May 09

Humble Harvey Apologizes; Now We Wait

A humbled Matt Harvey said and promised to do all the right things. However, actions always speak louder than words, and it will take more than just a quality start Friday in Milwaukee for his apology to be accepted.

“First off, as I just did with my teammates and all the coaches, I apologized for my actions and I do apologize for my actions,” was how Harvey opened his press conference and Citi Field today.

HARVEY: Apology accepted. (AP)

HARVEY: Apology accepted. (AP)

“Obviously, I’m extremely embarrassed by my actions.”

Harvey was emotional, soft-spoken and contrite. There wasn’t a hint of arrogance. He was a man asking for another chance. He admitted he was wrong. As far as getting another chance, Harvey said it was something that needed to be earned.

Harvey was a no-show for Saturday’s game, and the Mets didn’t know of his condition until team security personnel came to his Manhattan apartment at 10 p.m.

They found him well, and when he reported to Citi Field for his Sunday start against Miami, he was suspended for three days. That gave him plenty of time to think about what he would say and the tone of his message.

The apology was “heartfelt,” said Curtis Granderson, one of many Mets who insisted they still trusted Harvey and had his back.

He would need his teammates’ trust and respect to move forward, as manager Terry Collins said, “he can’t do it alone.”

Collins is old school in many ways and has heard more than his fair share of apologies. He knows sincerity when he hears it.

“He gave it some great thought and certainly did it the right way,” Collins said. “I say, `Don’t tell me, show me.’ I think everybody deserves a second chance. Those guys in that room respect him.”

Part of earning respect is owning up to his actions.

“Yes, I was out on Friday night, past curfew,” Harvey said. “I did play golf Saturday morning and I put myself in a bad place to be ready to show up for a ballgame. It is my responsibility and I take full blame for that.”

When Noah Syndergaard was injured, Harvey was moved up to take his spot, then complained he wasn’t given enough time. He said he lifted weights the day before, something he shouldn’t have done.

Harvey was making excuses for a bad outing. Today, he accepted clubbing isn’t proper game preparation: “People make mistakes, and there are things I have realized the last couple days. … [What] I should be doing is putting myself in a better place to perform physically.”

Harvey could have gone Wednesday afternoon, but Collins opted for Friday, which would spare him getting a negative reception at Citi Field.

“I’m looking forward to getting everything back on track and helping this organization moving forward,” Harvey said. “They have my word on that.”

If there is a clubhouse leader with David Wright out indefinitely it is Granderson, who when asked if he bought Harvey’s apology, said: “There’s no reason why I wouldn’t.It was genuine. It was heartfelt. He definitely thought it out and knew what he wanted to say. I think guys have spoken to him even before he said something today, and guys will continue to talk to him after today.”

One of those guys was Bartolo Colon, who reached out in a text telling him he needed to make baseball a priority.

Today was the first step.

One issue Harvey would not address was a report he planned to file a grievance with the Players Association.

There was no way he was going to admit to that today.

“That’s the last thing in the last three days I’ve thought about,” Harvey said. “I’ve been thinking about the team more than anything. … I’ve apologized for what I’ve done. My job is to move forward and do everything I can to help this team and organization get back on track.”

One would think a legal battle isn’t the right was.

May 08

Today’s Question: What Will Harvey Say?

The Mets suspended Matt Harvey for three days Sunday and sent him home before he could address the media. When Harvey shows up at Citi Field this afternoon making today’s question an obvious one: What will he say? What is his version of what happened?

HARVEY: Is he walking away from Mets? (AP)

HARVEY: Is he walking away from Mets? (AP)

Of course, there will be the obvious follow-up questions. What does he hope to gain by filing a grievance with the Players Association? Does he believe his relationship with the Mets has been irreparably damaged? Why does controversy always swirl around him? Whom did he try to reach with the Mets? Does he even want to be a Met? What was his golf score Saturday, and was he in a group with Yoenis Cespedes?

I have no idea of what he will say, but considering his track record of controversy since 2013, it is hard to give him benefit of the doubt. Do you think he deserves it?

I wrote as early as 2013 he was becoming a headache, and as soon as the next summer he was wearing out his welcome and the Mets should explore trading him because I didn’t think he would re-sign when he becomes a free agent after the 2018 season and nothing has happened to make me change my mind.

