Matt Harvey: We Can Only Lament On What Should Have Been – Reflections On Baseball

Matt Harvey - Intrigue and Mystery

At 34, former Mets All-Star Matt Harvey’s baseball career is over. His is not a question of what could have been – it’s what should have been.

We won’t have Matt Harvey to kick around anymore. With a solemn “Thank you and goodbye” yesterday, the Mets former All-Star withdrew himself from the competition as a major league ballplayer.

Over the past nine years, no other Mets player has commanded more stories in this space than Harvey. Because, unlike nearly all professionals in sports, Matt Harvey’s career was never measured in numbers.

Numbers that barely made the grade as a starting pitcher – a pedestrian lifetime record of  50-66, 4.31 ERA – and only one season in which he won more than ten games for the Mets or any of the other four teams he would eventually play for.

Matt Harvey – The Mets Wayward Son

For a time when he was with the Mets, Matt Harvey could only make you wince and cry as he insistently shot himself in the foot, never adapting to the temptations and opportunities offered to anyone who has donned a uniform in New York City.

He was hampered by injuries – yes. But even when he was down and out, Matt Harvey chose the spotlight instead of the work and determination to do what was necessary to return his head and arm where they needed to be.

Fighting the Mets tooth and nail, he refused to remain in Florida where coaches and medical staff were on hand 24/7; Harvey thrust himself into the Mets dugout, idle and useless to his team but always within range of the Mets SNY television cameras and a headline on Page Six of the New York Post.

Matt Harvey - A career on the brink 2020 (Photo: Forbes)
Matt Harvey – A Career on the Brink 2020 (Photo: Forbes)

Famously, after having pitched the game of his life in Game 5 of the 2015 World Series against the Kansas City Royals when he labored through eight magnificent innings, surrendering five hits and two runs while striking out nine.

In an infamous scene in the dugout,  Matt Harvey implored Mets manager Terry Collins to let him take the hill in the ninth inning – only to falter as the Royals took the game 7-2, leaving the Mets in shatters for the rest of the series.

It can be said that Matt Harvey wanted to be Joe Namath and Reggie Jackson in a city that, more often than not, eats those types of players for breakfast while forgetting that Namath and Jackson put the mark on New York with championship titles.

Matt Harvey, it can also be said, confounded the New York Mets. Unlike Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, and Lenny Dykstra – who threw their careers away with cocaine and misguided business adventures while the Mets could only stand by watching them self-destruct – Matt Harvey was coddled and beloved by the Mets and their fans.

All for naught, though, as Matt Harvey believed himself to be bigger than the Mets.

Matt Harvey’s Odd Singular Memory

As covered by the New York Daily News, Harvey’s emotional farewell post featured a photo of the right-hander in a Mets uniform from his magical 2013 season.

“A game I will always remember,” Harvey wrote about April 19, 2013, when he hurled seven innings in a 7-1 win over the Washington Nationals at Citi Field, Stephen Strasburg.

Odd, isn’t it, though, that Harvey would point to this one regular season, and in retrospect, meaningless game over a career that spanned 172 starts, including the postseason.

Decidedly different from an overachiever like Len Dykstra, Matt Harvey had all the tools to make his mark in the Mets’ history, in the same vein as Tom Seaver, Jacob deGrom, and Ron Darling. Alas, it never happened, and in fact, never even came close.

Matt Harvey: Turning The Page To Where?

With the finality of his announcement to retire from baseball, Matt Harvey now begins a new chapter in his life.

From various endorsements, such as his partnership with Axe and his MLB contracts from the Mets, Angels, Royals, and Orioles, the former All-Star is estimated to be worth about $8 million. A mere pittance when you consider the average MLB salary in 2023 is $5 million – for one year.

Matt Harvey - NYC Bachelor Deluxe circa 2014
Matt Harvey – NYC Bachelor Deluxe circa 2014

Dubbed the Dark Knight by New York media, Harvey’s connection to the Mets may or may not have been severed. If there is an interest on the part of the Mets to resume a partnership, it’s hard to imagine where Harvey would fit in.

Assuming a job as a pitching coach is not likely since Harvey’s history of receiving instruction and guidance from his coaches would make for a humorous situation.

In any event, though, it can be assumed that enigmatic Matt Harvey will always hold a special place in Mets fans’ hearts, if not their minds.

For his is a story of not what could have been; it’s a baseball story about what should have been.

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Author: stevecontursi

I am an amateur writer with a passion for baseball and all things Yankees and Mets.