Originally posted on Metstradamus  |  Last updated 3/3/13
There's a distinction that fans used to get wrong all the time. It revolved around natural talent and hard work, and the best of the best. Take Michael Jordan, for example. I'd be willing to bet that for every hundred people that rave about his natural ability, there might be one that focuses on how hard Jordan worked. You can dispute whether Jordan was the greatest basketball player of all time. What I believe to be indisputable is that no basketball player reached the highest level of athletic ability, hard work, and a desire to be the best that he could be and leave nothing on the table. And when you look at the GOAT in any sport, they all have that combination: ability, work ethic, inner focus and drive. Now you're probably thinking "Oh Lord, which New York Met is this idiot going to compare to Michael Freakin' Jordan?" Be skeptical all you want. But when I see the ability that Matt Harvey has, and then combine that with his desire to want to be "perfect" as he told Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez on the WPIX broadcast on Saturday, I think to myself that we could really have something special here if the Mets don't do something stupid like trade him or let him walk if he asks for any more than minimum wage. And again, this isn't to compare him to Michael Jordan (despite the fact that I titled this post "MH", in what is a pure troll move by me). This is only to illustrate that Harvey seems to have the entire package to be an upper echelon pitcher in this game. Harvey went two and two-thirds on Saturday against the Marlins, only giving up a leadoff home run to Christian Yelich (giving up home runs to left handers seem to be his bugaboo so far this spring) in an 8-8 tie. (This game also featured a home run by Lucas Duda to center field, which makes everybody feel a little bit better about life for a day.) After his outing was when Harvey expressed his desire to be perfect, knowing full well he won't be. Baseball players are nothing more than a cross-section of life. Think about your job. You have people who want to be the best at what they do, and others who just show up and do enough to earn the paycheck. Some baseball players have top shelf ability, some have top shelf work ethic. The ones who have both stay in the league the longest (barring injury, of course.) If Harvey lives up to the ability we've seen, and never lets up on that desire to be perfect, then ... let's just say the possibilities are endless. Of course, we all thought the possibilities were endless when the Mets traded for Johan Santana. And outside of some solid seasons and some fleeting moments, it wasn't what we thought it would be. Now, when we're all hoping that Santana can do just enough to keep his trade value up so that Sandy Alderson can pull off another trade deadline miracle, it looks like Johan won't be quite ready to start the season, and the reason is puzzling: The Mets believe ace pitcher Johan Santana wasn't in pitching shape when Mets camp began, which is what led to his shutdown early in camp. The team has found no soundness issues with his arm, beyond him not being ready to go. He's working hard now so he won't miss his Opening Day start, which is in jeopardy. "(The) arm seems to be fine, (he) just was not in pitching shape when he arrived,'' Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said by text. "He tried to rest physically and mentally (this winter) and use spring training to get in shape,'' Santana's agent Peter Greenberg said by phone. "The goal was to be ready Opening Day or as close as possible. Mentally, as much as physically, he was burned out. He decided he needed a full break.'' I understand Santana being burned out, having spent most of the last two seasons or so rehabbing. And Johan did need to have a normal, restful off season. But did he take it too far? Was he eating Malomars with Oliver Perez and Teddy Higuera? The line about using spring training to get in shape is baffling, mainly because this isn't the 1950's anymore and players no longer come into spring training with pot bellies and work it off in the spring. Players come into the spring in shape because they don't want to lose their job, and because the best way to get in shape is to stay in shape. My reported view on all this:Santana thought best for team/health to rest. Didn't work out. Some mets ppl cranky, some give benefit of doubt — Andy Martino (@MartinoNYDN) March 2, 2013 So some people are mad, others like Dan Warthen don't see the big deal. I don't know what to think. There always seems to be some underlying crankiness among anonymous Mets types when stuff like this goes wrong, so I'm not sure I trust these people who are cranky, nor their motivation for being cranky. I mean, are we talking coaches, who want him on the field to win ball games? Or suits who want a big name on the field to market? I just don't know, and I'm not going to pretend to know. But what I do know is that if Santana worked out like a fiend and pulled a muscle lifting weights we'd be killing him for that too. If Santana really thought resting was the best thing for his health and for the Mets this year, then even though he might be wrong I'm not going to kill him for having everyone's best interests in mind. It is a shame that it has to come to this ... another bad turn for a pitcher whose Met possibilities were once as endless as Matt Harvey's are now.
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