The main reason that Mets fans were more optimistic about 2015 season than they were about things a year earlier was that ace pitcher Matt Harvey would be returning to the mound at CitiField after missing all of 2014 recovering from Tommy John arm surgery.
Harvey’s comeback was not just a New York story but a national one as he graced the cover of USA Today Sports Weekly was the subject of an ESPN documentary, “The Dark Knight Returns,” that aired the Saturday before the start of the 2015 season. A further tribute to his celebrity power was his appearance last Thursday night on Comedy Central’s “Daily Show,” that is hosted by rabid Mets fan Jon Stewart.
The days that Matt has been scheduled to start a game have been described by many in the media as “Harvey Day” as if it were a holiday for Mets fans.
With the season one-third over, it’s safe to assess that Matt Harvey has been fairly good but clearly not as great as the hype would leave you to believe. Legendary NFL coach Bill Parcells famously said “You are what your record says you are.” Matt Harvey is 5-3 going into this week. Yes, like all Mets pitchers he rarely gets good offensive support and has gotten no-decisions in games that he deserved to win.
On the other hand, he has given up a lot of ill-timed home runs such as the three-run bomb in the fourth inning Friday night off the bat of Marlins first baseman Justin Bohr. Harvey was perfect for the first three innings but became rattled when Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon bunted for a base hit to lead off the fourth inning and then promptly stole second base.
The Pittsburgh Pirates lit up Harvey the previous week. Even the lowly Philadelphia Phillies have not cowered in the two games in which they have faced him.
There is no argument that Matt Harvey is an exciting player to watch but he is not yet Tom Seaver or even Dwight Gooden. Let’s drop the “Harvey Day” hoopla for now.
There will be action at CitiField this Sunday afternoon even though the Mets will be in Phoenix as the ballpark will host “Legends of Wrestling.” Bill Goldberg, Bret Hart, and Ric Flair are just some of the big names that will take part.
It was very classy of the Yankees to invite new Red Storm men’s basketball coach Chris Mullin to throw out the ceremonial first pitch last Wednesday. WFAN morning air personality Craig Carton claimed that the Mets asked St. John’s to purchase a large bloc of tickets in exchange for honoring Mullin. A Mets executive told me that was blatantly untrue.
A lot of SJU fans obviously live here and would buy tickets without prompting. I believe the Mets in this case.
Congratulations to ageless Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon who received a plaque from LatinoSports.com for being the National League Pitcher of the Year for 2014 in a ceremony that was held at CitiField this past Friday afternoon.
Pedro Martinez has just written his autobiography that is simply “Pedro” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). While he had assistance from co-writer Michael Silverman, this tome is clearly written in Pedro’s voice. Martinez gives us an insider’s viewpoint into those countless Red Sox-Yankees battles when he was Boston’s ace pitcher including the infamous brawl between the two teams in the 2003 American League Championship Series Game 3 in which he threw down Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer. Pedro admits that he wishes that he handled things differently.
The one shortcoming of the book is that Pedro doesn’t spend much time discussing his tenure with the Mets from 2005-2008 except to mention that relief pitchers Braden Looper and Robert Hernandez blew a number of games that he should have won while pitching for the Amazins. He also preferred when Ramon Castro was catching him instead of Mike Piazza although he admits that he appreciated Mike’s ability to hit.
Yankees catching great Jorge Posada has also written his life story, “The Journey Home” (Dey Street). Jorge writes a lot about his dad’s influence on him as well as being part of the Yankees “Fab Five” of homegrown ‘90s talent that included Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Bernie Williams, and himself. He states that the 2001 World Series in which the Yankees lost a very emotional seven-game World Series to the Arizona Diamondbacks that occurred just weeks after 9/11 still haunts him.
On the downside, he writes very little about is his strained relationship with Yankees manager Joe Girardi and he gives short shrift as to why he asked out of the lineup just before a game in the latter part of the 2011 season even though he was healthy.
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro took a lot of flak last week from team rooters and many in the Philly media for saying that his fans weren’t knowledgeable. Amaro was venting his frustrations about the widespread demand that minor league talent be rushed to the majors because the current Phillies team is not very good. He had to apologize to his team’s fans through a press conference at CitiField where the Phillies were taking on the Mets.
The funny thing is that the personable and forthright Amaro was right and had absolutely no reason for any regrets. While it’s only natural for fans of a bad team to want to see young talent rushed along, the reality is that you can’t hurry player development. Witty Philadelphia sports columnist Jack McCaffrey hit the nail on the head when he wrote in his Sunday column that if his city’s fans like to take bows for being tough than they ought to be able to take a punch as well particularly when it’s deserved.
Jamie Loeb, who won the NCAA women’s singles tennis championship, watched batting practice at Citi Field last Friday night. She expects to be in the main draw at the US Open and is obviously looking forward to playing professionally at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center this coming August.
Comic Jim Breuer was also at CitiField on Friday and conceded that these days he is an known for his YouTube videos that show off his devotion to the Mets as he is for his standup routines these days. “You can’t underestimate the power of social media. I have had folks coming to my shows in the Carolinas wearing Mets jerseys and they are not even baseball fans!” he told me.
Book Expo America (BEA) which took place last week at the Javits Center is the publishing industry’s annual convention to promote new and upcoming titles. Dr. Todd Sinett, a well-known New York chiropractor was promoting his latest book “3 Weeks To A Better Back” (East End Press). I asked Sinett, a Mets fan, about third baseman David Wright who is suffering from spinal stenosis and whether he would play again. “Spinal stenosis sounds scary but I believe that it’s a BS diagnosis that is based on an MRI result. I have faith that Wright can overcome it with the right therapy,” he said optimistically. He added that he would be glad to send the Mets captain a copy of his book.
Wall Street Journal sports columnist Jason Gay, who I always found to be far wittier than the overrated former ESPN scribe Bill Simmons, was promoting his upcoming book, “Little Victories,” (Random House) which is about coping with the everyday frustrations of life at BEA. It will be released in early November.
A pair of Queens natives, St. Albans’ Al Roker and Ozone Park’s Bernadette Peters, were also at BEA autographing galleys of their upcoming tomes.
If you are a Rangers fan who is understandably upset that the Blueshirts did not move onto the 2015 Stanley Cup Final then you may take some solace that your pain is being shared in Philadelphia where Comcast, the parent corporation of NBC, has its headquarters. A Stanley Cup showdown between the Chicago Blackhawks and the New York Rangers would have been TV ratings gold for NBC Sports. A Tampa Bay Lightning-Chicago Blackhawks matchup? Not so much.
SiriusXM NHL Home Ice analyst and longtime Bayside resident Ashley Scharge believes that the fact that the Rangers had the best regular season record earning them the President’s Cup and home ice throughout the playoffs was actually a curse. “Only a half a dozen teams have won both the President’s Cup and then went on to win the Stanley Cup,” Ashley points out.
What was not mentioned in all of the tributes to David Letterman was his countless barbs directed at underperforming New York sports teams and athletes over the years that were staples of his “Late Show” monologues.
With all of the understandable fuss made over Dave’s retirement from late night television, not enough credit was given to his announcer, Alan Kalter, who was a key player in the show’s success in my opinion.