Matt Harvey has been compared to some of the biggest names of the game both past and present. Whether it’s because of his lethal arsenal, his no-nonsense demeanor on the mound, or just his determination to keep getting better. In 14 starts he is breaking down long-standing records with such ease.
While expectations and pressure like that would crush most young players, Matt Harvey thrives on it. I was especially taken by his reaction on Friday night when fans at Citi Field roared with the chants of “Har-Vey’s Better! Har-Vey’s Better” with every pitch Stephen Strasburg threw.
It was amazing to watch both pitcher’s reactions as the SNY camera crew went to a split screen. There was Harvey sitting on the bench – looking all business and wiping his face with a towel. He was immune to what was happening on the field and didn’t allow himself to be captured by the moment. On the mound however, you could tell Strasburg was being rattled.
Pressure and expectations is a crazy thing. For many players it’s their death knell, but not for Harvey. This kid has ice running through his veins.
There’s more to Harvey than meets the eye and it may take years until we figure out what makes him tick. Baseball has always been a game of comparisons, but most often the comparisons are unfounded and the expectations are never met. So far, it looks like Harvey will be the exception to that rule. Gregg Jefferies never did become the next Ty Cobb, and the teenage hitting machine Fernando Martinez never did become the next Roberto Clemente.
You know what else stood out from Friday night? Harvey’s comments after the game.
“I’ve got a long way to go,’’ Harvey said. “I appreciate the fans and the support and all that. But we’re here to win. We’re the New York Mets. It’s not just one guy out there. Every time I take the ball I’m trying to win for the team.”
Spoken like a true leader…
And for those of you who keep saying you want to see how Harvey would react in a tough situation, how does the the bases loaded with nobody out against the team who won more games than any other team last season sound? Is that challenging enough for you?
Harvey worked out of the jam with ease. “That’s a tough lineup, he said. “At any point it felt like it could unravel and things could have gone the other way.’’
However it didn’t unravel. Harvey bore down like a warrior and slammed the door on their offense. “That’s the mark of an ace right there,’’ Collins said. “That’s why we can’t say enough things about him. Games like this can lead to a great season.”
Can you believe that there are still some Mets fan who haven’t bought into Harvey yet? It’s true. I’ve seen the doubts and speculation right here on our comment threads. They remain cautiously optimistic waiting for the bubble to burst. It’s hard to believe that 14 starts or basically a half season, and non-believers still abound.
I’m seeing some of the best raves and optimism about Harvey from non-Mets and rival fans. One Yankee fan told Me, “I can’t believe you got, Harvey. You’re so freaking lucky.”
David Price and Curt Schilling are also on the Matt Harvey bandwagon. So are Michael Kay and Mike Francesa. So are Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman. So are R.A. Dickey, Jon Lester and Justin Verlander.
So am I and most of MMO. I actually have been since day one.
I’ve seen a meteoric rise like one this twice before as Met fan. The first time was with with “The Franchise” Tom Seaver, and then two decades later I saw it again with “Doctor K’ Dwight Gooden. I became emotionally invested from day with those two Mets icons too, just like I am now with Harvey. As a Met fan, I always did take “Ya Gotta Believe” very seriously. Times have changed, but I’m still old-fashioned that way.