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Harvey Days and Thursdays

I like the part where perhaps the best righty in the league comes back and pitches like he never paused for an elbow operation and subsequent rehabilitation.

Matt Harvey is ComebacKKKKKKKKK Player of the WeeKKKKKKKKK. With nine strikeouts after a twenty-month layoff, can month, year, decade and century be far behind?

“Just one start” is one of those things you say because a) it’s accurate and b) it’s sensible, yet never has “just one start” felt like a whole lot more. Our ace returned to resume His Aceness. He threw hard. He changed speeds. He baffled batters. He won.

As did the Mets [1]. There’s likely a connection there.

The Mets played a wonderful game in support of/alongside Harvey. David Wright went the other way at bat and implicitly declared through his defensive actions his intention to compete for a Gold Glove. Travis d’Arnaud continued to hit like Johnny Bench and began to throw like Jerry Grote. Michael Cuddyer made with an RBI. Curtis Granderson reached base like Rickey Henderson in his prime. Daniel Murphy made a nice play. Wilmer Flores slid in expert fashion. Ian Desmond played for the other team.

The whole lot of Mets played supremely while Matt Harvey pitched. Matt Harvey pitched six innings, struck out nine and allowed no runs. It was 6-0 when his 88 pitches were completed. It was 6-3 when the game was over, partly because the bullpen doesn’t include Harvey, partly because you can only keep a good team scoreless for so long. But it was a Mets win over the Nationals, something that occurred only four times in all of 2014 and now has happened half as many times in extremely early 2015.

Harvey Days and Thursdays never get you down when they go like this.

Not nearly pitching at Matt Harvey’s level was Stephen Strasburg, which would be considered a shame by impartial observers, but given our partiality, that’s fine. On the same day the Masters began in Augusta, it was reasonable to expect two guys at the top of their games teeing off at 1:05 in Washington. But only one pitcher turned out to be a master of the mound this Thursday afternoon. Strasburg was…well, two years ago this month I was part of a crowd that delighted in chanting [2] that HARVEY’S BETTER.

Today it would seem unseemly to point that out. Really, it’s kind of implied.

But amid the cool and the clouds (and the unwanted Tim Leary flashbacks [3] I was experiencing) Harvey was definitely better. I had anticipated a little something along the lines of Pedro-Smoltz from the first week of 2005 [4] or Santana-Josh Johnson from around the same juncture in 2009 [5]. Instead, it was Harvey versus whoever. We can’t complain when a dissolved duel tilts in our favor, though it’s a little disconcerting to realize it wasn’t five years ago that arbiter of Western Civilization Bob Costas was informing the rest of us that Walter Johnson should prepare to move over [6], there was a new monument in Washington. The hype for Strasmas [7] in D.C. used to be comparable to anything we gin up for our Harvey Day folkways. Now, from the looks and sounds of things, it’s primarily Mets fans who make sure to be at Nationals Park when Strasburg pitches — and not because Strasburg is pitching.

Then again, Strasburg’s been a highly effective person on the mound since returning from his own interaction with Tommy John. Maybe you can apply the “just one game” qualifier to him for this outing. Still, when you consider our nation’s capital is about 150 miles north of Appomattox, where 150 years ago today Lee surrendered to Grant and ensured our nation’s capital would remain our nation’s capital (and our nation would resume being our nation in full), it’s instructive to remember that Lee at least showed up.

Strasburg was barely a factor on a Thursday that was all Harvey Day all the time. The hope here is that the calendar continues to register one Harvey Day after another, every fifth human day on the fifth human day, even if it’s just six innings and 90 pitches per appearance until Matt is deemed totally physically indestructible again.

On this Harvey Day, hope gloats. Hope is entitled to gloat today. Hope was on the disabled list for the final month of 2013 and the entirety of 2014. Hope has returned to defeat the prohibitive divisional favorite Nationals on their home field the first chance hope got.

Hope is a good thing, according to Andy Dufresne, maybe the best of things. And Harvey is an outstanding pitcher — with maybe the most marvelously rehabilitated of arms.