New York City might be big enough for two professional baseball teams, but only one franchise, and in most cases one player, will control the back pages. Last season that man was Derek Jeter. Now that his farewell tour has ended, I wasn’t sure if it ever would, there are two men who will fill that void. Matt Harvey and Alex Rodriguez are poised for a back page battle in their 2015 returns. But as was the case in ‘Highlander’ – there can be only one.
In 2013, Harvey took the league, and city, by storm. You could find him featured in ESPN Magazine: The Body Issue, participating in skits for ‘The Tonight Show’, on the cover of Sports Illustrated, Us Weekly (featuring his breakup with super model Annie V) and sitting courtside at Knicks/Rangers games. Oh, then there was the fact the he started the 2013 All-Star game at Citi Field. Almost forgot about his on the field dominance. Simply put, he was everywhere.
Unfortunately, Harvey’s rise to stardom was derailed by a season-ending elbow injury that led to Tommy John Surgery. Even while he missed the entire 2014 season recovering he grabbed more attention than his active teammates. Now, much of that has to do with the lackluster season the Mets put together. Nonetheless, Harvey has become a walking headline. Every interview, comment, appearance or tweet he made has become back page news.
Harvey’s combination of talent and brash have him on the cusp of taking the throne as King of NY. All eyes will be on him this spring as he returns to the mound.
Then there’s A-ROD. He is one of, if not the, most captivating figure in sports. Given where he stands in today’s media landscape, it’s easy to forget that A-ROD was once one of the most popular players in the game. That was long before he donned the pinstripes. As a young phenomenon he was well on his way to a Hall of Fame career and was on pace to break every record in the book. He earned the largest contract in professional sports history (he would later receive a second deal to top that). His little black book is filled with a “who’s who” of women in Hollywood. Then steroids came into the picture. Accusations occurred, denials were initially made and then apologies were ultimately issued.
A-ROD went on to become a World Series hero and all was forgiven. Or was it? Accusations of PED once again began to occur. A lot of them. Denials were once again made. Then a suspension was handed down. A big one (The largest in baseball history). And once again, an apology was issued. This time in the form of a handwritten note.
Here’s an excerpt:
“I accept the fact that many of you will not believe my apology or anything that I say at this point. I understand why and that’s on me. It was gracious of the Yankees to offer me the use of Yankee Stadium for this apology but I decided the next time I am in Yankee Stadium, I should be in pinstripes doing my job.”
People love to see the mighty crumble. As bad as that may sound, it’s true. Think about every featured story on the news, magazine covers or website homepages. More times than not you won’t be seeing any feel good stories. It’s almost always regarding someones downfall. Hence why these A-ROD scandals have been so widely reported. Sure, his story has become kind of repetitive. He’s almost like watching a rerun on TV. You’ve already seen the episode. But you enjoyed it so much the first time around that you decided to watch it again. Sound familiar?
I don’t care how many monuments the Yankees give out this season. A-ROD is the only Yankee story people care about.
The media aren’t the only ones excited for A-ROD’s return. Earlier this week Harvey himself said “If he is that dedicated and wants to come back then more power to him for going up to the organization like that, it shows a lot,” Harvey told the NY Post. “It will be exciting to see what he can do.”
No one epitomized a baseball player better than Derek Jeter. But I found myself becoming bored with him during those dog days of summer last season. I craved that polarizing figure. Someone who has a bit of a flair to him. I missed Matt Harvey. And at times, I can’t believe I’m saying this, I missed A-ROD..
Both The Mets and Yankees are projected to be in the playoff hunt this year, but neither are considered favorites. It’s been a while since these two were on roughly an even playing field. While winning is crucial in NY, it is considered almost equally as important to win those back pages. A-ROD, for both his on and (mostly) off the field actions, could be the Yankees only hope in this battle. While Matt Harvey will try to solidify himself as the new face of baseball in NY.
In what was an otherwise abysmal weekend in Colorado, the Mets were able to avoid being swept with a win on Sunday. Dillon Gee led the way, pitching 6+ scoreless innings in the hitter friendly confines of Coors Field.
The Mets came into Colorado riding high, going 15-11 in the opening month of the season. After exciting the fan base with their early play, things quickly changed against the Rockies. The first two games of the series were a complete wash, as the Rockies offense dominated Mets pitching and the bats went cold. In game three, the Mets offense came to life, but the pitching continued to struggle. After Juan Lagares put the Mets ahead by one run late, Kyle Farnsworth blew the save opportunity as the Mets suffered a crushing loss.
This made Sundays game all the more important. It wasn’t just that the Mets lost those three games, but how they lost them. Someone needed to step up and stop the bleeding, cue Dillon Gee. With yesterdays win, he improved to 3-1 on the year with a 2.51 ERA. The starting pitching has been the Mets strength, but do they have a real ace on this team? This rotation has been strong across the board, but none of them have taken that next level of dominating the competition. There isn’t anything wrong with that as long as they keep winning, that’s all that really matters. But when it comes time to win that one game when the Mets really need it, who is that arm going to be? Gee is making a case that he is that guy. Continue reading
The Mets made it official yesterday and announced Dillon Gee as their opening day starter. There had been grumblings about this for about a week or so now, so this news comes as a shock to no one.
