The Mets are living a scene from GoodFellas right now… and trust me, it is a scene filled with absurd tension.
Remember that whole great sequence when Henry Hill, all coked up, has to drive all over the city, cook dinner and set up a huge cocaine deal? The entire momentum of the scene was stopped in an instant when the baby sitter turned drug carrier, Lois, needs her lucky hat.
LOIS: We got to go home.
HENRY: What do you mean you got to go home? I’ve been carrying around this stuff all day. We got to start taping it to your leg. We got to-
LOIS: I got to go home and get my hat.
HENRY: Forget your fucking hat! What are you kidding me? Just what I need now. A trip to Rockaway because you want to get your hat?
LOIS: I need it. I got to have it. It’s my lucky hat. I never fly without it.
HENRY: Lois. Do you understand what we are involved in here?
LOIS: I don’t care. I need my hat. I won’t fly without it.
He gives up and decides to drive her for her hat when he gets arrested.
Right now the Mets and their management and fans are living through that scene. How so?
Like Henry, the team was been in an absolute frenzy in the last 5 weeks. After being in second place and barely above .500 for the entire year, a flurry of moves and a collapsing Nationals squad has catapulted the Mets into first.
They have a 6 game lead on Washington with less than a month to go. If they can avoid a 2007 or 2008 like face plant, the Mets can be Division Champs. And they will avoid the NL Central teams in the Division Series, putting them in position to make the NLCS. And who knows? They might catch a Cardinals, Pirates or Cubs team off guard. Maybe they can win the pennant. And any team in the AL is beatable. The Mets can be relevant for the first time since opening CitiField, they can capture the city from the Yankees… it is all coming together.
Can’t you hear the drum beats from Nilsson’s Jump Into The Fire going?
And suddenly, Matt Harvey is dropping the bombshell that 180 innings is his limit.
Remember Harvey? “The Real Deal”. “The Dark Knight”. The new face of the franchise. The kid from local Connecticut who was going to be hope of the Mets.
He is having a fine season after sitting out the entire 2014 campaign post Tommy John surgery. And everyone supposedly learned the lesson of Stephen Strasburg and the 2012 Nationals: You need to go for it when you have the shot and if you need to find a way to get your top arms in the post season, you do it.
The Mets suggested 6 man rotations and other remedies. Harvey would have none of it, wanting the ball every 5 days.
And now, somehow the innings limit is a hard cap. What is another word for a cap?
Now Mets management, all wired up is thinking “We are a few weeks from clinching the Division and you are worrying about a God Damn cap?”
Harvey won’t go anywhere. His doctor and agent, the beloved Scott Boras, told him about the cap.
I expect Mets management to say “Harvey, do you understand what we are involved in here?” only to have him respond “I don’t care. I need my cap.”
Look, I am not saying that I want Harvey to pitch until his arm breaks like Dave Dravecky’s. But if 180 innings was going to be a hard cap, shouldn’t everyone have known before he hit 166 1/3?
Yes, a rotation of deGrom, Syndergaard, Niese and the ageless and evidently nimble Colon would be fine in a post season series. But if the Mets are to face the Dodgers in the Division Series and take on Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, they need DEPTH in their staff.
As the Nationals found out in 2012, they would have been better off with a star pitcher in a limited role than sitting on the bench.
Now Met fans, who praised him as their beloved homegrown star, have turned on him. They have labeled him a quitter, which is the one unforgivable sin in fans’ eyes.
A plan needed to be in place from the beginning of the year including the Strasburg contingency in case they took over first place unexpectedly. Instead what should be a month long countdown to the post season for Mets fans has turned into week after week of sweaty palms and worrying about the inevitable.
If only they figured out what to do about “the hat.”