welcome to New York. Harvey’s been here long enough to know what the media in a baseball town like New York is all about, good and bad.

Hell, even staying out of the area where reporters were allowed would have ultimately been better than the path he chose. Laughing out loud and telling reporters “I don’t f***ing want to?” that registered as a five on the Bonilla scale.

And forget what’s good for the reporters. I don’t expect anybody reading this to sympathize with the job of a reporter, or even certain reporters that have stirred controversy for its own sake. And if Matt Harvey doesn’t give a rat about the job they do, that’s fine. But he should answer their questions for his own sake and for the sake of his teammates. Because now they’re going to ask Tomas Nido and Jay Bruce about him and they don’t have the answers. Is it fair for reporters to do that? Maybe not. But that’s what they’re going to do because it’s their job.

And that’s what Harvey should be concerned about. Because the moment Harvey’s petulance becomes a drain on his teammates, that’s a problem. Harvey shouldn’t be required to care about Joel Sherman’s story, but he should be expected to be a good teammate. Maybe his teammates have his back. Maybe they don’t care about this incident. But why even risk it? What purpose does it serve Matt Harvey in the end? If he wants to be a prickly sort then so be it. I’ll defend his right to be who he is because when it all comes down to it, he doesn’t have to be David Wright or Todd Frazier or any of the clean cut nice young boys in the Mets’ clubhouse. And anyone who expects that is completely missing the point.

But the least he can do is be a good teammate. Giving oxygen to needless fires is counterproductive to his cause and he doesn’t need it on top of everything else that he’s going through. You may not agree with the New York press but they’re not going to change. Matt Harvey has been in New York long enough to understand this and his lack of adjustment to that reality is on him. And only him.

Today’s Hate List

  1. Michael Wacha
  2. Marcell Ozuna
  3. Dexter Fowler
  4. Jed Gyorko
  5. Vince Coleman

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