By Zach Gewelb
If there was ever any doubt as to which team was the official circus of Major League Baseball, those doubts were put to rest this week as the Mets and pitcher Matt Harvey were engulfed in controversy.
The Mets suspended their former ace for three games after Harvey failed to show up for work Saturday. He stayed out late Friday night and spent Saturday morning at the golf course. He then reportedly was suffering from the effects of a bad headache. He failed to report to Citi Field for 4 p.m. batting practice, sending the Mets into a frenzy to find him.
According to reports, the Mets sent a security team to Harvey’s apartment and Harvey answered the door in his pajamas, claiming he had a migraine. Harvey came into work Sunday morning to learn he had been suspended.
Failure to show up to the ballpark is unacceptable. Especially with recent reports claiming that Harvey was out until 4 a.m. partying in the Meatpacking district early Saturday morning before playing the round of golf and taking a nap.
There is no excuse for Harvey’s actions, whether he had a bad headache or not. Players are supposed to be there to support their teammates and Harvey showed them up. The suspension was absolutely warranted, yet Harvey is reportedly considering filing a grievance against the team, which is ridiculous. He needs to accept his punishment. He already apologized to his teammates and now he just needs to move on.
The Mets, perhaps out of necessity, seem ready to forgive Harvey. The team scheduled Harvey to pitch Friday night against the Brewers. They have no one else to turn to.
All this drama comes after the Mets allowed Noah Syndergaard to refuse an MRI exam, claiming he was healthy after missing a start. He took the ball as scheduled on his next turn in the rotation and was pulled after one inning. The ace was shut down for at least six weeks with a lat injury.
The behavior from the two starting pitchers is puzzling, but it is becoming more and more common in sports today. Star players are beginning to take over, whether it’s in baseball, basketball or football. These athletes believe they can do no wrong and Harvey’s suspension is a step in the right direction.
The Mets stood up and penalized Harvey for violating team rules, as any team should do when a star player acts like that. But the bottom line is that the Mets allowed this to happen. Harvey has a history of showing up late and has only received small fines — pocket change for a multimillion-dollar athlete.
If the Mets and other professional sports teams want to take control back from their star players, there needs to be stiffer discipline handed down for violating the rules and it should be a league-wide policy, not a team decision. Make the players accountable for their actions. Increase the fines for repeated offenders and make suspensions longer.
With a strict set of rules that every player has to follow, there would be fewer instances of insubordination. It may be tough to implement at a league-wide level but something has to be done, or else the circus in Flushing will never leave town.
Reach reporter Zach Gewelb by e-mail at zgewe