When Matt Harvey announced he would undergo Tommy John surgery and likely miss the entire 2014 season, the New York Mets were forced to rethink their off-season plans.
My (bloodshot) eyes dropped, not in shame, but in search of explanation. My iPhone read 10:54 a.m.
By the time I arrived at Shea Stadium in mid-June, a Dwight Gooden start had become a New York event. I had been watching Gooden baffle opponents on television over the first two months of the 1985 season. The first month he shut out the Philadelphia Phillies twice and the Cincinnati Reds. From May and early June he pitched into the seventh inning in all seven of his starts. He was four days younger than I was for goodness sakes. It was time to see this with my own eyes, in person.
When the day arrives, and it's clear Zack Wheeler has "figured it out," this will be the day he will appreciate most. New York Mets fans will prefer to reflect on Wheeler's first MLB start, six shutout innings vs. Atlanta, but Sunday will be one of those starts that will educate the Mets rookie most as he moves forward.
Good baseball teams in a slump have hope. If a team has talented players there is every reason to be optimistic. It's a 162-game season and, rest assure, tomorrow could be the day things turn around and a good team gets hot. Pitchers start pitching. Hitters start hitting. Closers close. The club wins six, seven, eight in a row, 15 of their next 20 games. Confidence is restored. See St. Louis Cardinals.
For better or worse, Michael Bourn fell off the New York Mets radar Monday when he agreed to a four-year, $48 million deal with the Cleveland Indians.
You can learn a lot about a baseball team from its locker room. The clubhouse is where relationships form, character is revealed and leaders speak out (or not). For the major league rookie, clubhouse real estate is valuable -- sometimes priceless. Imagine being the rookie who spent eight months out of the year next to Sandy Koufax? Roberto Clemente? Lou Gehrig? Tom Seaver? These were model athletes, wise and humble men, who used their talent to teach.