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Tuning In Harvey

Perhaps you remember when you could cure what momentarily ailed a television set by whacking it on the side. It did the trick maybe once in twenty tries, but the memory of it working that one time stayed with you. So if your reception was erratic, your rabbit ears weren’t hearing your pleas and neither the vertical nor horizontal hold allowed you to get a good grip, you’d just give it a good zetz, and…

Hey! Grab the phone book and look up TV repairmen!

Matt Harvey [1] already famously went into the shop and came back as close to as good as new as we could reasonably ask for, but still, sometimes the big picture comes in a little snowy, a little jumpy, not exactly crisp. I find myself wanting to give him the kind of purposeful, light zetz formerly reserved for the old RCA to help him tune in properly. I know he’s not a television, but I yearn deeply for him to be the best thing on mine.

Monday night in Washington, as the Mets braced for the challenge of the first relatively enormous series they’ve played during the Obama administration (which itself is in its seventh season on the air), the Nationals zetzed Matt Harvey early. It also didn’t help that the connections between a few of the batted balls he allowed and the Met defense around him desperately needed tightening. The signal was clear enough to see that this wasn’t going to be a Dark Knight kind of night.

With the Mets down by five and the pitcher’s spot coming around in the top of the fourth there were two programming options: pinch-hit for Harvey and insert Alex Torres [2] — the one pitcher you wanted nowhere near Sunday’s long day’s schlep into night [3] — or stick with Harvey, because since when do the Mets have a pinch-hitter? Besides, the memory of those few times in many tries that Matt helped his own cause stayed with you. Terry let Harvey hit, and Harvey drove in two runs.

The Mets were sort of back in the game and Harvey was back in the driver’s seat, pitching in brilliant, living color from the fourth to the seventh. If only the game had been joined already in progress, it would have won its time slot. Instead, the Mets never scored again, Torres left his usual blotchy mark on the proceedings and the Mets wound up losing by five en route to falling behind by three [4].

But we did get Harvey to come in perfectly for a while. I hope we can have that again next time he’s on.