Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Will Matt Harvey's tantrum spell trouble?
By Andrew Marchand
Sandy Alderson grew up in a military family. After his father, an Air Force pilot, flew in three wars including World War II, Alderson became a Marine and did a tour of duty in Vietnam. That’s the 66-year-old GM’s background.
Matt Harvey has already dated a supermodel, posed nude for ESPN The Magazine and, other than a hiccup with his elbow, is living as good a life as anyone, anywhere. That’s the 24-year-old star’s background.
Alderson wants Harvey to spend most of the next seven months in sleepy Port St. Lucie, Fla., while Harvey understandably prefers the bright lights of New York City.
“It's like any parent with a kid,” said an MLB executive about the disagreement.
The difference is that Harvey is the New York Mets' meal ticket and he owns the final say. The CBA stipulates that a player can only be compelled to spend a maximum of 20 days rehabbing at the team's spring-training complex. To exceed that total, the player must give his written consent.
As the executive cautioned, it is not the biggest issue in the world, and can be managed by better communication. It appears that Alderson is planning to stay on top of it by sitting down with Harvey.
“You have to compromise,” the executive said. “Maybe he splits his time.”
Harvey said Tuesday that his main reason for wanting to be in New York instead of Port St. Lonely -- which is the moniker Mets rehabbers have used for years -- is because he would like to be around his teammates.
Perhaps that's true, but we all were 24 years old once. Who wouldn't rather live the high life rather than be isolated in a sleepy town on what is a tedious rehab assignment?
The eternally tortured Mets understandably have the urge to swaddle Harvey in bubble wrap, to protect him from any distractions. They have been through Doc & Darryl and Generation K, et al.
At the same time, Harvey is already an All-Star starter and he is the future of the franchise. The Mets have to let him grow up and trust he will make the right decisions.
That’s all they can do.
Harvey famously grew up a Yankees fan and constantly talks of his fondness for Derek Jeter, as he once told The Post’s Steve Serby:
“I was a Yankee fan growing up,” Harvey said. “In my mind, somebody who ruled New York was Derek Jeter. You saw him everywhere, you heard about him everywhere. Everybody wanted to be like Derek Jeter. He never gets in trouble. He’s never doing anything wrong off the field. He’s just a true professional in everything he does. For me, he has [ruled New York]. The legacy Derek Jeter has left in New York is what I strive for and what I try to accomplish.”
For all of Jeter’s girlfriends and fame, his singular focus has always been the playing field. That is where it all starts for Harvey and -- if he is going to have Jeter-like staying power -- that is what will continue to open up all the other doors.
The point is that Harvey may not understand why the Mets want him in St. Lucie instead of New York, but he should listen very carefully to their reasoning. Alderson is looking out for Harvey and the Mets’ best interests.
No, this is not the biggest issue in the world, but we might learn about what type of legacy Harvey will eventually carve out for himself. Alderson’s background and his personality suggest he believes in a chain of command. St. Lucie may be death to social life, but the team believes it gives Harvey the best chance to succeed.
In the end, it might not matter where Harvey trains this season.
But the outcome of this little disagreement will certainly foretell what type of relationship Harvey will have with the team. Harvey should know that sometimes father knows best -- even, if in this case, the son has the final call.