NY Sports Day
Rich Coutinho

Coutinho: Matt Harvey Was The Mets Star When They Needed Him The Most

Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire

I have covered this sport for over 3 decades but it is hard to imagine a fall from grace like the story we have seen involving Matt Harvey. He was an instant star when he emerged on the scene and created a buzz I had not seen here in NY since Dwight Gooden wore the Mets orange and blue back in 1984. But here we are a few years later and was designated for assignment today after he refused a minor league assignment.

I must admit I had a working relationship with Harvey but never really got to know him the way I know others in the Met clubhouse. He was never disrespectful to me but he was guarded with the media and I never developed the type of relationship I had with others like Familia for instance. So what caused this story to end so badly here in Flushing?

For the most part, it was the injuries that he had to endure and in fairness to Harvey, we may never know what those extra innings he threw in 2015 did to his overall health. He was “forced” to throw those post-season innings and performed well but it was more innings than any pitcher has ever thrown in his first year of hurling after Tommy John surgery. His Thoracic Outlet syndrome miseries is something he may have never recovered from and having to deal with at such a young age had to be so deflating to him.

As often occurs in this town, the media loves to anoint superstar status and then send that player down the chute because that sells newspapers. But Harvey made it easier for them in that his off the field escapades greased the skids of his demise. Terry Collins was forced to suspend him because of numerous incidents in which he defied team rules. And his new manager-Mickey Callaway-tried his best along with Dave Eiland—to make a strong effort to coach him in a way in which he would be given every opportunity to succeed.

But when things went bad, Harvey acted like an ego driven person who was determined to be a starter not properly preparing for his role as a reliever and even today, the Mets offered him time to think about the minor leagues but he immediately refused giving them no choice but to DFA him. Again, the last few years Harvey had to deal with so many obstacles but in the past few weeks, he created more of them.

So what the legacy of Matt Harvey be in the annals of Met history? It is hard to say but I think it will be a mixed bag. Some will remember the great moments like starting the All Star game and excelling in so many post-season starts in 2015. Others may view him as the first pitcher of “The New Mets” to emerge on the scene and give Met fans hope that these arms would carve out their future. There are some that might remember the last few moments where Harvey made it hard for fans to love him.

I choose the remember the great moments because he was a superstar Met at the time the team badly needed one. But his story is also a life lesson—never take your present success and assume it will be there forever. And never make it easier for potential critics to pile on by not focusing on your career goals every single waking moment. I really hope Matt Harvey finds a job and succeeds at his next venue because stories like that make this the greatest game in the world. But he has to clean up his act and learn to trust coaches in their game plan for him. That is the only way he will once again become a major league pitcher.


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