By In Stuff

Harvey and Federer

A couple of links from NBC SportsWorld:

The Last Stand of Fed: Roger Federer and the the end.

Gotham’s Fallen Hero: When he announced that his doctor wanted him to shut things down at 180 innings there was panic and fury in the streets of New York. So he pitched. And … where are those people now?

50 Responses to Harvey and Federer

  1. Dave says:

    Joe, completely agree with your take on Harvey. Thanks for publishing it; the outcry from Mets fans last year that Harvey continue pitching was not just selfish, but arguably immoral.

    • Surly Duff says:

      Joe is absolutely right about Harvey. You are absolutely wrong about Mets fans.

      A fan is, essentially, a robot, programmed to ferociously seek one thing and one thing only – winning. A player’s health is of value to a fan only insofar as it helps the club win. And a fan cannot be expected to weigh the pros and cons of training regimens and recovery protocol. That is the job of the player, agent, and management; and it is also the job of those people to deliver bad news to fans if that is what it takes to protect the player’s, and the club’s, long term well-being.

      Last year, shutting down Harvey would have been very bad news for Mets fans. But here’s the thing – it would also have been very bad news for the Mets’ playoff chances. The fans correctly recognized this. They also recognized that playoff opportunities don’t come around very often (a hard truth that has so far been vindicated this season).

      Most importantly, the fans aren’t looking for a freebie. Were it up to the fans, Harvey would have collected every single cent of the cash he generated last year. That is, the fans wanted to see Harvey do his job, help his team win, and get compensated accordingly. That is not immoral.

      • Dave says:

        Keep telling yourself that

        • Surly Duff says:

          *talking to myself*

          Dave is absolutely wrong. Dave is absolutely wrong. Dave is absolutely wrong.

          • Puckpaul11 says:

            i agree with Surly Duff. Surly you can’t be serious, Dave. only one guilty in the Mets arena is the Wilponzies. if they would have spent to fill the team in (and gotten a real manager) Mets could have won anyway.

    • Brett Alan says:

      I think you, and Joe, are completely unaware of what really happened with Harvey last year.

      Through most of the year, every time the Mets tried to protect Harvey’s arm, Harvey wasn’t happy. The Mets talked about going to a six man rotation, and Harvey was against it. The Mets talked about skipping his turn in the rotation; Harvey wanted none of it. The Mets pulled him from games early; Harvey complained. THAT was the context of Harvey’s agent wanting to cap him off at a firm 180 innings. It wasn’t that Harvey wanted his innings limited, but that it at least seemed to fans was “hey, I want to pitch as much as I can” had suddenly turned into “let me use up all my innings so I get outta here.” I’m not saying that’s what Harvey was really thinking, but that’s how it seemed to Mets fans.

      I don’t know whether Mets fans would have had the same reaction if Harvey hadn’t been against limiting his innings before that. I know my own reaction would have been different, but that’s just me. But I think Joe’s piece really misses part of the story.

    • Dave says:

      Speaking of immoral, JoePa is back in the news. I wonder how people will defend him now.

      “The victim, who was identified in court records as John Doe 150, said that while he was attending a football camp at Penn State, Sandusky touched him as he showered. Sandusky’s finger penetrated the boy’s rectum, Doe testified in court in 2014, and the victim asked to speak with Paterno about it. Doe testified that he specifically told Paterno that Sandusky had sexually assaulted him, and Paterno ignored it.

      “Is it accurate that Coach Paterno quickly said to you, ‘I don’t want to hear about any of that kind of stuff, I have a football season to worry about?’” the man’s lawyer asked him in 2014.

      “Specifically. Yes . . . I was shocked, disappointed, offended. I was insulted. . . I said, is that all you’re going to do? You’re not going to do anything else?”

      Paterno, the man testified, just walked away.”

      • horse14 says:

        Joe Posnanski will conveniently ignore it and instead complain about how the Freeh report was incomplete, a cynical misdirection ploy he learned from the Paterno family.
        He long ago sold out his integrity on the subject, so why stop now? At least he still has these few fawning commenters here always saying how wonderful he is despite the fact that he’s written the same 4 or 5 columns for the last 20 years. Meanwhile the rest of the world knows what a travesty his Paterno book was.

