Oct 08

Darling Misses Plate On Latest Harvey Mess

Normally, I enjoy Ron Darling’s insight on baseball and the Mets. I think he’s one of the best in the business. However, this time we deserved better from him when it came to weighing in on the latest Matt Harvey fiasco.

I thought Darling and his mates on SNY – Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez – let Harvey off easy during the innings limit drama by taking the path of least resistance and blaming agent Scott Boras. However, Boras wasn’t a factor in Harvey being late to Tuesday’s workout at Citi Field, but what do you know, Darling again passed on blasting the Mets’ diva ace.

DARLING:  Should have told us more.

DARLING: Should have told us more.

“It’s really hard for me to criticize [Harvey],’’ Darling told Newsday. “Half our team didn’t make the [1986 World Series] parade. … We had guys who barely showed up to games. … To me it’s not such a big thing because he’s not pitching for so many days.’’

But, it is a big deal. Harvey’s job required him to do one thing that day, and that was to show up to work on time. And, it wasn’t as if he had to be there at 9 and fight rush hour traffic. He had to be there at noon. He still could have slept in and been there on time.

In fairness, at the time Darling might not have heard several reports Harvey had been out partying, but does it really matter? Darling saw how partying destroyed the careers of Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry. Cocaine was their drug of choice; for Harvey, it is alcohol. Harvey relished talking about his drinking and nightclubbing in a national magazine article. He boasted of wanting to be a womanizer like Derek Jeter.

If you’re the Mets, how do you not connect the dots between that and being late? How does Darling, educated at Yale and in the major leagues, not see that coming?

Especially when it came to the conflicting stories.

On Tuesday, manager Terry Collins said Harvey called to say he was stuck in traffic and turn around and go home. However, Harvey showed up anyway and took the questions. He admitted to screwing up and I wrote he was stand-up and was willing to let it go. However, Harvey didn’t get his story straight with Collins and said he lost track of time.

Huh? You tell us pitching for the Mets in the playoffs is important to you and you’re late? Did you forget your statement after the innings mess? I didn’t, and Darling should’ve remembered, also.

Harvey wrote in early September: “Right now we’re hunkered down in a fight to make the postseason. All of our efforts are focused on that task. As a team, we understand that there’s still a lot of baseball left to play. The chance to make a run in the playoffs will require our full dedication, energy and passion. This is an incredibly exciting time to be part of the Mets.’’

“All of our efforts.’’ “our full dedication.’’

Once there are conflicting stories there will be digging. And, it didn’t help Harvey’s cause any when David Wright expressed his controlled annoyance.

How could Darling overlook all that? He’s better than that, and as a New York athlete who saw first-hand the falls of Gooden and Strawberry, he had to know it wouldn’t end with a lame story or Collins’ weak jokes.

During his career, Hernandez hit whistling line drives, and did it again when he told the newspaper: “I’m astounded after all that’s gone that this happened. I’m flabbergasted about it. But, as my father used to say: `You make your bed, you’ve got to sleep in it.’ I just think at this particular point of the season it’s really, really not good.’’

That is, of course, unless Harvey has Darling to fluff up his pillows for him.


Sep 08

SNY Misses Boat On Harvey Coverage

Normally, I buy into most things SNY commentators Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez say about the Mets, but they missed the essence of the Matt Harvey fiasco when they both took the easy way out and ripped agent Scott Boras. It’s not that Boras doesn’t do some infuriating things, but in this case he was only doing his job, which is looking after Harvey.

SNY:  Keith and Ron miss boat on Harvey issue. (SNY)

SNY: Keith and Ron miss boat on Harvey issue. (SNY)

Blaming Boras is easy because he’s an outsider, but the real architects for this mess are Mets GM Sandy Alderson and Harvey. We know of the financial link between the Mets and SNY, but that never prevented Hernandez and Darling from being critical of the Mets’ performance on the field before.

I wrongly thought they would shed significant light on this issue, but they have not.

As former players, both are acutely aware of the athlete-agent relationship, and should have pointed out Boras works for Harvey and doesn’t operate in a vacuum. Boras doesn’t do anything without Harvey knowing about it, and however the story got out, Harvey knew it was coming. How could he not? Instead, Harvey acted like the innocent victim and let Alderson take the heat.

I’m not buying for a second Alderson was confused about how the innings limit included the postseason and wasn’t just for the regular season. Say what you want about Alderson, he’s not naive enough to make that mistake.

