Matt Harvey: The Dark Knight

Written by: Joe Ryan

Twitter: @joeywingspan 

Twitter:  @wingspansports  (follow for all your Sports needs by clicking the @wingspansports handle given there) (we’ll follow back, you won’t regret it)

For the longest time, us Mets fans craved a new regime, a superstar, a hero. We craved a Dark Knight.

As Mets fans, we suffered, we’ve been embarrassed. There was no light at the end of the tunnel for us. For the longest time, we were the laughing stock of the MLB.

Sure, we had pieces that we could build around. David Wright was your prototypical MLB superstar. Every day he went about his business, never did anything wrong and dominated. Murphy was a nice player to build around, Duda had hope and so on and so on. None of these players portrayed the killer instinct. The instinct where, no one is better than me. Its me vs you, us vs them mentality. At least, it was never shown.

The Mets were going no where with that attitude and from 2007-2012, the Mets hit rock bottom. The city and the fan based deprived of a killer superstar. How could there be no one out there to save such a depleted team?

The Dark Knight is Born:

And then, the Mets had their killer instinct. On Jul 26th, 2012, the Dark Knight was born. The Mets have a brand new identity.

In his Major League debut, Matt Harvey struck out 11 hitters in 5.1 innings pitched. An unheard of amount of strikeouts in such a short outing. And then the continued success over the 2012 season continued for the Mets and Harvey. A star was born, but more importantly, the Mets found a player with killer instincts. The Mets found their superstar.

There was never a game in which Matt Harvey took the mound and thought he wouldn’t go out there and dominate. It just didn’t cross his mind. He was was that good. Sure, he was cocky and he had every right to be. He knew he had a whole team and city to carry on his back and for a while, he did just that.

In 2013, the Mets were relevant and all thanks to Matt Harvey. Every time #33 would step on the mound, it seemed like the whole sports world stopped. It was Matt Harvey this Matt Harvey that. Happy Harvey Day became a national holiday every five days in the summer. If you rooted for another team, you were tuning in to see what Harvey was bringing to the table that day. For the first time in 6 years, the Mets were relevant. They weren’t relevant every day, but every five days, the baseball world cared about the Mets. And for us fans, that was a huge stepping stone.

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In 2013, the Dark Knight was rising. He wasn’t there yet, but he was rising. Citi Field was hosting the All-Star game and you guessed it, Matt Harvey was named the NL starting pitcher. Again, putting the Mets on the map. To no surprise, Harvey dominated the American League lineup over 2 innings, in front of screaming Mets fans. The first time Citi Field was fully packed. With Matt Harvey on the mound, dominating a great lineup, and Citi Field crowded, Mets fans could finally see the future. They could see this happening in October. But, at the time it was still just a dream.

The Dark Knight falls:

 Being a Mets fan, nothing ever comes easy. We know that. So at the time, we knew how good Harvey was, but of course, there’s always a but. After bursting out onto the scene in 2012 and 2013, the Mets had high hopes for the 2014 season. With Harvey leading the way, Wright still dominating and we had good, young prospects waiting in the wing. Can this team finally burst onto the scene and make the playoffs?

It was more wishful thinking.

At the end of the 2013 season, it was announced that Matt Harvey had a partial tear in his UCL. A surgery that would require Tommy John and making Harvey miss the entire 2014 season.

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The 2014 season was already a wash and we all knew it as fans. The Mets were going no where without him and we would always tell ourselves, “There is always next year!”

But, the thing with Tommy John is we don’t know. Tommy John is a major surgery for pitchers. Will there be a next season for Matt Harvey? Will he ever be as good? Can he ever be a 1 starter again? All these thoughts and speculations filled the minds of Mets fans and the baseball world. But that’s the thing, we truly didn’t know. It was up to the Dark Knight. He was down and out for the count, but could he get up, work his way back and continue his mission of saving Gotham?

The Dark Knight Rises:

We had no idea what was going to happen in the 2015 season. Sure, the Mets had potential, like always. deGrom was becoming a star, Syndergaard was almost ready to be called up, our offense seemed capable and of course, after missing an entire year, Matt Harvey was returning. And just like we knew in 2014, this Mets team lived and died on Matt Harvey.  If he was good, we were good.

And Matt Harvey was freaking good.

In an absolute roller coaster of a season in 2015, the one constant was Matt Harvey. Not only did Matt Harvey come back the same before the Tommy John surgery, somehow, someway, Harvey got better. Happy Harvey day was back.

Matt Harvey was back.

The Mets were back.

After posting a 13-8 record and a 2.71 ERA, Matt Harvey was awarded the National Comeback Player of the Year and dominated the National League.

