There was a time, if you remember, back when Harvey was taking the Big Apple by storm, that he was close to being anointed as the next Jeter — a star talent on the baseball field, who was also the most famous and fabulous athlete in the city. He dated models and partied in swanky nightspots — all the things Jeter did so deftly.
The gossip pages and the paparazzi gave Jeter chase, but he was keen enough to stay clean. Harvey? Well, we know that’s not the case.
The “Next Derek Jeter” sentiment isn’t just a media creation either. (Though we do, admittedly love to anoint the “next” guy). This week the Derek Jeter comparison came up from an unnamed Mets teammate, who gave this juicy quote to Newsday’s Marc Carig:
“He wants to be Derek Jeter,” said one teammate, summing up the internal frustration with Harvey. “To do that, you’ve got to show up.”
Harvey was suspended three games by the Mets after no-showing for Saturday’s game. Harvey reportedly told the Mets he had a migraine after playing golf that morning. The Mets suspended him for calling in late and not going through the proper procedures to report an illness. A new report from Page Six makes Harvey’s story a little more fishy, saying that he was out partying until 4 a.m. Friday night. Derek Jeter did this, too — but he always showed up the next day.
That “He wants to be Derek Jeter” quote should tell you all you need to know. The rest of Carig’s story on the most recent Harvey debacle paints a picture of Harvey losing credibility in the Mets clubhouse even though he’s tried to carry himself differently this season, as opposed to the “sense of alienation” (as one teammate told Carig) that existed in the past.
That’s somewhat understandable. Harvey did zoom into the spotlight with his breakout season in 2013 — when Jetermania was conventionally sidelined by injury most of the season. Harvey was great on the mound, handsome and perfect for the tabloids. He hit the cover of Sports Illustrated as New York’s “Dark Knight,” carrying a chip on his shoulder. He stripped down for ESPN’s “The Body Issue.”
It all looked like a star was being born. Instead, the same thing that brings down so many pitchers brought down Harvey — his elbow. He needed Tommy John surgery and thus started a different chapter of his career: Matt Harvey, the malcontent. The one where he bickered with the Mets about things like where he’d rehab. The one where his agent and the Mets didn’t agree on his workload.
The past few years have seen Harvey trying to regain both his pitching form and his celebrity, neither of which are at 2013 heights today. (He was fantastic on the mound in 2015 after elbow surgery). If it weren’t for scandals like this one, he probably wouldn’t even be the famous pitcher on his own team anymore. That’s Noah Syndergaard. Now Harvey knows what it feels like to be the Toast of the Town one day and have that taken away the next, which is not uncommon in the land of celebrity.
It’s a funny coincidence that the latest Harvey drama is unfolding the same week as the Yankees are retiring Jeter’s No. 2. And it might actually be more telling about Jeter than Harvey. Matt Harvey looks these days like another famous athlete who couldn’t handle being the Big Shot in the Big Apple.
And Derek Jeter, all these years later, is still Teflon.
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