May 08

Harvey Goes For Sixth Straight Against Phillies

By its simplest definition, a pitching ace must show up big when his team needs him most, which is what the Mets want tonight from Matt Harvey in Philadelphia.

Harvey (5-0, 2.41), who beat the Nationals and Yankees in his last two starts, will be trying to become the first pitcher in the majors to reach six victories this season. The last Mets starter to open a season at 5-0 was Pedro Martinez in 2006. The club record is 7-0 by Frank Viola in 1990.

He is 6-0 lifetime against the Philles, whom he beat April 14, 6-5 at Citi Field. If you recall, that was the game Harvey threw behind Chase Utley and plunked in the back. Utley is having a miserable season, batting .103, but is 6-for-15 lifetime against Harvey. Utley sat out the Phillies’ last two games but is in the lineup tonight.

The Mets are coming off a 5-1 win Wednesday over Baltimore, their second straight after losing seven of their previous ten games.

Apr 14

Harvey Excited About Tonight; Knows He Must Be Better

For all his self-confidence, and yes, arrogance as well, the best thing Matt Harvey brings to the Mets is the sense that when he pitches, they can win. They last had that feeling in 2006 when Hall of Famers Pedro Martinez and Tom Glavine took the ball.

Harvey gave that aura in 2013, and it is back.

HARVEY: Will be pumped tonight. (Getty)

HARVEY: Will be pumped tonight. (Getty)

Harvey is coming off a nine-strikeout performance in his first regular-season start since having Tommy John surgery. The best part was that despite being amped up, there was no pain or discomfort. He will again be pumped up for his return to Citi Field tonight against the Phillies.

“I know he’s excited,” manager Terry Collins said yesterday. “I know the team is excited. And I know the fans are excited.”

Harvey said: “`I don’t want to make a story about it, but it’s obviously exciting to be home.”

But it is a story, and his presence is a big deal to the Mets, who are giving away Matt Harvey T-shirts Friday. Hell, the organization even held back his start until today so it can sell a few more tickets. The gate for tonight is over 30,000.

The organization sees dollar signs when Harvey pitches, but there’s more than that to Harvey, who looks at his starts as artwork. Despite the zeroes and strikeouts last week against the Nationals, Harvey colored too much outside the lines. He knows the need to improve his command.

Harvey reached his pitch count of 90, but in six innings. That must get better for a number of reasons: 1) it shows his command wasn’t always there, and eventually it will catch up to him, and 2) it means more work for the bullpen.

Harvey knows what is expected of him, and more importantly, what he expects of himself.

“I definitely can be a little bit more fine,” Harvey said. “For me, I think 90 pitches through six innings is not good enough. If I’m throwing 90 pitches, I’d like to at least get into the seventh.”

There’s definitely a buzz with these Mets, although it is early. You sense it when you’re in their clubhouse, but talk is cheap.

“We’ve talked a lot about how good we can be,” David Wright said. “But true confidence is in winning.”

And, Harvey gives them the belief winning is attainable.

 

Jan 09

Pedro Martinez Compares Mets Fans to Yankees Fans

It wasn’t a shot at the Mets as much as it was an assessment as to how things really are between the Mets and Yankees in New York.

Pedro Martinez pitching for the Mets was a big deal, but him starting against the Yankees while with the Red Sox was an event.

“Coming over to the Mets really got me to understand the New York fans and fan base,’’ Martinez said. “I would say Queens is a little bit different than the Yankees fans. In Queens, they’re wild, they’re happy. They settle for what they have. The Yankees fans do not. It’s `Win or nothing. Win or nothing.’ ’’

He’s right. There’s a sense of entitlement from Yankees fans. Mets fans take was ownership gives them.

Martinez won 15 games his first season with the Mets in 2005, but injuries sapped his following years with New York. In 2009 he pitched against the Yankees in the World Series while with Philadelphia.

“I learned a lot while coming over to New York as a visitor with the Red Sox and also coming later on and dressing in the uniform of the Mets,’’ said Martinez. “Yankees fans were really good at trying to intimate you as a Red Sock when you came over.

“As the opposition, they wanted to intimidate you. But deep in their heart, they appreciate baseball. They appreciate everything that you do. They recognize greatness.

“And they’re gonna boo you and they’re gonna call you, ‘Who’s your daddy?’ They’re going to chant until you just go away.’’

The operative word in all that is “settle,’’ and he’s right. For the longest time Mets fans were forced to settle, to accept what ownership and management gave them.

And, it hasn’t always been good.

Dec 27

My Hall Of Fame Ballot And Reasoning

As I do every time this year, I mail in my Hall of Fame ballot. To grow up loving baseball and to vote for the Hall of Fame is a tremendous thrill. It is also a responsibility I take greatly, which is why I don’t understand the rationale of some of colleagues who use their vote as a political statement. If you don’t want to vote, then surrender your vote.

I can comprehend checking off two or three names if that’s all you believe are worthy and not the ten maximum. If you want to vote in a steroid user that’s your prerogative.

