ESPN’s Sam Miller wrote an article titled, Bunting is hard. Matt Harvey makes it look nearly impossible. He closes the article saying, “it’s not as hard as Harvey makes it look, probably. But it’s not that hard to make it look that hard.”
This concluded a column teetering between two narratives. One, bunting is hard, and two, Matt Harvey is a buffoon who is borderline incapable of tying his shoes on the first go-around.
Now, if you’re not a huge baseball fan I could see why you wouldn’t entertain the idea of reading an article exclusively covering a fading star pitcher’s failures, but Miller did mention a stat that stuck out to me as a die-hard Mets fan whose heart has been crushed by the fall of the Dark Knight.
As of 2013, Harvey had been asked to bunt 11 times. Eight of those resulted in successful bunts. Since returning from Tommy John surgery in 2015, he has bunted 27 times: eight times the runner was advanced (including two errors), and as a whole, 32 outs were made. That’s no typo, thirty. two. outs were made. Statistically, Harvey would’ve been more helpful performing a dizzy bat chug at home plate, which considering his recent antics, might’ve helped him shake off the hangover and pitch better. A little hair of the dog, if you will.
This stat is not overly relevant to Harvey’s success as a baseball player. If he were still mowing down hitters and snarling through a half pound of chew this would have never been mentioned.
It does, however, serve as a microcosm of the dramatic (or traumatic for some) fall from grace that Gotham’s former hero has experienced.
Thinking back to the early part of his career when Harvey Day was akin to a weekly Christmas in Flushing, you’d be hard-pressed to find a baseball fan who could imagine Harvey’s star burning out in five short years. He was electric and offered a level of excitement that hadn’t been present since the infamous 2007 collapse. Well, it has now become painfully obvious that something changed.
While doing my research on the topic (Googling “sacrifice bunt MLB”), I came across a quote from the Phillies first-base coach and household baseball name, Mickey Morandini. He said, “you gotta want to bunt, you gotta want to get it down.”
While this is a classic example of an old baseball guy making an obvious generalization, it rings a clear, sobering bell in Harvey’s case.
Somewhere along the way, Harvey stopped wanting to do anything, let alone lay down a bunt. Maybe it was injuries beating him down, or an over-inflated ego that couldn’t pause the party, but somehow the guy once treasured for his competitive nature turned into the guy making 32 outs on 27 bunts, because, frankly, he just doesn’t give a fuck anymore.
Will it break my heart when he revitalizes his career and wins a couple of World Series with the Yankees? Obviously. But as a lifelong Mets fan (thanks, Dad), I know how this story ends.
It’s already happening.
Please let me fast-forward through his brief anonymity in Cincinnati, black out for the entirety of what will undoubtedly be a successful tenure with the Yankees and allow me to soak in my Mets-induced depression, dreaming of what could have been.