Harvey has always been a me-first diva and has a lot of explaining to do to make me think otherwise. For those who don’t agree with me, well, that’s fine. But, consider this. That the fans, media, manager and general manager, have pretty much let Harvey call his own shots without consequence has lead him to think he can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants.

May 07

The Drama Never Ends With Harvey

For once, the Mets acted quickly when it came to Matt Harvey, suspending their one-time wonder pitcher who is going from future star to supernova. The Mets suspended Harvey for three days today without pay for violating club rules. Left-hander Adam Wilk was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas to replace Harvey and after flying all night was shelled for six runs in the Mets 7-0, one-hit, loss to the Marlins.

HARVEY: He's hiding something. (ESPN)

HARVEY: He’s hiding something. (ESPN)

Not surprisingly, neither GM Sandy Alderson nor manager Terry Collins specified why Harvey was suspended, leading us to wonder on social media. Alderson read a short announcement and did not take questions, leaving Collins alone to address the latest Mets-Harvey soap opera.

“We’ll keep it in-house, the way it’s supposed to be,” Collins said.

Except it won’t stay in-house. It never does.

The Mets obviously knew they would suspend Harvey, Saturday afternoon, but delayed in doing so to give Wilk time to fly in from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Undoubtedly, they had to wait to make the announcement less than three hours before game time in case Wilk didn’t make it on time.

The Mets waited for Harvey to come to Citi Field before telling him he was suspended and sent him home. Of course, he did not address the media.

The club did say the offending incident had nothing to do with an adult sex toy placed in Kevin Plawecki’s locker for the world to see while T.J. Rivera was being interviewed. Multiple reports had Harvey not being at the ballpark Saturday, saying he played golf and came off the course with a migraine headache and there was a miscommunication with the Mets, who disputed that account which further clouds the story.

If it were accurate it would alleviate the drama that always swirls around Harvey. The Mets mislead us before, so it would not be a surprise if it happens again. If the headache story were true, even if there was a screw up in getting the message to the Mets, there likely wouldn’t be a suspension. If the Mets bought into it, even if not true, this story would die down quickly after Harvey apologized.

The bottom line: Do you honestly believe Harvey doesn’t have the cell phone numbers of Alderson, Collins and trainer Ray Ramirez? Even if they didn’t pick up, they would have gotten the message. Even if Harvey was ill, he should have shown up, gotten looked at by the trainers, and be sent home.

Since the Mets are playing hide-and-seek with the truth, let me seek. My guess is instead of working on his pre-game routine prior to a start – shagging flies, looking at film, light throwing, or whatever – he took off for Ottawa, Canada, to watch the Rangers. That’s not a report. It is conjecture because the Mets aren’t giving us the truth.

“There are things that go on that you deal with every day that makes the job difficult, but you know it comes with the territory,” Collins said. “This is one of those. … In order to control things, you’ve sometimes got to make tough decisions.”

With Syndergaard out, Zack Wheeler trying to come back, Rafael Montero on his way out of the rotation, and Robert Gsellman erratic, would the Mets really give up a chance to go for a sweep of the Marlins over a headache?

I’m guessing no.

The greatest ability is dependability and Harvey’s teammates can’t rely on him. That the Mets said their decision was based on a compilation of things with Harvey is indicative of his repeated irresponsibility.

“We’re disappointed,” said Jose Reyes. “We are counting on him.”

“Whatever the reason happens to be, he’s not on the field,” said Curtis Granderson. “There’s a lot of guys that are on the field at this moment in time. We’ll just have to keep moving forward.”

Alderson tried desperately to trade Jay Bruce this winter, and ironically he is rapidly becoming a team spokesman.

“I don’t know if I’d use the word `frustrating,’ ” Bruce said. “There are team policies and when those aren’t followed, action has to be taken. I don’t know any of the details. I just know that Matt’s not here [Saturday].”

However, this won’t end with a simple apology to his teammates, because Harvey’s camp said a grievance would be filed with the Players Association against the Mets.

Yes, that will smooth things over.

Oct 12

Utley Appeals Leaving Us To Wonder Harvey’s Response

You knew it wouldn’t be as easy for the Mets as Chase Utley simply taking his two-game suspension and quietly waiting until Game 5.

As for Matt Harvey, who always has a swirl of non-pitching issues about him, now has one more thing to contemplate: Should he impose his own brand of frontier justice by drilling Utley in the back if he plays?

