Matt Harvey is going to miss a significant amount of time; not much else is known at this moment.
What has been well-documented however, is just how much of an impact the Dark Knight of Gotham has had on the New York Mets organization and their fans alike.
The mood surrounding this franchise has plunged further and further into disappointment, animosity and frustration ever since Adam Wainwright‘s infamous breaking ball struck the black leather of Yadier Molina‘s mitt. After back-to-back September collapses and pair of sub-par seasons, a change in management brought hope of brighter days, however the immediate years following only became more gut-wrenching. Since Sandy Alderson took over following the 2010 season, fans have had to endure the departures of Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, and R.A. Dickey to name a few; all on the premise of a brighter tomorrow through the procuring of young talent at the expense of the performance at the major league level.
The 2013 season has marked the infusion of those farmhands that have been so long awaited. Zack Wheeler is proving his 2011 acquisition to be worth while. The Amazin’s are already enjoying the fruits of their labor from the Dickey deal with Travis d’Arnaud behind the dish. Following years of development and growth since their mid-teens, Juan Lagares and Wilmer Flores have finally made it to the show. All have been encouraging and enormously exciting to watch, but all pale in comparison to the energy generated by the emergence of Matt Harvey.
In his first full season–sans their ailing, aged ace in Johan Santana–Harvey exploded out of the gate, quickly gaining national attention. By the third week of April, contests in which he started became not a Mets game, but ‘Harvey Day’. Fans amassed in the stands of Citi Field to see the most exciting young pitcher in Queens since 1984, just to get a glimpse of his increasingly legendary “stuff”. By May, the 24-year old flamethrower was plastered on the cover of Sports Illustrated, the first time a player in orange-and-blue had received such an esteem in nearly five years.
From then on it just got better; Harvey could not be stopped. Anytime he went to the mound, a no-hitter was more than possible, three times becoming probable with bids into the seventh inning. Eventually it all came to a pinnacle when Bruce Bochy named the Mets’ ace to the incredibly rare honor of starting the All-Star Game at his home ballpark, going on to put up two goose eggs for the National League including three strikeouts, one of which being the reigning Triple-Crown Winner.
Since the mid-summer classic, the master “plan” of the future has become the present with the arrival of the organization’s top prospects converging on Roosevelt Avenue. ESPN has tagged the Mets as the team of the future in New York; baseball media hubs across the country have begun to recognize the Amazin’s as a club on the rise and no longer in the doldrums of mediocrity.
All was going so well until yesterday when a sobering MRI revealed the ulnar collateral ligament of Harvey lying in his right elbow with a partial tear, crushing many with the very real possibility of the Mets being without one of the game’s best hurlers until 2015.
Until Harvey returns, his absence will be felt in the worst of ways; but his effect on this entire franchise will remain. He has turned another year of “punting” into a season of new beginnings. His performance along with his demeanor has single-handedly altered the culture surrounding the Mets from the second fiddle team of New York to the club to watch out for. The fanbase has wholly changed from beleaguered to stimulated; apathetic to optimistic.
The Mets had to have this year. They desperately needed a season that portrayed direction rather than a ship lost at sea. Matt Harvey has given the Mets that; he has granted them a new look and a new hope, and will return.
The Dark Knight will rise once again. When, we don’t know just yet; but whether that is in one month or twelve, the 2013 season will go down as the year that the corner has officially been turned in Gotham, and that is largely in part to Harvey; and nothing can take that away.
For he truly is the hero not that we deserved, but the one that we needed.