Seeing Matt Harvey in Citi Field isn’t weird, but it is when he’s in the visitor’s dugout to watch his team face the New York Mets.
There are only two ways to remember Matt Harvey’s tenure with the New York Mets: all the success, strikeouts, and hope he shot into the hearts of an entire fan base, or the unending frustration prior to him getting traded to the Cincinnati Reds.
I prefer to remember the good times. Am I naive for doing so? Yeah, maybe a little bit. But still, we tend to forget that these ballplayers we watch on a nightly basis aren’t machines. They’re actual human beings with thoughts and feelings, just like us. Recently passing the non-waiver trade deadline is a perfect example, too — remember when Marco Estrada seemed to flip a switch once the Toronto Blue Jays didn’t trade him last July? There was a reason for that, as he told MLB.com’s Jon Morosi.
Harvey won’t be pitching during the Reds’ series against the Mets, but as usual, the right-hander made his presence felt…even before he got to the ballpark.
The Mets requested from the Reds that Matt Harvey hold his gathering with NY reporters tomorrow at 3:45 or 4:15 so it won't conflict with Callaway's press conference at 4. … Harvey has decided to speak at 4.
— Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) August 5, 2018
Puma did follow up this tweet by saying Harvey wasn’t aware of the request. It didn’t matter at that point, though.
But once the artist formerly known as the Dark Knight sat in front of the New York media once again, his remarks had a certain tone to them.
Matt Harvey looks back on his time with the Mets, and discusses how it feels to be back at Citi Field: pic.twitter.com/kdsDt4SMNa
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) August 6, 2018
Outside of the injuries, did Harvey do his fair share of effing up? Well, of course — he recognized that himself with the benefit of hindsight. But then again, haven’t we all been there? My grandfather always said, “When you’re young, you’re stupid,” and that’s pretty spot on. I did plenty of things in my mid-20s I either regret or wish I did differently.
However, I had the benefit of making those mistakes without being one of baseball’s fastest rising stars and in one of the biggest media markets. Harvey didn’t have that luxury. It was his choice to be a big-league baseball player, so that comes with the territory. It’s hard to deal with failure when all you’ve known after a number of years is success, though. Especially when your every move is being documented.
Of all the things Harvey said during this quick chat with reporters, this was the one that struck me the most, via Anthony DiComo of MLB.com.
Matt Harvey said he may have cried a bit when the Mets DFA'd him.
Regarding his reception at Citi Field tonight:
“I can understand that there will be some boos. I do want everybody to know I do regret a lot of mistakes I made. But I did put my heart into this organization."
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) August 6, 2018
On the surface, this seems a little weird, right? I mean, he basically dared the Mets to designate him for assignment after refusing to work things out in the minors. It’s like when your high school girlfriend dumped you because it was the best thing to do, but then she cried immediately after and needed you to console her.
Did Harvey leave under the best of terms? Not quite, but it’d be foolish for people to not recognize what he meant to this franchise when he debuted in 2012. New York was basically at the beginning of their rebuild, and he instantly provided hope for the future by striking out 11 Arizona Diamondbacks in 5.1 shutout innings.
For a while, he was the only thing Mets fans had to look forward to. Remember when Harvey Days were awesome? It feels like another lifetime at this point, but I do.
Or how about when he outdueled Stephen Strasburg at Citi Field and fans started chanting “Harvey’s Better”? Despite how rough the last few years have been — which has included plenty of boos — Harvey still remembers. Sounds like he won’t forget, either, via The Athletic’s Tim Britton.
What was Matt Harvey's favorite moment as a Met?
"One of the pretty surreal moments was sitting in the dugout early in my career and having the "Harvey" chants or "Harvey's better!" That was something you really couldn't dream of as a kid."
— Tim Britton (@TimBritton) August 6, 2018
Harvey’s behavior and/or work ethic definitely appeared to play a role in his fall with the Mets, but the injuries he endured along the way also shouldn’t be ignored. Despite missing the 2014 season due to Tommy John surgery, he had known only one thing since debuting in 2012 through 2015 — straight up dominating the competition and being “the man.”
As things started to deteriorate in 2016 and beyond, it’s almost as if Harvey went through an identity crisis right there on the mound. Upon first coming to the big leagues, he possessed that bulldog mentality with no fear about anything. Once the struggles started coming, you could tell his confidence was nowhere to be found.
When a player has never had to deal with failure on a larger scale at the professional level, it’s tough to handle. Harvey, unfortunately, didn’t handle it the right way, but he did the best he could.
Once again, it’s easy to have strong feelings on one side or the other when the Mets played the following tribute video for the 29-year-old prior to Monday night’s game.
Thank you, Matt. pic.twitter.com/J5PFDmFYbp
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 6, 2018
Either way, let’s not forget about all the warm and fuzzies he invoked throughout the fan base for a number of years. And let’s also not forget that while the mistakes he made didn’t look all that great, he’s human, too. And humans are allowed to make mistakes because they’re not perfect.