Can we just let him be Matt Harvey?
It's the epic example of the blow torch meeting the Exxon truck: Matt Harvey's 50,000-watt fastball whizzing away in the big, bad city, where habitual hyperbole happens right there with the frequency of honking horns in midtown.
Blow torch … truck …
All of which has turned the residual effect of Harvey's starts for the Mets into a roadside car wreck: You don't want to look, but you can't help it.
Because Vegas might start taking odds on who the self-proclaimed experts will compare Matt Harvey to next.
He was already Tom Seaver. So sayeth assorted blatherers. But that was so two weeks ago. Then he was Dwight Gooden, fittingly, because Doc took in one of Harvey's starts live last week. Then Nolan Ryan, because it's important to compare their first 13 starts as Mets. This is called a slow news day. This week's flavor: Justin Verlander.
Can Jesus Christ be far behind?
Hence, I have a question about all this:
Can't Matt Harvey just be, you know, Matt Harvey?
The kid from Mystic with the high octane fastball, good manners and big on the concepts of accountability and responsibility?
What, that's not enough?
Let me just issue my first mea culpa here for taking this personally. That's what happens when you know somebody of burgeoning fame, but you knew him when he was 10. You know mom and dad and sisters. You know who used to coach him in Little League. You know his friends.
And you also know this script. Young pitchers — all of them — hit uneven periods and then all those comparisons get thrown back in their face.
You don't think some dope on WFAN isn't going to say something like, "Some Tom Seaver!" the next time Harvey has a cluster of rough starts?
Except that Harvey never compared himself to anybody else. It would be the ultimate irony for him. Because he remains most respectful of the game.
It's naïve to expect this preponderance of pundits now to resist the urge to compare players of different generations. I also get the idea that predictions reeking of restraint don't make headlines or water cooler conversations.
But this has become absurd.
Even the Blowhard Who Used To Throw Hard, otherwise known as Curt Schilling, chimed in the other day and said that if he were starting a franchise, he'd take Harvey over Stephen Strasburg. At least Schilling chose one of Harvey's contemporaries. Not like the other dolts who have tossed around Seaver's name next to kid who hasn't made 20 career starts.
And if we're going to make comparisons, let's do it right:
Tom Seaver has never distinguished himself as a particularly pleasant fellow. Seems one major difference between him and Harvey already. And Gooden is among the league leaders in past demons. So really: Is Matt Harvey like Seaver and Gooden at all?
Funny how all these people who think they know Harvey don't know him at all. If they did, they'd know that Harvey's goal entering this season was modest: to pitch deeper into games. Stop trying to strike everybody else out and be there in the seventh inning with a reasonable pitch count. Durability. Innings eater. Harvey believes that's what resonates now.
It was during breakfast we had together at spring training that Harvey mentioned a goal of 200 innings for this season, his first full one in the majors.
He sure sounded grounded. That's because he is. He'd never compare himself to Tom Seaver. That would contradict everything Ed and Jackie Harvey taught him. On and off the field.
You want a good story? How about May 9-12 when the Pirates visit Citi Field? At some point in that series, Harvey may pitch to John McDonald.
Two guys from this corner of the world born 15 years apart in the same hospital who survived this region's short springs, bad weather and lack of comparative cachet to other outposts of the country and still made the majors.
Johnny Mac, now the 15-year veteran who will play in his 1,000th game this year. Harvey the second-year whiz kid on his way to Cooperstown … until his next bad start.
Meanwhile, let's all tune into Mike Francesa beating his chest on WFAN.
Bet he'll have Matt Harvey turning water into wine real soon. And he knew it all along.
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.
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