I love the Mets. A lot. Quick story, I once refused to visit my Mom in the hospital (it was only a routine procedure) because it was Opening Day and I reasoned that I could see her everyday whereas I could only see Johan Santana pitch maybe 35 times this year if I was lucky.
At the same time, I’m very realistic about the franchise, prospects for the future and what has been accomplished in the past. And, truth is, not much has been accomplished in the past.
Two World Series championships, only a handful of playoff appearances and another small handful of truly great players in moments in over 50 years of existence.
Sure, there have been some good times, but most times being a Mets fan is absolutely miserable. Which is why so many of us this year are doing the most unreasonable things (which says a lot) we’ve ever done as a fan: pin the entirety of our hopes and dreams to the back of a pitcher with 12 career wins.
Is that even right? Twelve? Fuck, I could have sworn Harvey won like 36 games, threw 4 no-hitters, legalized gay marriage and captured Joseph Kony just in 2013. I mean, I sort of remember that. Until he was ambushed by the ligament gnomes and needed Tommy John and effectively kicked Mets fans in the beebles by taking away the one good thing we had to watch.
So why is a meaningless spring training game selling out and tix on the secondary market going for double face value in Port St. Luice today? Because some guy with 12 career wins was going to throw two innings.
Matt Harvey is what the Mets franchise has had in only the smallest of doses in their history. Greatness. Or, at least, the potential for greatness. We’ve seen it…some of it. A bit of it? What exactly was it?
There have been two great players in the history of the Mets. Two. I don’t care what the rest of you think or say. There’s Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza. Maybe I’ll accept a case for Carlos Beltran, but that’s it. Some didn’t do it long enough and others were of the mere “very good” variety.
That’s why Matt Harvey is so important. Most of us have never seen what we think Matt Harvey is (was? could be?) in our lifetimes in a Mets uniform. Seaver was long past his prime and only attempting a last ditch comeback by the time I could vaguely understand baseball as a kid, but I was lucky enough to live through the Piazza years. But it’s been almost a full decade since Mike’s last game in orange and blue (and that horrid black) and with only one playoff appearance, the indignities of back to back collapses to close Shea, the Ponzi scheme and the opening of a brand new ballpark that was explicitly Mets-free except for the Butch Huskey Rotunda, we
have been clamoring for something, anything to just grab on to and wave the banner. We like talent, we like swagger, we like attitude. We like Matt Harvey.
As good as David Wright has been since coming to the major leagues, he’s never been that star attraction. He’s never been that lead guy. Good guy, good ballplayer. I mean, I like him, yeah, but he doesn’t get you excited. David Wright doesn’t make your imagination run wild with the possibility of seeing something amazing. He’s just a good who’s pretty damn good at doing his job. Which is fine.
In 2013, Matt Harvey made us think that he could do something we may never see in every game. Whether it was taking a no-hitter deep against the Twins or a perfect game deep against the White Sox or the way he ignored a nosebleed that one time and just kept his game face on, you just knew that this was the guy. This was THE fucking guy. The guy you want on your team, the one who gave a shit just as much as you did.
Matt Harvey throwing 25 pitches on March 6th was blowing up my twitter feed. We’re hungry for this guy. We need him to be what he looked like he was going to be before the surgery. Matt Harvey allows us to dream that better days are ahead of the Mets. Days where winning baseball is the norm because the Dark Knight of Gotham will accept nothing less. His mere presence on a field today sparked excitement, reckless imagining and ticket sales.
So I fell into the trap and allowed myself to be excited that Matt Harvey, the greatest pitcher in history with only 12 career wins, was going to lead my favorite team through the fires of hell and provide me with 14 virgins because of the way he retired six hitters in a spring training game. I’m OK with that. Because that’s what being a fan is. And after years of crushed hopes and inter-city inadequacy, Paul Wilson, Alex Ochoa, Bill Pulispher, et al, we finally have Matt Harvey. And if he’s healthy and has what we think we remember seeing him have in 2013, he’s not just the hero we need, he’s the one we deserve.