“We’re definitely moving forward with him in our minds,’’ Harvey said at the Mets workout Sunday afternoon at Citi Field.

HARVEY: What's he thinking  as Utley appeals?  (MLB)

HARVEY: What’s he thinking as Utley appeals? (MLB)

Like most everything Harvey says, it is open to interpretation, just like his following comment, which at first means winning is the best revenge, but ends with a clipped warning.

“I think the most important thing is going out and doing my job and doing what’s best for the team,’’ Harvey said at the workout. “For me, in my mind, that’s going out and pitching a long game and being out there as long as I can, and keeping zeros on the board.’’

That’s the perfect response, but he couldn’t let it go, and added: “But you know, as far as sticking up for your teammates, I think being out there and doing what’s right is exactly what I’m going to do.’’

Harvey nailed Utley in an April game, so we know he’s willing to get his hands dirty. But, if he hits him this time, would part of his intent be to clean his reputation with his teammates?

Many Mets players, notably David Wright, have not been enamored with Harvey after his innings-limits fiasco was brought to light by agent Scott Boras, and most recently for showing up late for a workout last week, reportedly after partying the night before.

Utley’s decision to appeal Major League Baseball’s knee-jerk reaction to suspend is not surprising. Baseball executive Joe Torre a former player, manager and leader of the Players Association, knows hardball plays of which this was, and the emotions of it happening in New York.

Torre said numerous times when he managed the Yankees the players take care of these things themselves, and that’s probably what he is afraid of. This happened Saturday night so the emotions and tensions remain raw. It is easy for him to think things could break loose, especially when fueled by the anger of a crowd with lynching on its mind.

Torre rightly wanted to defuse a potentially ugly situation, but in doing do may he be wrongly persecuting Utley?

Sure the slide was late, Torre said so at the time. But, at the time he did not deem it dirty. Neither did the umpires, who had the authority to call the runner out and eject him from the game.

While Torre said the slide violated the rules, he never called it dirty when he issued the suspension. What are we supposed to make of that? Did Torre change his mind by simply watching the replays, or by reading the quotes from the Mets’ clubhouse and hearing the ire of the man of the street?

What about the neighborhood play, you ask?

It does not apply because Daniel Murphy’s throw pulled Tejada off the bag and put him in a position where he could not defend himself. Replays showed Tejada put himself at risk for attempting to spin and then throw. The spin put him directly in the path of Utley’s slide.

There are rules in place, which Torre quoted, designed to protect the fielder. Apparently, the umpires did not feel they were violated. However, Harvey does and we are all wondering how he will respond. He would be foolish if he did because it could mean an ejection for him or an injury if the result is a brawl.

Of course, MLB is likely to uphold the suspension, which raises an interesting question: What if Utley were to get the Players Association involved or pull a Tom Brady and take this to court?

Sep 08

Mets Must Capitalize On Cespedes Extension

No matter what happens tonight in Washington, the Mets received a huge break because Major League Baseball and the Players Association reached an agreement that would allow them to pursue outfielder Yoenis Cespedes throughout the offseason. Cespedes’ contract limited the Mets to a five-day window after the World Series to sign him.

According to the original provision, the Mets wouldn’t have been allowed to sign Cespedes until May 15, and by that time he would have been signed. Considering their record, there’s no way the Mets would have been able to reach a deal with Cespedes in those five years.

However, Cespedes in under contract now and the Mets have his undivided attention. With how he has produced, he is worth bringing him back, even if it costs a lot.

If Cespedes leaves, the Mets will have the familiar problem of needing a power bat in the outfield. Michael Cuddyer will be gone after 2016 and Curtis Granderson will be gone in two years. All their young pitchers are under their control for several years, so there will be available money.

Another thing worth noting, when a team reaches the playoffs after a long dry spell, it doesn’t experience the benefit until the next year (2016). With the schedule now out and the Mets in the midst of a crucial series with Washington, people are already looking forward to next year.

If the Mets let Cespedes slide through their fingers, there’s no telling how this would impact ticket sales.

Since joining the Mets, July 31, for minor league pitcher Michael Fulmer, Cespedes is hitting .311 with 13 homers and 31 RBI in 34 games. He’s been an impact player since joining the major leagues, so what he’s doing isn’t a fluke.

Alderson earned his money with the trade, but keeping him is the real coup.