Matt Harvey Retirement Sad For Mets Fans
Perhaps, it should not have come as a surprise. After all, Matt Harvey wasn’t Matt Harvey anymore. There was a long suspension looming, and there was the stain of the Tyler Skaggs trial, but you just hoped there would be just one more act in Matt Harvey’s career.
Sadly, there will not be as Harvey announced his retirement on Instagram. With that ends a career which meant a lot to Mets fans.
People forget what it was like to be a Mets fan in 2012. The Wilpons were broke, and the last player they signed before they were officially tied up in the Madoff Scandal was Jason Bay.
Citi Field back then was a massive disappointment. There was no honoring Mets history. The depth of the outfield walls were a joke. It seemed like the Wilpons wanted it to be more Brooklyn Dodger than New York Mets. In fact, it was so bad they eliminated Dwight Gooden‘s improptu signature from inside the stadium.
Then, late in 2012, Harvey pitched in Arizona. He set a Mets record striking out 11 in his Major League debut. He gave us a glimpse of how good he could be. He started to give Mets fans hope.
Then, 2013 happened. It was a season that rarely comes along. From his first start of the season, you could tell this was going to be something special. While it didn’t culminate in a Cy Young, it was one of the more special seasons in Mets history.
There was the “Harvey’s Better!” chants when he pitched against Stephen Strasburg. He almost had the perfect game against the Chicago White Sox. There was the blood coming from his nose. The Cholula hot sauce meter with Harvey topping 100 MPH with his fastball.
Matt Harvey on the "Harvey's Better" chants from April 19, 2013:
"That day will forever stay in my dreams. I know I pitched well and we were on our way to a win, and as I'm sitting in the dugout, all I hear is the chants overtaking Citi Field…I never wanted it to end." pic.twitter.com/Skx6wMj6HU
— SNY (@SNYtv) May 5, 2023
He started the All-Star Game over Clayton Kershaw, who might’ve been at the peak of his abilities. The Mets were hosting the All-Star Game, and Harvey, our ace, was starting. This was almost unfathomable.
Sure, we were going overboard with the Tom Seaver comparisons, but could you blame us? We could tell greatness when we saw it, and Harvey was great. Sadly, he would be more Gooden than Seaver.
Because it’s the Mets, Harvey torn his UCL that magical 2013 season, and he was shut down until 2015. Little did we know then, but that 2015 season would effectively be the end of Harvey’s career.
Harvey started out great, and the Mets were trying to ease the workload because the team was better than they anticipated. Harvey hated the six man rotation, and Scott Boras hated the innings on Harvey’s arm. Harvey was caught in the middle.
The Mets definitively reneged on their promises. Mets created some theater with David Wright sitting down and talking to him all game long (because that’s how players really handle things – talking in the dugout and not in the clubhouse or away from the field). Harvey was a deer in the headlights who did mishandle things a bit.
In the end, Harvey pitched, and he would throw more innings post Tommy John than anyone before him. He won a pivotal Game 3 against the Dodgers in the NLDS. He was GREAT in Game 1 of the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs setting the tone for the would be sweep.
It was the great Harvey game we don’t talk about as much. He really set a tone for a Mets team who was surging. Of course, we know why it was overlooked. It was overlooked because of Game 5 of the World Series.
While the Mets were down 3-1, you could still believe they had a chance. After all, momentum in baseball was your next day’s starting pitcher. For the Mets that was Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard. First, there was Harvey, and he was everything the Mets needed him to be that night.
He shut out the Kansas City Royals over eight innings striking out nine. That’s where your head and your heart come into conflict. Your head said go to Jeurys Familia. Terry Collins followed his heart and sent Harvey back out there. After all, he was pitching like an ace, and he sent his ace to finish what he started.
It’s September 27th. Matt Harvey is through eight scoreless and begs Brandon Hyde to finish the game. Camden Yards erupts as he takes the mound. This time he gets it done. Orioles win 1-0 thanks to a Ryan Mountcastle homer. Baltimore takes 4th place pic.twitter.com/WH8EjoW9cP https://t.co/fzHdA4Ym7O
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) February 13, 2021
Citi Field was raucous after he took the mound. It’s about as loud as that ballpark ever got. We know it didn’t end well for him, and part of that was Collins not knowing when to pull him. Sadly, in many ways, that game was a microcosm of Harvey’s career.
Greatness was there for the taking for Harvey, but he could never complete it. There were rumblings back then, especially when Harvey didn’t show up for workouts. As we discovered, Harvey had a drug problem.
We finally knew that for sure with the Skaggs trial. It’s why the Mets had to begrudgingly designate him for assignment and trade him. It’s why he was bad with the Los Angeles Angels. It’s part of the reason his career is over.
That didn’t cause the TOS. In the end, the TOS was why he could never get it back. However, in the end, it was the looming suspension and the after effects of the trial that precipitated this retirement.
Fortunately, Harvey did have one last hurrah pitching for Italy int he World Baseball Classic. He was the ace for the surprise team of the tournament. He was the most pleasant surprise for sure. You had hoped it would lead to one last chance for him.
We now know it won’t come. He won’t have the redemption story Gooden and Darryl Strawberry had, at least not in the majors. However, that doesn’t change how great he was or his impact on the Mets.
Harvey is forever a part of Mets lore. He was an important figure who gave us hope when there was no reason to have any. He helped bring the Mets back to relevance. Mets fans know that and loved him for that, and that’s why he got a standing ovation the last time he pitched at Citi Field.
Hopefully, Harvey is at peace with his decision. Hopefully, there is more for him to do in baseball. Hopefully, he understands how much Mets fans will forever love him and how appreciative we are for what he did.
It’s a sad moment for Mets fans. The hope is that it’s not a sad moment for Harvey. The hope is that it’s a new beginning for him.