There really is something special about going to Citi Field on a day when Matt Harvey pitches.
If the Mets are in the midst of yet another miserable season, you’d never know it. Walking into Friday’s game, the excitement and buzz over the main attraction was truly overwhelming. Families and friends all bustled towards the main gate eager to be seated and ready for the game’s very first heated pitch.
A simple glance at the back of most jerseys settles any doubt; there is just one reason why most fans were here and his name and number are displayed proudly across their backs.
The one and only Matt Harvey – No. 33 – is the reason for all this excitement. No. 33 is the cause for all this commotion. And clearly faced with another disastrous season, No. 33 is the reason for hope.
After once again being beaten down by what is becoming another unsuccessful year, the hopeful and faithful Met fans turned out in droves to watch what many believe is the future of the franchise make his 17th start of the season.
On a day when Matt Harvey pitches, everything seems different. From the very onset of the game the aura surrounding the park is noticeably altered. People are here to watch some exciting baseball, they are here to watch the team win, and they are here to see Matt Harvey.
As the game began, fans eagerly shuffled through the aisles in an attempt to find their seats. As the starting lineups were announced many stopped in their tracks to scream their appreciation as the game’s starting pitcher was announced; cheers of appreciation that are usually reserved only for the teams faithful captain.
Everywhere you turned there was another Harvey jersey. Citi Field was filled with appreciation for the 24-year old ace, roaring with tribute whenever his name was mentioned. His support was unbounded, as a deafening flurry of cheers would pour forth from the crowd even when Harvey stepped up to the plate. And if his bat failed him, a crackle of cheers would spread through the stands in appreciation of his effort alone.
It was a rainy evening, but that certainly didn’t hinder the mass of supporters who came to see the phenom of Flushing make a spectacle of the Washington Nationals. As water drizzled from the sky, fans sat diligently, almost quietly, intent on consuming every precious minute of the impeccable performance of Harvey.
The excitement rose when Harvey struck out the very first batter, Denard Span, to begin the game; it was clear that the Harvey everyone paid to see had shown up once again.
After every strikeout, and there were many, 11 Ks to be exact, the crowd would roar, chanting and screaming their admiration for the young star they love so much. Relatively quiet and reserved fans were transformed into fanatics as their passion overwhelmed them. Old men could be seen high-fiving their beer-wielding counterparts, families celebrated together jumping and hugging out of excitement and joy, even the lonesome diehard who came to intently study the performance could be seen cracking a smile and joining in the jubilation.
The excitement only grew as the game went on. The supportive calls of “Let’s Go Mets” were mixed in with stadium-wide chants screaming “Lets Go Harvey” which lingered in the air, collectively resurfacing until the game’s very end.
And while the support for Harvey was strong and almost overwhelming, the Mets fans were unified through it. There was no divide splitting support over talent or level of attention. The entirety of the crowd sat in awe as Harvey skillfully cut through seven innings giving up only one run and three hits.
The buzz was contagious, and the appreciation of his ability was widespread. It rallied Mets fans and got them on their feet. Something they all desperately needed. Every ball that was hit, or catch that was made was met with an elevated level of excitement. The fans were into the game. It may not have meant much in the standings, but it certainly mattered to them.
When the bullpen let the game slip away, the park was filled with billowing boos. But there was something different about them. When you’re the fan of a team that’s currently eleven games under .500 and showing all signs of missing that mark for the fifth consecutive year, you become familiar with the heartbreak of a loss. And yet the fans let their disappointment be known with malice and disdain. It was a unifying feeling, watching a sea of supporters burst out with anger not for themselves, but as a showing of support for the pitcher who deserved to win.
Matt Harvey did the crowd justice. He came out once again, throwing with all his heart and putting on a show worthy of any baseball fan’s attention, and yet he didn’t receive the win. The fans knew he had done his job, they knew he gave them more than they could ever ask for, and if he couldn’t lash out in anger over another blown game, then they would for him.