        • Dave says:

          @horse14, you didn’t add much of value to @Dave’s comment besides total negativity towards Joe. Sorry you decided to pick now to slam Joe Pos with little regard to this post. I’d have liked to hear more detail as to his “same 4 or 5 columns for the last 20 years” – maybe then one could rebut.

          @Dave, as a Penn State alumni I am extremely saddened to hear about today’s new on Joe Pa. I looked up to him in the 1970s (and for another 20 years after that) but this pretty much nails the coffin closed – he either knew or (just as bad) didn’t care to find out because – to use the words in JD 150’s testimony – he had a football season to worry about.

          All, I rarely comment on this blog and am not the @Dave who has commented on this post a couple of times.

          • horse14 says:

            Even now you hedge! He knew, he actively knew. No qualifiers.

            Why do I attack Joe Pos now? Because he stays cocooned in this little echo chamber. Or we hear of him speaking at PSU dinners.

            This is all you need to know about Joe’s writing: Pre-conceived viewpoint, silly strawman argument he aw shucks refutes. Repeat ten times.

            This is fine when talking hall of fame or golf. But when he did this repeatedly regarding Penn St. is was despicable. Was it ego? Or money? Both probably.

          • Dave says:

            First off @horse14, sorry for the reply here in this thread. (I can’t find the reply button to, uh, your reply to my reply!)

            “Even now I hedge”? Really? Where? I said Joe Pa either knew or didn’t care to know. You are really passing judgement on my words way too harshly. Particularly for a person who is dead and has no way to defend himself. (Now, THAT to me would be an interesting thing to witness.) Personally, I’m glad to know that YOU know what is truth. (And yeah, I’m also glad you aren’t on a jury – I hope – right now with no pre-judging of guilt or innocence.)

            Until you tell me the details of Joe Pos “4 or 5 columns” he has in him over the “last 20 years”, well, you make it very hard to argue how accurate that point you’re trying to make is. BTW, *this* is the more important criticism you made so far.

        • CB says:

          Well put. Posnanski is the Spielberg of sports writers, except Spielberg was never an apologist for a pedophile-enabler.

        • Marc Schneider says:

          You are pretty sanctimonious here, aren’t you? He wrote a book you don’t like so you come on here and shit on everyone who happens to like his writing. And, then you conflate his defense of Paterno with his writing, as if he must be a bad writer because of that. If you dislike Posnanski so much, why do you bother coming onto his blog? So you can show how morally superior you are?

      • MikeN says:

        Wasn’t Paterno dead by then, and unable to reply to the charge, which conveniently provides more money to the testifier if he can make more people guilty than just Sandusky?

      • MikeN says:

        I find it pretty hard to believe the person actually said what he testified to:
        “Is that all you’re going to do? You’re not going to do anything else?”
        Sounds more like a dramatic statement for effect.
        Alternatively I can believe they were thinking that.

    • Jack Bartram says:

      As a Nats’ fan, I can tell you that I was overjoyed that the Nats sat Strasburg through the post-season when they did and put his long-term health above the short term gains of the team. Chances are nothing bad would have come from it, but the potential also exists that an injury prone guy could have been permanently damaged by pitching another 30+ innings that season. Much like it seems has happened to Harvey.

  2. Brent says:

    I usually agree with you Joe, but the way that the free agent system is set up, it would be wrong for small market teams to sacrifice short term success for the long term health of a pitcher (who is going to be pitching for someone else later in his career). The Royals don’t win the WS in 1985 if they babied Bret Saberhagen (or Danny Jackson for that matter). Should the Twins have taken care with Johan Santana? The A’s done the same with Hudson, Mulder and Zito? Don’t teams have an obligation to their fans to win now if possible? I think Santana is a perfect example of how the system makes it so the small market team can ONLY compete if they overuse their assets when they are cheap. In his 8 years with the Twins, he amassed 35.5 bWAR (while earning almost 29 million). In his 5 years with the Mets, he amassed 15.2 bWAR (while earning almost $133 million, which counts the paid salary in 2013 and the contract buyout). Sorry, but that is the chance that the big market teams have to take when they sign the talent developed by other teams to big contracts. Now, in Strasburg and Harvey’s cases, those are big market teams and if they want to take extra care with assets that they could resign someday, that is a decision they will have to make. But to expect the A’s to take care with Sonny Gray or the Royals to take with Yordano Ventura, just because it would be better for the players at age 30 when they will be pitching for the Yankees or the Red Sox, well that is a bit much for fans of small market teams to stomach. Especially if it would mean that the small market team would be risking short term success, which is likely going to be fleeting.

