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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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We're Not Doctors

Matt Harvey this afternoon told reporters, “I’m not a doctor.” At last I can confirm I have something in common with someone I heretofore assumed was everything and could do anything.

Matt’s not a doctor, so he can’t say much about the partial UCL tear heard ’round the world except that his right forearm had been feeling tight and now he was in the middle of a press conference talking about how he won’t be pitching for a while. I’m not a doctor, so I would be talking out my hat if I pretended to know that the tightness in question was a five-alarm harbinger of the elbow injury that now sidelines him for god knows how long, or simply the kind of business-as-usual situation that afflicts those who throw baseballs for a living along with those whose sacred charge is to nurture their careers. I’m also not one of the best pitchers on the planet, never mind also not being the fulcrum upon which the fortunes of a Major League Baseball franchise pivots.

Harvey is all that. He’s an out-of-the-box icon to those of us of who wrapped our hearts in orange and blue long before we ever fell under the spell of the Mystic Mystique. He made being a Mets fan exponentially better in 2013. He was going to make being a Mets fan outstanding in 2014. He and we were going to have a long and beautiful mutually beneficial relationship. Well, it was going to benefit us and we planned to bathe him in gratitude for eternity.

We might still make beautiful baseball together, but there’s going to be a gap while Matt’s elbow is tended to and there’s going to be uncertainty in the interim. Surgery is not certain. A return date is not certain. His eventual effectiveness for when he pitches once more…we can only hope.

Only hope is all we as Mets fans can ever do.

You could’ve pulled Harvey after five innings every five days for four months and then sent him home with an icepack and it might not have helped. I’m still not a doctor, a trainer, a physical therapist or remotely athletic, but I’d hazard a guess that it’s impossible to prevent hard-throwing young arms from experiencing tightness. And I doubt that Bobby Ojeda was wrong when he analyzed Matt Harvey’s situation as such: pitchers pitch in pain — they call it discomfort, but it’s pain; it’s the price of admission to being a professional. You can invoke Tim Leary all you want, but unless every start is Wrigley in April, you never can tell and you can’t fully shield them from the physical dangers lurking sixty feet, six inches from home plate.

Last night on Breaking Bad, the removal of airplane ashtrays and the proliferation of children’s bicycle helmets were bemoaned as a sign of the discouraging times. “I look at that,” creepy Todd’s creepy uncle lamented, “and I say what the hell happened to this country?” I sometimes feel that way about pitch counts. Tom Seaver threw 18 complete games as a rookie and 20 seasons with no significant time missed until he was 35. Seaver likes to say they had pitch counts when he was coming along, except the pitch count for him was specific to him, not Koosman, not Ryan, not anybody else. Seaver as a young Met icon was never put on the shelf unless you count the 25,000 Tom Terrific bobblehead likenesses handed out Sunday. I’ve got one of those on my shelf right now and I bathe the actual Seaver in gratitude every chance I get.

Nevertheless, telling a pitcher in his early twenties to go out there and “throw like Seaver for as long as Seaver” probably isn’t an answer. I’m not sure what exactly is. Harvey’s injury could have been prevented with infallible prescience, a commodity that tends not to exist in the Mets organization or life its own self. Presumably Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins would have a better handle on this than us mere civilians, but they had a young pitcher who was as strong as a horse, as stubborn as a mule, as determined as a bulldog and as talented as Matt Harvey.

When he looked just a little off for a couple of starts, it was as unreasonable to assume something was going terribly wrong as it would be to expect Superman to be at the top of his game in every single panel on every single page. When he looked extraordinarily mortal against the Tigers, you figured something along the lines of “fatigue,” which is how Harvey identified it afterwards. The Mets were going to limit his innings anyway. This was just a sign that the limit was nigh. Or so it seemed. Maybe his internal maximum had already been surpassed without us knowing it. Maybe it was just one of those things that was going to happen sooner or later, not necessarily because one of these things inevitably happens to the Mets in our minds.

Come to think of it, the Mets as a team might want to put an innings limit on their seasons from now on. Perhaps try capping them at around July 25.

15 comments to We’re Not Doctors

  • Patrick O'Hern

    Johan no hitter then the aftermath. Dickey was gone so quick it’s like the Cy Young never happened.And now this. When are we done paying off for 2 game6′s28 years ago?

  • Ljcmets

    Greg,
    I’m no doctor either, but we have been misled, and in my opinion downright lied to for so long by Mets management about Mets injuries that I am automatically suspicious. I’m inclined to believe that it isn’t A-Rod that should be suing for medical malpractice, but Harvey. At the very least he has almost certainly lost a year of his young career and who knows how he will be able to come back from this.

    I’m no public opinion expert, either, but my gut instinct tells me that the fan reaction to this will be swift and lethal, perhaps the biggest negative feeling since, yes, The Seaver Trade in 1977. It’s that big. And if it is ever uncovered that anyone within Mets ownership or management had even a sniff of this – even a whisper – the entire management should be fired and the ownership should be denounced publicly and often and shamed into selling the team just as the DeRoulet family ultimately did.