But, what I will never get is them believing, is because of the flux of steroid users that there are more than ten qualified candidates and therefore not submitting any ballot.

Just vote for your top ten and move on. Because candidates stay on the ballot based on the percentage of votes, there’s a chance worthy players will be left off. That’s blatantly unfair and penalizes deserving players.

How can you cover Major League Baseball for at least ten straight years – the requirement to vote – and you’re not able come up with a top ten? Just makes no sense.

I take pride in my vote, do a lot of research and talk to players, managers, coaches and general managers to gain input. And, it’s still hard. Here are my top ten and why:

Craig Biggio: He should have been voted in last year. Over three thousand hits. Aren’t you paying attention?

Mike Piazza: I hear the steroid rumors, but that’s all they are. Innuendo and some back acne aren’t reason enough to bar him.

Jeff Bagwell: Like Piazza, he’s not linked to steroids in any official capacity. Writers should be more responsible than to buy into rumors.

Tim Raines: Arguably one of the three best leadoff hitters in history along with Hall of Famers Rickey Henderson and Lou Brock.

Lee Smith: There’s a bias against him, but he’s third on the career list with over 400 saves.

Edgar Martinez: There’s a bias against him, also, because he’s a designated hitter. But, that’s an official position, and he was as good as anybody at it.

Mike Mussina: He could have pitched another two years and won 300 games, which is automatic entry. Seventeen straight seasons with double-digit victories, and 11 overall with fifteen or more, often pitching with inferior teams against the American League East.

Randy Johnson: A ten-time All-Star and five-time Cy Young Award winner with over 300 victories and 4,875 strikeouts. He’s a slam dunk. He also threw over 200 innings in 14 seasons.

Pedro Martinez: He was an eight-time All-Star and three-time Cy Young Award winner. His average season was 17-8 with a 2.93 ERA and 217 innings pitched.

John Smoltz: He won 213 games, but likely would have won over 300 if he didn’t miss the 2000 season with an injury and returned as a closer where in saved 154 games.

I did not vote for any of the players who were directly linked to steroids, either by direct testimony from other players or were mentioned in the Mitchell Report. Until the Hall of Fame and Major League Baseball put a notation on their plaques they played in the steroid era and their records come with an asterisk, that will be my stand.

Feb 24

Mets’ Manager Terry Collins Wants Players To Reveal Injuries

Ike Davis isn’t the first New York Met to withhold an injury from manager Terry Collins and won’t be the last.

He’s just the latest, and his recent revelation he concealed an oblique injury last season perplexed and frustrated his manager.

COLLINS: Not pleased with Davis. (AP)

COLLINS: Not pleased with Davis. (AP)

As Davis struggled at the plate, he denied anything was bothered him. On Sunday he opened up to the New York Post and indicated he didn’t report anything to the medical staff because it was about the time he was to be optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas and didn’t want people to think he was making excuses.

Davis admonished the reporter Monday morning, and by the afternoon Collins was in the storm – and not pleased about it.

“There’s got to be a conversation,’’ Collins told reporters in Port St. Lucie. “And then certainly it’s up to me to decide which way to proceed. … As I look back now, everything would have been better off had he said something, and certainly he’ll hopefully learn from it that he needs to speak up.’’

Davis defended his actions, telling The Post, players perform injured all the time and he didn’t want to come off as making excuses. At the time, Davis said he was fine, but clearly something was off.

Collins said it goes beyond pain and discomfort.

“Once again, I can’t address it because I don’t know how bad it was,’’ Collins said. “Was it aggravating? Was there pain? Did it hurt you to swing? Were you trying to protect it coming off the ball? I mean, there’s all sorts of different things. And I certainly don’t have any answers for you.’’

All managers receive a daily report from the training staff on the extent of an injury and whether the player received treatment. If Davis said nothing, then Collins wasn’t given any information.

That this story came out the way it did is embarrassing to Collins and the Mets, an organization that has received its share of criticism on how it treats injuries.

The Mets received heat for how it dealt with injuries to Ryan Church, Carlos Beltran, David Wright, Jose Reyes and Pedro Martinez to name a few.

Last summer, they were embarrassed when the story broke that Matt Harvey wasn’t forthcoming on pain to his forearm, which eventually landed him on the disabled list and under the knife.

There were conflicting reports as to when Collins and the Mets’ hierarchy knew of Harvey’s injury. Collins said he never received a trainer’s report.

Of course we can speculate – and rightfully so – as to whether that lack of disclosure cost Harvey this season.

One understands a player’s desire to perform and help his team, but such intent isn’t always beneficial. Harvey, Davis and the Mets would all have been better off had players reported the injury immediately.

Not doing so shows poor judgment, but it is also something players have done for years, especially young players such as Harvey and struggling ones like Davis. Sometimes fear, and sometimes the competitive juices drown out good judgment.

No, Davis won’t be the last Met to feel something and hold his tongue.

ON DECK: Wrapping the day.