May Slumps & Harvey Mojo

May slumps are the worst. An icy breeze cuts through the warm air this time of year, and the CitiField sky appears ink-black when the sun goes away. May slumps become ingrained in the psyche of the team, creating a void that appears untenable. Why does a team look so lethargic when they’re not hitting? The Mets in particular seem to have molasses in their pockets when the May slumps set in.

The last few seasons you could set your clock to it: A fast April, zipping out the gate with bats and arms and first to third and all that. Then May slumps.

2-0 Rockies on a brisk-winded Saturday night. Balls hit square right at opposing fielders. Bats barely missing the sweet spot on easy fat pitches. May slumps.

* * *

Harvey has been fired. Awhile back I made a comparison to The Graduate after he was moved to the bullpen; Harvey looking all depressed and Benjamin Braddock-ing himself out there with Paul Sewald. Turns out he wasn’t really depressed. Just angry. And apparently in complete denial.

I guessed that Matt wasn’t thinking very much while trekking out to the bullpen, mostly because I assumed that professional athletes don’t get very introspective unless it is forced upon them. But I couldn’t have imagined just how little he was thinking. About anything.

There’s a weird hole on this team, and it didn’t just appear yesterday when Harvey was DFA’d (fired). My gut tells me that this hole has been there since springtime 2016, when Harvey started losing his mojo. The guy gave this team an edge that they simply haven’t had since the good ‘ol 2015 days. At the time, I thought it was a Murphy-sized hole. And that may well have been a part of it too. The double-whammy of having Murph on the Nats and raking it, and Harvey on the mound sucking it, just gave the 2016 Mets weird vibes all season. Kelly Johnson showed up to bring back some faint 2015 vibes, “Lugo & Gsellman” helped recreate “Johnson & Urine” vibes, and the season was almost something interesting, until it wasn’t. What was missing was the Harvey mojo.

And even now, as the Mets slump through May, I wonder what that missing Harvey mojo would do to help them. Probably nothing, because “mojo” is a made-up thing that sounds good when you’re writing about sports.

It would have been nice to experience a new kind of Harvey mojo: the Finesse Pitcher Harvey mojo. I actually convinced myself we would see that at some point this season.

Matt Harvey is Us

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What do you suppose Matt Harvey was thinking about as he trekked from the clubhouse to the bullpen? Probably wasn’t something like “This is what I need. This will help me.”

In fact, he probably wasn’t thinking anything at all.

What do athletes think about when they’re not pitching? Or actually, what do athletes think about after they’ve just been told they are no longer a starting pitcher and now must sit in a small box at the other side of the stadium and may or may not be called on that night to pitch, most likely in a situation in which they are not a factor in the outcome of the game?

Probably nothing. But what do they look like in that second scenario?

Probably this.

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Simon & Garfunkel has already been referenced, so I’ll save that one.

Instead I’ll call your attention to this “JIFF”, which is from The Graduate, the movie which Simon & Garfunkel soundtracked, and which the song “Sound of Silence” is prominently featured.

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Side note – never understood why that movie uses the same like 2 or 3 songs through the whole thing. It was one of the first films to use almost all pop music on its soundtrack, so I guess I gotta cut it some slack. But it’s like Mike Nichols was in the shower while they cut together the second half of that movie.

“Hey we need some music here. What can we put in?”

“Mike’s not here. Just put in Scarborough Fair again.”

(Pause)

“Ok.”

That pic of Dustin Hoffman gives me such Matt Harvey vibes now. And I don’t think I’ll ever be able to watch The Graduate again without thinking of this.

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***

This whole team gives me a Graduate/Simon & Garfunkel vibe for some reason this year. Like a kind of wistful, autumnal gentleness. A quiet intelligence. Books and smarts. Probably because it is in direct comparison with the previous teams, which always seemed to be run on the fly. Oh Terry. Papa Elf. Bless him.

***

In summation, Harvey is fake emo. Harvey wishes he is emo. He always wishes he is something. He’s always been this way. Even in 2013. He was craving that Dark Knight thing. He put it over his goddamn locker.

Problem is Harvey has the wrong kind of self awareness. It’s not really self-awareness at all. He’s aware only of what people think of him, or really, what he believes people think of him.

We all have this. Some have it more than others.

It’s sort of disappointing to see it. Simply put, I thought he was better than this. But I’m sure we all want our athletes to be better than us. That’s why they’re on that field under the lights. When an athlete shows signs of being just like us, the dreaded us, we get disappointed. Kind of pissed. Angry at the player. People don’t come out and say it, but it’s underneath everything they say: How could you? How could you have feelings? How could you let those feelings affect your behavior? What’s wrong with you?

We used to love Bartolo Colon because we thought he was us. Beer-belly and all. But Bartolo wasn’t us. Bartolo had a peaceful zen-shine to him. A razor-sharp, mellow-yellow aura that most of us only dream of having in our everyday lives.

Matt Harvey is us.