The Last Dark Knight: The Fall of Matt Harvey (#ThirtyScenesInThirty Days: Day 16)
I've established that these are scenes from film and television, but the World Series is televised as fuck and it's my hashtag and I make the rules, yeah? Okay.
So, if I were to go ahead and break the rule of this whole thing and talk about a real-world cinematic sporting event revolving around my beloved New York Mets, one would think I'd go with an obvious landmark in their history -- like the Bill Buckner play, or the Mike Piazza post-9/11 home run, or the rise of man-alive Daniel Murphy.
But I need to share with all you other suffering fans of the Metropolitans why I think this is, quite possibly, my favorite Mets game ever. To he uninitiated, here's a little backstory...
Matt Harvey came up in the second half of the 2012 season to the most uninspiring bunch of humps. Over the next year, Harvey became the face of the Mets, mowing down hitters while establishing the swinging-dick playboy persona that is being the exclusive it-athlete in New York City. With Derek Jeter in the twilight of his career, the potential of the heir-apparent being a Met was invigorating.
Then his elbow popped. Tommy John surgery ensued. Hey, he was a Met -- what in the hell did you expect?! #FireRayRamirez
Harvey came back strong in 2015. Fast-forward to the playoffs where his partying and in-season weight-gain was shined in a spotlight. There were public distractions about innings-limits and his no-showing to practice. By the time the postseason started, I had grown sick of his act.
Then came Game 5 of the World Series... with he Metsies down 3 games to 1, Harvey took the mound in a do or die game. A win would send them back to Kansas City, where they would have Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard on the hill for the potential games 6 and 7.
There's something so cinematic about this game. Harvey was throwing darts, the pop of the mitt after every pitch, followed by the collective "YEAH" roaring through the crowd of orange rally-towel waving animals at Citifield exploded through our television. Royals hitters look baffled, lost, and intimidated. The Dark Knight of Gotham had risen to the occasion.
As his pitch count crept up, we all wondered how deep into the game he would go. With a 2-0 lead headed into the 8th, he hit the 100 pitch mark, as closer Juerys Familia warmed up in the bullpen. Harvey set down the Royals 1-2-3.
In defense of manager Terry Collins, there wasn't a Mets fan on the planet who didn't want Harvey to come out and finish that game.
Then he scene in the dugout happened: Pitching coach Dan Warthen came to Harvey to let him know he'll be taken out in favor of the closer. Before he could finish his sentence, Harvey started barking, "No way! No way" before brushing him off to go talk to the boss. He stomps right over to Collins... "No way! Now way! I'm going back out there! I'm going back out there!"
And he does. The bottom of the 8th ended as Familia stood in the bullpen, warmed up and ready to go. The Citifield DJ appropriately waited a few beats as the 44,859 Mets faithful held their collective breath. The first strums of "Seven Nation Army" by the White Stripes played, some Mets trickled onto the field, then, like a bad-guy wrestler, Harvey stormed out of the dugout and charged towards the mound. Citifield went APESHIT. We all went APESHIT from our couches and barstools.
The chants of "HAR-VEY" reigned down. The man was living the greatest childhood dream. Bottom of the ninth of the World Series, with your team facing elimination, and you have an entire city chanting your name -- New York City, no less. Not only that, but you missed an entire season after having surgery, then couldn't stay off the back-pages for your behavior, the fan-base had nearly washed its hands of you -- and here you are, having won them the hell back, had the vinegar in your balls to essentially tell your boss to fuck himself and that you're finishing the game, and you're about to send your team back to Kansas City with a win. A win that you CARRIED on your back. It's the ULTIMATE redemption story. And with the stubborn, "fuck you, I'm doing this" matter in which he did it, it's the ultimate NEW YORK redemption story.
If it's the end of a sports film, a cheesy one anyway, Harvey strikes out the side and the Mets head back to KC, take games 6 and 7 and claim their first world title since 1986.
But these are the Mets, and this ain't a movie.
Harvey walked Lorenzo Cain to start the 9th. Collins, chewing on his pen and pacing in the dugout, kept him in to face one more batter. That batter was Eric Hosmer's eyebrows, who hit an opposite-field shot over the head of Michael Conforto, putting the tying run on 2nd with nobody out.
Collins ran out there almost as fast as Harvey did five minutes prior. He was done for the night. Familia came in, and, well, you know the rest. (If you don't know what happened, look it up on Youtube. I don't have the stomach to type it out.)
The Mets lost the series 4-1 to the Royals and went into the 2016 season with high expectations. They surprisingly made the playoffs as a Wild Card team, but Harvey, like the bulk of their prized rotation, underperformed and went down with a season-ending injury.
As I typed this, I received an alert on my phone saying he'll miss several weeks with a stress injury to the scapula bone in his right shoulder. Maybe this is an encouraging sign. Maybe this injury explains the 4-3 record with a 5.25 ERA in 13 starts. Maybe this explains the utter lack of confidence on the mound. I mean, the body language says it all. He's completely lost. What happened to the asshole who came up and wanted the ball deep into the ninth inning? I miss that asshole. He was OUR asshole.
Whatever happens with Matt Harvey, this story is writing itself. As each start goes by, our hope for that old Harvey to come back grows slim. Tabloids and sports writers are already referring to him as the "former ace". The rise is there, we saw it happen on that crisp November evening in 2015. The fall is happening right before our eyes. Shit, it may have began when he gave up that leadoff walk to Lorenzo Cain. Every inch of me hoped that he was simply humbled. That doesn't appear to be the case.
I will tell you -- I'm rooting for another Harvey redemption story. And I believe he has another comeback in him. I gotta. I'm a Mets fan.