What a throwback weekend of dysfunction it has been already for the Mets, sucking any positive wind out of a couple of high-scoring wins against the Marlins like only they historically have been wont to do.
In a matter of days, the headlines at Citi Field have advanced from a background picture of a sex toy in Kevin Plawecki’s locker accidentally tweeted out by the team, to ominous injury updates on the team’s two biggest stars, to GM Sandy Alderson finally walking into a morning press conference on Sunday and grimly announcing that former ace Matt Harvey has been suspended without pay for three days (beginning Saturday) for the ever-nebulous violation of team rules that one Mets source described as “a compilation of issues” that “dates back to last year.”
“He has some growing up to do,” the source added.
Wait, all together now, “So the Mets have team rules? Who knew?”
I mean, even the Knicks must be shaking their heads right now and thinking, “Man, the Mets really are some kind of hot mess.”
Honestly, with all of the injury issues the team has been dealing with since breaking training camp, the last thing the Mets needed right now was some level of insubordination from any of their players. But especially Harvey, who was slated to pitch for the series sweep on Sunday in hopes of rebounding from consecutive outings in which he was tagged for six earned runs in each of them.
Another Mets person even told Daily News baseball columnist John Harper on Saturday that he was “shocked” that Harvey spoke encouragingly after his most recent rough start that he “felt great” about his stuff, adding that “Matt has always been very competitive. That didn’t sound like him.”
Either way, you’d think considering what else has transpired around here in recent days and weeks and months and years and decades, the Mets would want to take a strong and open public stance on whatever rule or rules Harvey broke.
Why not just say exactly what he did, admonish him, say it won’t be tolerated, all of that.
But not surprisingly, the Mets instead were in full circle-the-wagons mode all morning and intent on controlling the story, spinning the damage and not divulging any particulars, a commonplace practice that often comes in the form of orders from the top down beginning with micromanaging co-owner Jeff Wilpon, who was seen having an animated discussion with father Fred on the field before Saturday’s game.
Thus, Alderson wouldn’t even entertain questions from the media after reading his prepared statement on Harvey. (The GM did honor a commitment to do a satellite radio interview later in the morning on other topics, without really expounding on his suspended pitcher.)
Alderson instead left Terry Collins to face the media before the game, and the skipper didn’t add much on Harvey beyond revealing he was about to hold a rare pregame team meeting.
Collins didn’t even say when Harvey would pitch again, although this certainly gives the Mets an option now to skip the ever-ineffective Rafael Montero on Wednesday against the Giants (#CuzImMrBrightside).
“There’s things with this job that certainly are internal that the public can’t see, and how hard it is, and this one’s a tough one,” Collins said. “So we hope to put it behind us and move forward.”
Asked if he would simply, finally, tell his players “to grow the hell up,” the flabbergasted Collins at least self-deprecatingly quipped that he’d “probably phrase it just a hair different than that.”
At the very least, such a strongly worded message appears to be well in order and probably long overdue. Epecially after Noah Syndergaard refused the team’s recommendation for an MRI on his right arm before suffering a torn lat in his next start a few days later. The injury, the Mets revealed Saturday, now will keep Thor from throwing a ball or dropping the hammer for at least six weeks and expectedly will keep him sidelined for at least another month beyond that.
Whoever pranked Plawecki by planting the sex toy (sorry, not going into specifics in a family newspaper/website) in his locker — which was in full view in the background of a photo of T.J. Rivera that was posted and quickly deleted — provided another dose of embarrassment — OK, I laughed — for the organization.
Yes, only the Mets.
Despite the timing, there was zero indication that Harvey’s suspension was related to the Plawecki incident — which a team source later confirmed to the Daily News.
Still, Harvey unmistakably has been in the organizational crosshairs before, and it certainly makes sense that this self-inflicted ban was an accumulation of several smaller clubhouse or team violations.
Harvey, most notably, battled along with agent Scott Boras with the front office over his innings limits following Tommy John surgery two years ago.
And don’t forget that he also ticked everyone off by showing up at the end of an off-day workout during the 2015 playoffs, initially telling the Mets he simply lost track of time and/or was stuck in traffic, before later backtracking and simply admitting that he “(messed) up.”
He was not suspended for that transgression and pitched throughout the team’s run to the World Series before experiencing more serious injury woes last year and an uneven start to this season on the mound.
Now, Matt Harvey — once the celebrated Dark Knight of Gotham — has been suspended on what was a Gloomy Day at Citi.
One more time, only the Mets.