MLB – MATT HARVEY’S LATEST NO-SHOW IS THE ULTIMATE ACT OF PLAYER DISRESPECT

Before the 2017 season started, there was a general optimism around the league that the New York Mets would be a playoff contender due to their starting rotation depth, outstanding young talent, and big offensive potential.

But, several injuries very early in the season to some of their biggest stars and an April which resulted in double the amount of losses than wins leave question marks about the post-season future of this beleaguered club.

Of course, injuries will heal, but there are just so many times hard-working players can keep their chins up around a club house that has seen more than its fair share of bad luck in the last couple of seasons.

Still, in early May, the team somehow turned the ship around due to the gutsy play of its spirited backups and they won four of five games before losing to the Marlins Sunday night.

It’s very curious, then, to understand what Mets’ starting pitcher Matt Harvey was thinking when he decided to blow off the team on Saturday (May 6) and not show up at Citi Field as expected by 3pm.

Reportedly, Harvey did not respond to initial texts from club officials when he went absent and, he didn’t reach out to them until later when he texted a pitching coach that he had a migraine and would not be coming in.

At around 10pm that evening, the Mets sent personnel to his Manhattan apartment to check on Harvey and confirm he was there, which he was.

As a result, Mets GM Sandy Alderson decided to hand Harvey a 3-game suspension for his absence and what he called a “violation of team rules”.

On the surface, missing a day at the park doesn’t seem that bad of a violation.  It was a non-pitching day for Harvey.

But, according to ESPN baseball insider Tim Kurkjian, it is very rare for any player to simply not show up at the ball park “unannounced”, even if they are not expected to play that day and/or are injured.

In fact, Kurkjian said in the 10 years he was a beat writer, he only remembers a handful of players doing this and it was generally because of a funeral.

In Matt Harvey’s case, this was not the first time the 28-year-old has suddenly played hooky like this.  Per multiple sources, he has engaged in questionable prior conduct that dates to last season (such as a missed mandatory team workout in 2015, among others).

Today, Harvey held a press conference and admitted to being out “past curfew” on Friday night. (Reports indicate it was 4am.) He also apologized for “making a mistake” and missing the game on Saturday.

This accumulation of bad behaviors by Harvey is likely the reason for the suspension by the Mets.  Unfortunately, it appears that the organization “coddled” him for years because of his talent and did not handle his previous infractions like they should have.

But I must say that, all other incidents aside, if we solely judge Harvey on Saturday’s no-show, this one occurrence reveals an utter disrespect on his part for his team, the management, the fans and the baseball community as a whole.

No, I’m not overstating this.

Every team needs their veterans to lead in the locker room, show support for their teammates, provide an example of what enthusiasm looks like, be a model of discipline, and help rally the troops, especially during tough times.

Yet, Harvey decided to party the night away on Friday night until the wee hours of the morning and after golf on Saturday morning, chose to sleep it off rather than come in to work and support his team.

After that, he spinelessly shirked off the team protocol and rather than communicate medical complaints directly to the trainer, which he was supposed to do,  he texted the pitching coach rather than speak directly to the management and/or follow his obligation(s).

Any normal person who cared about their job would not have chickened out and sent a bogus text message to a veritable co-worker instead of letting their supervisor know directly.  Who does that?  And, what kind of example does this set?

Additionally, Harvey had to know that by not showing up, it could cause more bad publicity and distraction for a club that really does not need that right now.

And, with a depleted starting pitching rotation, Harvey took a risk with his no-show.  Didn’t he think about the possibility of being censured and the fact that he wouldn’t be allowed to pitch his next start, which was Sunday (the next day).

Unfortunately, with his suspension, the Mets were forced to bring up Adam Wilk (who they flew in overnight from Albuquerque, NM) from the Class AAA Las Vegas.  His debut was a debacle when he gave up 5 earned runs in 3 2/3 innings in the Mets’ 0-7 loss.

Just think of all the Mets fans that bought tickets to that game to see Harvey pitch.  They were probably not happy that he wasn’t on the mound, let alone had to witness the embarrassing bloodletting the Marlins unleashed on their green pitcher in his place.

To make matters even worse, Harvey is considered “weathered” and past his prime due to multiple surgeries, but still has potential to be a formidable starter.  This year so far, he has been struggling and it is impacting the team.  His 2-2 record and 5.14 ERA in 6 starts leaves him 38 ranked out of 46 starting pitchers.

So, shouldn’t the “Dark Knight” be engaging in self control and follow a strict fitness and sleep plan, rather than be out all night partying and drinking during the baseball season?  Even if it wasn’t the night before his next start, his body probably wouldn’t have recovered in less than 2 days to be in prime shape to pitch.

All of this together, when the Mets are struggling to gain consistency in crisis mode, is just the epitome of egoism.

If I were the Mets, I wouldn’t wait until the end of the 2018 season when Harvey becomes a free agent to move on from him.  There is no place for disrespectful players in any baseball locker room, especially not in one that is putting up a fight for survival.

And, for his own sake, Harvey should consider relocating to a sleepy non-high profile baseball town rather than Manhattan which offers many distractions.

You know, where there are no super models in abundance, no nearby golf courses, no amazing yacht clubs, all night party venues, and any other temptations that could draw his attention away from where it is needed most:  on the ballfield and in the clubhouse.

 

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