I was trying to determine yesterday what, if anything, could possibly elevate Mets super-soph SP Matt Harvey any higher in my estimation than the stratosphere-scraping heights he’s already reached in his brief professional career. Finally (!) hurling a no-hitter? Dating a second supermodel? Starting every 3rd day instead of every 5th?
OK, any of those things would be nice — particularly the first. But none really compare to the following tale, as relayed by Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan.
During his rookie season last year, Harvey was tired and decided to take a nap in a side room of the Mets’ clubhouse. One of baseball’s stupid decrees goes something like: Rookies pretty much can’t do anything. That includes nap. The self-appointed enforcer of this rule was Jon Rauch, the 6-foot-11 relief pitcher with head-to-toe tattoos and the sort of perma-snarl reserved for nuns and rabid dogs.
Rauch, according to people who saw the incident, barged into the room with bucket of ice water, which he proceeded to dump on Harvey. It waterlogged Harvey’s phone, which was resting on his chest as an alarm, and incited an even more electrical reaction inside Harvey.
He bounded up and challenged Rauch to a fight. Right there. Right then. He gave up 7 inches, about 75 pounds and a gallon or so of bad ink. It didn’t matter that he was a rookie. Harvey would not be a joke. He would not be a punch line in Rauch’s re-telling. He would not let some mediocre clown play him.
From that day forth, everyone who witnessed the incident or heard about it understood a new Mets commandment: Thou shalt not trifle with Matt Harvey.