I’m also not buying Alderson’s lame excuse he wasn’t counting on the Mets being in the postseason. Huh? This year, 2015, was what they’ve pointed to since Harvey was injured. When you talk about contending, your goal is the postseason – and subsequently the World Series. So, you must calculate six postseason starts – two in each round – and include that in the 34 starts he would normally make during a season.

That would be 28 in the regular season and six in the playoffs. If you figure six innings a start – which is on the low side – that’s 204 for the year. As I suggested numerous times, the Mets needed to come up with, and announce so there is no misunderstanding, a concrete number. Hell, the Mets had the schedule since November so there was plenty of time to figure this out.

Of course, the primary reason Alderson didn’t do this was to avoid the inevitable conflict with Harvey about limiting his innings. It’s one thing to admire Harvey’s desire to pitch, but his judgment is in question, and that includes complaining about the six-man rotation.

So, this issue isn’t Boras’ doing, but that of Alderson not being forceful enough with Harvey to construct a plan, and for Harvey fighting any innings limits; for having his agent broach the inevitable issue; and not being stand-up about his responsibility in this mess.

Both Hernandez and Darling are smart enough to recognize this. Too bad they picked the most controversial issue of the season to lose their voices.


Apr 14

Harvey Needs To Be Smarter For Mets

If you’re the Mets, you want more from Matt Harvey than he gave them last night. Yes, they won and he got the decision, but you need more from your ace.

You want Harvey to be sharper, but you need him to be smarter.

HARVEY: Frustrated despite win. (AP)

HARVEY: Frustrated despite win. (AP)

Harvey looked ordinary after starting with back-to-back strikeouts, but later missed on a couple of pitches in the “sweet spot,’’ zone on homers to lefty hitters Chase Utley and Cody Asche. That happens, but where Harvey was totally off was how he plunked Utley in retaliation for Phillies starter David Buchanan hitting Wilmer Flores and Michael Cuddyer.

Harvey said it was the situation of the game, but he wasn’t believable when he said he “got over amped it got away.”

Everybody knows when a pitcher throws at a hitter he does by throwing behind him. Utley knew it; he never made a move toward Harvey and didn’t even stare him down, unlike what the pitcher did with him.

Of course, I wouldn’t expect him to admit it as that means an automatic fine, if not a suspension.

Harvey was clearly not happy with the home run, or the RBI single, to Utley. His pitch count was slowly rising – another 90-plus pitches in six innings – and he was getting frustrated. You could see it on his face when the cameras caught him in the dugout.

One expected retaliation, but Harvey must be smarter in picking his spots. Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez – as you expect them – weren’t happy with Harvey. The other apologists at SNY, from Nelson Figueroa on down couldn’t bow enough to him.

Harvey definitely seems off after the delay on the challenge, which the Mets waited to do. You either make the call or you don’t, but you don’t make your pitcher wait and get out of rhythm.

Harvey missed on the home run pitches, but by inches. He’s walked only one hitter in his two starts compared to 17 strikeouts, so you know he can locate when he has to. It was clear that ball didn’t get away; Harvey knew where it was going.

In a close game and a runner on third, you don’t hit Utley. It was blatantly obvious. What if the umpire ejected him right there? What if he missed and the runner scored?

This came right after pitching coach Dan Warthen went to the mound, and there was no way he told Harvey to hit Utley. Harvey, as he frequently likes to do, acted on his own.

Earlier today I wrote how Harvey’s presence gives the Mets a chance to win. Tonight, he gave them a chance to lose.

Harvey actions weren’t the lone dark spot on what was a bright night in a bizarre game at Citi Field.

In the long term, David Wright had to leave the game with a pulled hamstring sustained while stealing second in the eighth inning.

“A couple of feet before I got to the bag I felt my hamstring grab,” Wright said. “I thought I could stretch it out but I couldn’t. I didn’t want to make the same mistake I made a couple of years ago.”

Wright will undergo a MRI Wednesday morning and the Mets are expected to bring up Eric Campbell from Triple-A Las Vegas.



Mar 06

Harvey’s First Inning … Perfect

Matt Harvey struck out the first hitter he faced Anthony Gose. Got the second, Jose Iglesias, on a one-bouncer back to the mound and the third, Rajai Davis, grounded out to first.

It was an easy inning as he threw only 10 pitches. Ron Darling said Harvey was stepping on the gas, which Keith Hernandez confirmed, saying he was at 96. It is important to note neither said Harvey was overthrowing as he kept the same compact delivery he always had.