    Oh – and if David Wright is allowed within shouting distance of a professional baseball game for the rest of this season, that’s not only medicall malpractice, it’s baseball malpractice as well. If it happens, the pathetic record of poor decisions by Mets management will have its biggest black mark yet.

  • Lenny65

    This is a real blow. The flicker of genuine hope I felt re: the future has been crushed. Why do these things keep happening to us? Here’s hoping he makes a full recovery, if anyone can it’s him, but still…no Harvey until 2015? Ugh. Rooting for this franchise gets tougher and tougher every year, you know?

  • Steve D

    I don’t blame the Mets for this…the guy couldn’t have been that injured and been able to pitch like that. This had to be a recent issue. The Mets are not cursed. Any franchise would have brought this guy up the same way. Unfortunately, I believe his mechanics doomed him. Tom Seaver never had a major arm injury for a reason. He had superb mechanics. Being biased as I am, I usually assume Seaver’s mechanics are the model for any power pitcher. Any discrepancy from Seaver worries me. In the comparison below, we see a major difference in elbow positioning that could put major strain on an arm. No MLB team would have tried to change him, so you can’t blame the Mets for that either. When he comes back though, he may need to change a bit to avoid re-injury. Be thankful that today they can make his arm even stronger possibly. No Harvey next year will be hard to take. No chance of being competitive.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/66054817@N04/9603806036/

    • Lenny65

      Nah, I don’t blame anyone, I mean who can you blame? 178 or whatever innings isn’t some outrageous workload or anything. It’s just one of those things. But given the misery of the last six and change seasons, it’s especially discouraging to see our one truly budding strength get diminished so much.

      As the years go on it becomes more and more clear just how otherworldly Tom Seaver was, by any generation’s standards. Expecting anyone, ever, to be “the next Tom Seaver” is just asking for way, way too much.

    • Dennis

      Excellent post Steve. As much as people like to hammer management and create these conspiracy theories….I just don’t buy it. Things happen…..the human arm isn’t designed to be used that way repetively over and over again without the chance that something bad can happen to it. With some pitchers nothing happens. And as you mentioned there is a possibility his arm could even be stronger with the surgery they do today. Bummer for next season, but what are going to do?

    • open the gates

      “No chance of being competitive.”

      Oh, I don’t know about that. Maybe Zack Wheeler could pick up where Matt Harvey left off. Maybe Mejia will be back and replicate the small-sample success of this season. Maybe Niese and/or Gee and/or Hefner will have injury-free seasons,and paint the plate just artfully enough to win consistently. Maybe Syndergaard and/or Montero will come up and win Rookie of the Year. Maybe Johan Santana will agree to sign a one-year incentive-laden deal and return to being the Johan of old. Maybe we can get R.A. Dickey back. Maybe Miguel Cabrera decides that he likes hitting in Citi Field so much, he wants to do it on a permanent basis…

      (Sigh…) Yeah. You’re right. No chance.

  • Just sick to my stomach. There’s no other way to put it. This is the worst thing about being a Met fan living in Pittsburgh. There’s no one you can turn to and commiserate with over a drink.All they care about is the stupid Steelers.

  • sturock

    I’m not blaming anybody because these things happen, but… Matt Harvey likely needs TJS. Jeremy Hefner needs TJS. Jon Niese went down this summer and it looked bad for awhile. Jennry Mejia is done. Bobby Parnell is out.

    These are major building blocks who have become major question marks. What is going on with the Mets’ coaching? What is going on with their conditioning? With pitchers’ mechanics? What team loses 3/5′s of its starting rotation?

    Again, these things happen. But why are they happening to the Mets and why are they happening to the players the Mets need most?

  • Barry F.

    They ARE jinxed. Just admit it. Paying the price for 69 and 73 and 86. I used to think we were a lucky franchise. No one under 40 believes that now.

  • nestornajwa

    “In terms of our timetable, it certainly will have an impact,” Alderson said. Guess what that means? The Wilpons have an excuse for another no-spend offseason. Even with Harvey, they are six bats away from contention.

    A bastard in a basket.

  • RoundRockzmets

    Thanks to you and to Jason for bringing perspective and positively nailing it in your respective posts. I remain devastated and a little numb by the news but you guys are number 1 and 1(a) of all writers covering the Mets across the media. You are both brilliant and continue to get better.
    I dread the inevitable news that you both need whatever the blogger equivalent of Tommy John surgery is.

  • […] for a ballplayer). In the meantime, den Dekker and d’Arnaud and Flores and whatever pitchers whose ulnar collateral ligaments aren’t partially tearing will become the objects of our affection for the next 33 games. It’s fandom’s version of life […]

  • […] into its tail end despite having seem to have come to an abrupt halt the moment the phrase “partially torn” entered our reluctant conversation. There are no goals left for this team of ours other than to […]