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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
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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Harvey Daze

Tuesday was Harvey Day, though you could have been excused for identifying it as simply Tuesday. Matt Harvey, as has been the case most of his six starts this season, pitched well enough to not lose had he been facing the 2016-to-date version of himself. Unfortunately, he was up against Matt Wisler, and Wisler’s been a mother throughout his brief career against the Mets, never more so than Tuesday, when he one-hit them over eight innings.

If you could have had your choice of Matts last night, and you chose Harvey, you would have lost, just as the Mets did, 3-0. But why wouldn’t you choose Harvey? He’s been the ideal choice almost every night since Harvey Day became a thing.

Our Matt will have his Day again, but it’s a tough find on the calendar at present. Breaking stuff lacks bite. Velocity is off. Trademark poise of yore goes missing in tight spots. Good thing calendars have pages that turn.

Dan Warthen hasn’t yet produced an answer for Matt’s trending 2-4, 4.76 woes. Warthen’s an expert, and if he doesn’t seriously know, then I don’t seriously know. But that won’t stop me from offering a cartoon solution that I’m sure you’ll agree will be of no help at all.

Or it might be exactly what turns him around.

Perhaps instead of treating Harvey as the Dark Knight, we need to look at him as Popeye (who is underrated as superheroes go). When Popeye was in trouble, what did he turn to? Spinach. A couple of cans down the gullet when his back was against the wall, and next thing you knew, the ol’ salt’s biceps were shaped like battleships, his fists were suddenly anvils and nobody (not Bluto, not Brutus, not Freddie Freaking Freeman) stood a chance of besting him.

As much as we know about Matt, including his bathroom habits, it is not on record how he reacts to spinach. Yet according to extensive research — mainly rereading this Men’s Journal profile from 2013 a few minutes ago — his most dominant period of pitching coincided with his most public enjoyment of potent potables. Matt himself revealed a familial fondness for “dirty martinis and music […] we get the booze going, and the music starts playing.” If that was his training method, it paid off, because right around that time he started the All-Star Game. Talk about your sweet music! Then he condemned the story, not long after which he was diagnosed with a bad elbow.

Perhaps if he hadn’t turned so shy about how he liked to bend it (responsibly and with moderation, of course), it would have been fine.

Harvey has spent the past couple of years convincing us how committed he is to his craft. In the postgame scrum last night, he reiterated how hard he’s been working and how hard he’s going to keep working. Nelson Figueroa observed that the pressure may be getting to Matt, because it sounded as if he’s become someone who, instead of playing ball, is working ball, and that, SNY’s analyst indicated, can be counterproductive.

So let’s make baseball fun again for Matt Harvey. Next time he finds himself down three runs in the sixth, Erick Aybar on second, Mallex Smith on first, his pitch count busting into triple digits, his skipper skedaddling from the dugout to remove him in favor of Hansel Robles, instead of giving him the hook, give him what he really needs. Send Olive Oyl (or whichever high-fashion model is currently the apple of his eye) to the mound with a bottle of Absolut in one hand and a bottle of vermouth in the other, outfit Kevin Plawecki’s chest protector with a chilled cocktail shaker and…well, if the same principle rescued Popeye, imagine what it could do for Batman.

Or Harvey could just watch some tape, confer with Warthen, adjust his mechanics and try his best his next time through the rotation. That might do the trick, too. I honestly have no idea.

15 comments to Harvey Daze

  • Greg Mitchell

    I fear that in about another month most of us will have to admit: Scott Boras was right, even if they way he expressed it was wrong. I was in the vast minority of Mets fans last year–as a close follower of what happens to pitchers coming off surgery or after big jump in innings–who said it was foolish to not restrict Harvey’s innings more than they ended up doing. Clearly he is suffering in the aftermath. Forget about “not enough bite” on his curve–his velocity is off at least 3 mph. It’s as if he’s already gassed–which, in a sense, he is. You have to hope he gets a little better this year and bounces back next year. I could easily cite 50 examples of pitchers who suffer the year after over-use–just look for one example, right next door at Yankees’ “sure thing” Severino.

    • Seth

      But in fairness, we don’t know if that’s the issue. A few good starts in a row and all of this will be forgotten.

  • Dave

    Well, with all due respect to Dan Warthen, I’m surprised the real expert hasn’t chimed in. Cue Scott Boras informing us all that Harvey would be just fine now if the Mets had only listened to him in regards to Harvey’s 2015 innings limit.

    And I hope that Harvey prefers his martinis with gin. A drink with vodka is no martini, but I digress. But since we all have no idea, worth a shot.

  • Lots of nutrients in beer. And we know how healthy red wine is.

  • Your solution is appropo. The recent Harvey Experience has decidedly left me shaken. Not stirred.

  • Paul Schwartz

    I’m just annoyed that Harvey has turned into John Maine.

  • Dave

    Well, somebody has to go to the bullpen when Wheeler comes back.

  • Very true, he does not seem to be having fun out there.

  • Eric

    Collins should have brought in Familia to pitch to Hosmer after he walked Cain to start the 9th.

  • Wes

    Harvey has made six starts so far. While he was on the mound*, he has gotten the following run support:
    5/03 vs. ATL – 5.2 IP / 0 runs (L)
    4/27 vs. CIN – 6.0 IP / 3 runs (W)
    4/22 vs. ATL – 5.0 IP / 5 runs (W)
    4/16 vs. CLE – 5.2 IP / 1 run (L)
    4/10 vs. PHI – 6.0 IP / 0 runs (L)
    4/03 vs. KAN – 6.0 IP / 0 runs (L)

    The problem with Harvey is that he is pitching under incredible pressure — he’s not getting any run support so when he’s on the mound he has to feel like he has to mow everyone down. If the Mets scored some runs, he could afford to be looser on the mound.

    Either that, or the dude’s arm is tired. Let him pitch four innings and then bring in Logan Verrett to pitch the next few. We have closers in baseball… Why not “starters”?

    * For the purposes of this post, I only counted runs that were scored when Harvey was ON THE MOUND — the Mets scoring the half-inning after he was lifted do not count. And if you’re doing the math – that means opposing pitchers have a 2.50 ERA against the Mets while Harvey is on the hill (or a 1.31 ERA if you discount the Atlanta game). Give the guy a break.

  • […] he can correct it, well, we’ll all let our hair down in Jacobian style. As with Matt Harvey the other night, this performance can be categorized, if you squint hard, as a top-notch starter lacking good stuff […]