But that didn’t matter. The awards don’t matter. What matter to Matt Harvey was creating a legacy.

With the first opportunity to clinch the NL East and their first playoff spot since 2006, Matt Harvey shut the door.

The Dark Knight clinched the division for the Mets when he went 6.2 innings, allowing 2 runs and striking out 6. There is no coincidence that the person who get the Mets over the hump, was the person who made the Mets relevant again.

But, he wasn’t done. The journey was far from over.

The postseason is where legends are born. And the Dark Knight was ready for the challenge. Again, there was no coincidence that the first person to start the first ever playoff game in Citi Field history was, Matt Harvey.

In 4 playoff games, Harvey posted a 2-0 record with a 3.04 ERA. A complete domination of October baseball. And of course, like only Matt Harvey knows how, he saved his best games for the most important games.

Game 1 of the NLCS against the Cubs was the most important game of the season. It was a game that set the tone for the rest of the series. What team was going to step up and punch the other team in the mouth so hard that they couldn’t recover for the rest of the series.

Who else would Mets fans want pitching that game other than the man with the Killer instincts that reinvented this team, Matt Harvey?

And Matt Harvey punched the Cubs in the mouth.

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In 7.2 innings pitched, Harvey struck out 9 hitters, let up 2 runs and the Mets won the game 4-2. The Dark Knight knocking out the Cubs in game 1 as the Mets went on to sweep the Cubs. The punch that Harvey landed, was the knockout.

The Mets were National League Champions, winning their first pennant since 2000. The Mets were headed to the World Series, and Matt Harvey played a huge role in getting us there.

What If… 

Matt Harvey was never supposed to pitch in the postseason. After Tommy John surgery, Matt Harvey was only supposed to pitch 175-185 innings that year. But when the Mets started to get hot and take control of the division, there was no way Matt Harvey was going to shut it down, like some loser pitcher in Washington. Harvey cared about the fans, the team and the city. Harvey pitched 215+ innings that year, completely overriding doctor decisions and putting his career on the line, because he wanted to get this team to the World Series.

The most heartbreaking of them all. After giving it all, the Mets were down 3-1 in the World Series against the Royals. One more loss and the Mets season comes to an end and their World Series dreams are over.

But, the Mets had one more chance.

Matt Harvey.

In one of the biggest games in Mets history, in the most electric environment Citi Field has ever witnessed, Harvey did this.

No, Harvey didn’t finish the job. He ran outta gas. He gave the Mets and us fans everything he had. If one throw home was on target, this start is talked about as one of the best starts in baseball history, considering the circumstances. Because it was. This game will, unfortunately, always define Harvey’s career and it should be for what he did over 8+ innings, not for the inning in which the Mets collapsed.

The man put the Mets on his back and tried to put the entire city on his back. Unfortunately, as only New York could do, broke a superstar player instead of bringing him back up.

The Royals won the World Series and the Mets returned back to normalcy.

But, thanks to #33, for an era, the Mets were the talk of the town.

The End…

Over the next 2+ years, we know what happened. Another major surgery, some off the field issues and struggling to pitch at a high level due to the rigorous work done on his pitching arm. After the TOC surgery, Harvey has gone through 2 of the worst surgeries in a pitchers career. Sure, the second one can be because of overworking himself in 2015 but the reason that is was to bring us to the World Series.

I wish people would realize that. I wish when people would say that he is cocky or didn’t care about the fans, people would realize that if he shut it down in 2015, he could still be so dominant today. If he didn’t pitch in the postseason, Harvey could still be a top pitcher. But he risked it all for us. He risked the $200 million contract, the super-stardom, the Hall of Fame talent, all for a chance for a title. He risked it all. I’m sorry, how is that selfish? To me, that is caring to much.

You want to know why the Washington Nationals can’t get past the NLDS? It’s because Stephen Strasburg shuts it down at the end of the year.

Want to know why the Mets won a pennant? Matt Harvey decided to put us on his back.

Whatever team I root for, I will never root against my own player. Sure, I’ll get mad if they don’t perform at a high level, but I will never root against a player. If they’re wearing my favorite teams uniform, I will ride with them. Their ups, and especially their downs, I will root for them, because I am a fan.

For people out there, rooting for a player on your team to fail, that’s disgraceful. That’s the furthest thing from being a fan. You ride with your players through and through. And us Mets fans, we don’t. We throw them under the bus until the next guy. And to me, what player would ever want to play for a fan base like that?

Through everything, Matt Harvey has always been my favorite player and he will continue to be my favorite player. I can’t thank him enough for what he did for the Mets.

The Dark Knight rose for the New York Mets.

Thank you Harv, and God Bless!

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