Opening Day is all about a fresh start for a team and their fan base, a new beginning with endless possibilities. No matter how bad your team was last season, everyone comes into Opening Day with a glimmer of hope. For the Mets, our hope relies on our young starting pitching. Obviously this start we have been given to Harvey if healthy, but he’s not. Syndergaard became the story of spring training, but he won’t be seeing Citi Field until the summer. Dillon Gee, while reliable and effective, does not represent one of these talents, Zack Wheeler dos.
Wheeler, the prized return in the Carlos Beltran trade, has been looked upon as a building block since his arrival. Wheeler showed signs of his potential dominance and had us thinking he could be a major factor in leading this team back to the playoffs. This is the man who brings that promise and excitement with him each time he takes the mound, Wheeler needed to be given this start.
I’m not trying to knock on Dillon Gee, I’m actually a big fan of his. I believe he is a great piece to go along with the young power arms of Harvey, Syndergaard and Wheeler in the future rotation. If he can slide in as the team’s future #4 or #5 starter, I couldn’t be happier with that situation. Gee reminds me of a young Rick Reed, he doesn’t throw overly hard, but he moves the ball around and changes speeds to keep batters off-balance. Gee always keeps the Mets in the ballgame, but his style doesn’t exactly rile up the fans.
The Mets really missed the boat on this one, Wheeler’s presence alone would have been significant with one of our “big three” leading the way in 2014. In any case, this won’t matter in the long run of the season, but it would have added to the anticipation of what could come this year.
Stephen Strasburg has offered up some advice for the rehabbing Matt Harvey: Take it slow. Strasburg, was in Harvey’s same position just a few years ago. He took the league by storm upon his arrival in 2010, but it was short-lived by season ending surgery that cost him a full year. Strasburg’s situation is eerily similar to Harvey, whose domination was abruptly ended by an elbow injury last season.
Strasburg shared these words from his experiences “It can flip on you,’’ He said of the rehab process. “You’ll feel great one day and the next day it’s terrible. The best advice I got was, ‘Look where you were at the start of the month and then at the end of the month. Don’t look at where you were yesterday.’ ”
Harvey and Strasburg are each represented by super agent Scott Boras, Strasburg offered to help out the fellow Boras client if he needs it “I told Scott, if Matt ever needs anything, call me,’’ Strasburg said. “I’ve been through it. I know by judging how hard he works he should be, hopefully, fine.’’
Unfortunately, Harvey initially opted to rest his elbow in hopes of recovering the natural way. After a few months of deliberating and receiving some further medical opinions, he opted for Tommy John surgery in October. Despite Harvey’s mindset on returning in late 2014, that goal seems unlikely as the Mets will be cautious with their young ace.
In any case, I can’t wait to watch these two go head-to-head next season. I was fortunate enough to be at the game last year when a “Harvey’s better” chant broke out as he out-dueled Strasburg in Citi Field. Don’t remember? Here’s a reminder of how awesome that night was.
Mets ace Matt Harvey was cleared today by his medical team to begin throwing a baseball. Harvey is only four months removed from Tommy John surgery, but this news marks the first step in his goal of returning to the mound. This is great news for both Harvey and the Mets, now we have to be patient with our 24-year-old.
“Since it is four months out, the process is going to be slow. I have to not push things.” Harvey said, regarding his discussion with his doctor “He just wanted to make sure I knew that and I was clear with that. Obviously we’re not going to push things early. But, for me, being able to wear my glove and pick up a ball again is a good sign.”
Harvey has publicly stated his desire to do his rehab work in NY, most rehabbing players spend their time in Port St. Lucie, but he would like to be closer to his home. This would also allow him to be with the team during home stands, where he could bond with his younger teammates and continue to learn the league from the bench. Everything about that sounds great, but will this ultimately turn into a distraction?
In only a short amount of time, Harvey has taken this city by storm. When he emerged late in the 2012 season, he quickly caught the eye of Mets fans and the rest of baseball. But it was his 2013 campaign really put him on the map as a star in the making. He was featured in a Jimmy Fallon show skit, could be seen on celebrity row for countless Rangers games, did a tabloid grabbing interview for GQ Magazine, dated Super-Model Anne V and oh yeah, was the starting pitcher for the All-Star Game at Citi Field. Harvey became one of the hottest athletes in NYC, everyone wanted a piece of him.
Personally, I don’t care what Harvey does off the field, as long as it doesn’t affect his performance on the mound. I only raise this questions because I know there will be certain media outlets and reporters who will make it their mission to question his work ethic this season. Last season was different, you could find him on the mound every 5th day, no matter what else he did that week. Now, he won’t be throwing off the mound in Citi Field, and many will be ready to jump at the opportunity to question his lifestyle during his rehab process.
