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Explaining Matt Harvey and the Mets Begins and Ends with the Mets

The team's ex-ace is a difficult guy. The organization, as always, is making mistakes no other team would even know how to make.
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

I am not going to be able to get you up to speed on how things between the New York Mets and Matt Harvey led to Harvey spending 15 minutes tearfully addressing his teammates in the locker room on Tuesday afternoon. I'd love to tell you how things got so bad between the brilliant bottle service aficionado and erstwhile ace standing in the sad and spreading puddle of recrimination and his team. But I should tell you up front that I am just not going to be able to do it. I'm not sure anyone could, but I am extremely sure that I cannot.


Some of this is because I wouldn't know where to start. A logical place would be Saturday of last week, when the Mets' cheerful clubhouse tradition of giving a goofy costume crown to the player of the game was marred when a righteous doglegged coffee-colored dong photobombed a team pic of T.J. Rivera's crowning. When the Mets handed Harvey a three-game suspension on Sunday, for an unspecified violation of unspecified team rules, the natural assumption was that the two were related. The days that followed were marked by the unraveling of that easy dildonic confluence and the emergence of something much pettier, somehow even dumber, and infinitely richer in Metsiness. The last bit, the Metsiness, meant that it would end in tears; the specifics of the situation made them non-metaphorical ones.

Rather than trying to explain what Metsiness is, we might as well just let the last few days of back-and-forth Mets/Harvey ridiculousness illustrate it. On Sunday, reporters learned that the suspension was not dildo-related; it was revealed that Harvey had failed to show up at the stadium on Saturday, the day before his scheduled Sunday start. The team sent Harvey home on Sunday, plugged Triple-A plugger Adam Wilk into Harvey's spot, and watched Wilk give up three homers that traveled a combined quarter of a mile over three-and-two-thirds innings; the Mets were one-hit and lost 7-0. There is a universe in which this was the end of it, but that is not the universe in which the Mets or any of us exist.


On Monday, both the Mets and Harvey began to present their sides of this story. The idea that there were sides of this story in the first place—that there was a story, in the first place—is in part because these are the Mets, and in part because Harvey is represented by Scott Boras, but mostly because these are the Mets. Other teams suspend players for disciplinary infractions, but none of them so reliably turn that sort of thing into such a sublimely petty and mercilessly protracted public theater performance. The Mets, or at least the voluble and censorious and perma-pissy Anonymous Team Sources that are quickest to comment on this stuff, are not about letting shit go; they start it because they cannot help but start it, and everything that follows is inevitable in the same way gravity is. It had only just begun, because it is always like that. It did not end, because it does not ever end.

So we know, by now, actually rather a lot about these initially unspecified violations of team rules. We know, not that it matters, the bottle service order that Harvey and "his boys" placed at (inevitably) Manhattan nightclub 1OAK late on Cinco De Mayo, and we know the mildly disputed fact that Harvey was sober enough to drive his buddies to and from a golf outing on Saturday morning, and we know about the arrival of a migraine on Saturday afternoon. It was "said to be the worst of his life," Fanrag's Jon Heyman reported on Monday, presumably after hearing as much from a trusted source.


We know that Harvey did not text the right people at the right time to inform them about this, but that he did text them. We know that the Mets sent two security staffers to Harvey's apartment on Saturday night around 10 p.m., either to check up on him or, uh, check up on him. We know that Harvey answered the door in pajamas. We did not even have time for one of the New York tabloids to run with a Photoshop-aided back cover and a "PJ HARVEY" headline, because local reporters were still pinning down who texted whom when, and how distressed and disappointed all parties involved were about all of it. It was still roughly lunchtime on Tuesday when Buster Olney published a piece on ESPN suggesting that the Mets send Harvey to the minors, both to stop the service clock ticking down towards his eventual free agency and to teach him a lesson about being more sorry for party-rocking, being more on top of his texts, or both. Area masochists made the easy jokes, but no one really believed that any of this was anywhere near over.

So we know everything, or we will eventually know everything, or more precisely we will know two parallel versions of "everything" that only tenuously and intermittently overlap. That last bit is Metsiness in action. The bizarre organizational eagerness to mix it up via anonymous quotes and innuendo, the abject inability to handle anything personnel-related privately or with anything like equanimity, the baffling passive-aggressive state of war between the team and all of its most notable players—that's what Metsiness looks like, and does.

Harvey has not pitched well this year in his return from thoracic outlet surgery, but he remains one of the team's most important contributors, if no longer the icon he was. Harvey has been a galvanic ace and a peevish enigma during his time with the Mets, often at the same time; more recently he has been injured, or at least seemingly trapped in the uneasy and delicate shadow state that exists just before or immediately following an injury. You hear things about him being a difficult and willful and selfish person, you wonder what might be coded in all the stories about his "partying." But, again, that matters less than the fact that you keep hearing them, because the same people are saying them. Which, again, resolves back to Metsiness, a condition in which no feud ever ends and every slight or offense is left to metastasize and bloat until such time as the two parties part ways in trade or free agency.

The Mets have existed in this state of constant and rosily inappropriate public nudity for so long that it's difficult to remember that things can be otherwise. The impossible pettiness and poor judgment of the team's owners and their associates is to blame, or it's a warped team culture that fosters Harvey-style entitlement is to blame, or it's the haunted moor upon which CitiField is built is to blame. That or it is just the state of things, the only way it has ever been or ever could be. There probably are things to know, here, actual facts of the matter. But if you know just one thing—that these are the Mets, and that this is the thing they do—then you know enough not to wait for an ending.