Matt Harvey is getting hammered by some Mets fans and almost all New York sports media for not talking to reporters after losing to the Nationals on Tuesday night. It was the worst start of his career, following a string of poor performances and ever-growing expectations...
"There are precious few rules that a ballplayer needs to follow in these parts: play hard, stay out of jail, respect the game," Bob Klapisch writes Tuesday in the Bergen Record. "You're allowed to lose and even more generously, you're allowed to stink. But when you do, you better not hide. Stand up, face the cameras - face the public - and own it."
I agree that it's better for him to talk than not, from a public relations perspective. But, believe me, print journalists and talking heads will have plenty to say with or without a quote from Harvey. So, why the outrage?
Harvey has made 10 starts this season. And, 10 times after 10 starts he's literally been asked the same 10 questions, after which he gives the same 10 answers. It's redundant. It would have been the same show late Tuesday. The media didn't miss getting an illuminating quote from Harvey last night. They didn't miss out on him dishing a eureka moment. Instead, it missed getting a chance to poke at an angry Harvey, who likely would have said something overly emotional, which he would have eventually regretted. To me, Harvey was mature and self aware last night, not cowardly...
"Talking to the media is a player's decision and it's his right not to," former big-league pitcher, now SiriusXM host C.J. Nitkowski wrote Wednesday. "He doesn't owe it to Mets fans or teammates to do anything more than give his best efforts on the field and in his preparation for his starts. The notion that he left his teammates hanging out to dry is overblown. It's a tactic used by media to make Harvey look worse in this moment because he blew them off."
In March, Harvey was rightfully upset about how some newspapers and talking heads portrayed the blood clot in his bladder. He was honest about a serious situation, which probably scared him a bit, and they mocked him with immature leads and headlines.
So, why would he come out and be honest with them again? Perhaps he doesn't trust how he'll be portrayed. Once bitten, twice shy, right? And, can you blame him? Instead, I bet he chose to stay silent, because he believes no matter what he says it will be spun to fit whatever story is being written.
I'm not saying he's right or wrong to avoid speaking with reporters. But, speaking as someone that really doesn't care if he ever talks to me or anyone else - and speaking as a Mets fan, who cares most about what he does on the field - I can understand his decision to go directly home last night. It's easy to say otherwise, especially when hiding behind a keyboard, but If I were disappointed, angry and confused - feeling like it was me against the world - and I didn't trust the people with the pens, I'd probably ignore the media too.
Lastly, Harvey is only accountable to his teammates and the people that pay his salary. And, there are other ways to do that besides talking to a beat reporter after a terrible game when you're angry at the world.
In the end, Harvey has bigger fish to fry than reporters and talking heads. The fact is, if Harvey buries himself in a hole for a month and emerges to be better than ever, no fan or teammate will care about how he handled the media in May.
As is the same with most things in life, Harvey's actions will always speak louder than words, and maybe he knows that - and maybe that is why he blew off reporters Tuesday. Because, in the end, it's not what you say or what you are underneath, it's what you do that defines you.