Harvey does seem to be very mature for his age, just watch one interview and you will be shocked by his poise at such a young age. But every once in a while he surprises me with his actions, for example his GQ interview last season. Whether he was misquoted or thought he was speaking off the record, you have to be smarter than that. These guys are not your friend, they are using you to make a name for themselves. Or more recently, when WFAN’s Joe Benigo expressed his concerns for Harvey’s off the field headlines on air, Harvey became defensive and attacked these remarks via twitter while on vacation in Thailand. The only reason this story gathered any buzz was because of Harvey’s response. If something like that can trigger him while he is on vacation, imagine what it will be like when he is dealing with these questions in New York.
No one should question Harvey’s desire and determination to get back on the mound to help the Mets win. He has already thrown around the idea of trying to pitch down the stretch this season. Although this doesn’t sound to be a plausible plan, it’s that kind of attitude that has won over the fans. If I’m the Mets, I would be playing up his rehab throughout the season. Maybe have a crew monitoring his workouts and make it a feature on Mets Weekly. When the team is on road trips, I would throw him in the study and let him give insight on the games. Things like this will help keep him both in the spotlight and mentally focused on his return.
“I’d always love to pitch and get back out there, but I don’t make those decisions,” Harvey said regarding a return in 2014. “I can only stay with the doctors and prepare to the best of my ability. If things can work out quicker than normal, then we’ll see. But I can’t make that call. … I haven’t really talked to them in-depth about that. I know they don’t want me to push, and I’m definitely not going to force things to happen earlier. If they happen to come quicker, then that’s where we’re going to go.”
As Jerry Seinfeld recently stated, the Mets finally have a “cool guy”. Harvey has all the intangibles to be a star both on and off the field, he just has to remain committed to what got him there in the first place. I don’t foresee Harvey doing anything personally to make his rehab a distraction, I worry more about his reaction to the media that will be out to get him. If he is able to go about his business and keep reporters out of his mind, Harvey should be just fine.
But please, stop teasing us with these pitching in 2014 remarks. You’re surgery broke our hearts enough, don’t tease us like that.
It appears the Mets young ace is back on the market. It has been widely reported today that Matt Harvey and super model girlfriend Anne V have broken up. To read any gossip news about the end of their relationship feel free to read here.
As I have previously written, What Matt Harvey does off the field doesn’t bother me, as long as he continues to perform when he takes the mound. I really don’t care for this sort of news, it really does nothing for me. The only thing I hopes comes out of this, besides more tabloid headlines, is that Harvey will not be 100% committed to his rehab.
I know he has stated in the past few weeks that his goal is to return to the mound by the end of the 2014 season. While that is not a reasonable expectation for Mets fans to have, it’s that kind of attitude and drive to succeeded that we have quickly grown to love.
Let’s be realistic about this Anne V news, she might be the first girlfriend to help him grab the tabloids, but odds are she won’t be the last. Hopefully he follows more in David Wright and Derek Jeter’s footsteps and not AROD’s when it comes to his love life.
Jonathon Niese reportedly has two rehab starts remaining before he is ready to rejoin the team. The 26-year-old lefty has been on the DL with a partially torn rotator cuff since June 21. His health, and return to form, are going to be crucial for the Mets success going forward.
Niese is part of the young core of starting pitchers that Sandy Alderson is looking to build this team around. The Mets signed him to a five-year extension after going 13-9 with a 3.40 era in 2012. He appeared to be reaching his potential and looked to be a front of the line starter for years to come.
But, Niese got off to a rocky start in 2013, posting a 3-6 record with a 4.32 era. This was looking more and more like a regression season, leaving many to question just what do the Mets really have in Niese? Then his shoulder issue became public. It was feared intially that he would need surgery. Thankfully, for his own and the Mets sake, it would only require rest to heal his partial tear.
Now Niese will look to prove his early season woes were due merely to injury. These next two months will be important for the Mets to see if their core rotation of Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jonathon Niese and lets trow Dillon Gee in there as well, can come together down the stretch. With the recent promotion of Jenry Mejia, there is no lack of youthful talent on this roster.
Rafael Montero, despite his recent AAA struggles, could be looking at a September call up as well. Noah Syndergaard, who was an after thought of sorts in the Dickey trade, is also getting more and more high praise with every start he makes.
However, all of these young arms are right-handed, except Jon Niese. That is what makes him so important to this team. It is not necessary, by all means, that you have a lefty in your rotation. But it certainly does help to have one or two on your staff throwing from the other side to give teams a different look throughout a series.
I expect Niese to bounce back when he returns. He has come a long way since he was first called up to the majors and possesses all the stuff to make him a quality pitcher. It was unknown early in his career just what his ceiling is as a starter, I see him sliding back in as the teams number 2 upon his return. But as time goes on, and some of these other young arms develop, I believe Niese will slot himself right in the middle of the rotation.
The Mets may not be making a playoff push this year, but these next two months could be a telling sign of where this rotation can take this franchise in the years to come.