    • Sadge says:

      I don’t think he is necessarily saying that the teams should baby the players. I think he is pointing out that the teams rarely take care of a player after they are done, even if they have sacrificed their long term potential.

      It will be interesting to see how things play out with Harvey compared to Strasburg.

    • Marc Schneider says:

      First, the Mets aren’t a small market team. Second, I think any employer has an obligation to at least consider it’s employee’s well-being. This is a matter of their livelihoods. I’m sorry but small market fans don’t get to ruin someone’s life just because they are at a disadvantage vis a vis large market teams. (And it’s not clear that they are at that much of a disadvantage any more.)

      • invitro says:

        “First, the Mets aren’t a small market team.”
        He didn’t say they were.
        “Second, I think any employer has an obligation to at least consider it’s employee’s well-being.”
        They do, and not only an obligation, but a legal requirement: see OSHA and its legions of relatives.

      • Puckpaul11 says:

        owned by the Wilsons they are a small market team.

  3. Darrel says:

    I think you have a valid point Brent but the bigger issue I take with the Harvey article isn’t the overuse aspect but the “value” aspect of Joe’s argument. He leaves us the impression that somehow there are actual tens of millions of dollars ending up in the pockets of Mets ownership when in reality that is a made up estimation based on the “value” of a win on the free agent market. This isn’t real money he is talking about. If we want to start paying young stars those actual dollars then I suggest we send Joe as a collection agent to houses belonging to Jeter, A-Rod, Howard, Rollins, Pujols etc. asking them to return all of the money they stole from their owners when they were paid like stars and could not produce like one. Then I’m happy to give Harvey his share.

    • invitro says:

      “He leaves us the impression that somehow there are actual tens of millions of dollars ending up in the pockets of Mets ownership when in reality that is a made up estimation based on the “value” of a win on the free agent market.”

      Indeed. And even if they were actual millions of dollars, it’s ignorant to assume all or even a significant fraction end up enriching the owners. The dollars are actually going to the veteran players, the team management, the stadium staff, the training camps, the uniform designers, Bobby Bonilla, etc., etc.

      • Marc Schneider says:

        Right and, of course, NONE of the additional revenue is profit. That’s why teams appreciate in value because there are no profits at all. I guess owners simply operate the teams as a civic duty.

        (And, before people accuse me of being a socialist, I don’t have a problem with owners making a profit. And, obviously, not all the revenue generated is pure profit because there are costs. But it’s silly to act as if the owners don’t benefit at all.)

  4. mark says:

    There is a simple solution to the problem of underpaying baseball players when young and overpaying when old. Make everyone free agents from the start, but make no contract guaranteed for longer than 1-3 years max. To get a bit more complicated but really make sense: allow guaranteed contracts for up to 6 years until age 24 (based on player’ age at start of the contract); then make that period one year shorter for each year the player ages. No long term guaranteed contracts for 30+ year olds, but every player gets what he deserves based on current production from the beginning of his career. Players in their early 20s will have an option: take a guaranteed contract that provides security through age 26, far beyond what they could get now, but if they do so they live with that choice if they break our 2 years later. OTOH if they wash out 2 years later they still get paid. Play around with the years and ages — I’m not wedded to the specifics as much as the structure.
    I realize it has its own issues. No system will handle all contingencies perfectly. And the union and most owners would never ever go for it. Small markets will probably be as wary of it as the union will.
    PS I considered the idea that contracts could be guaranteed outside these parameters but only so long as the player is injured while playing baseball. In theory it solves one of the problems of my proposal and adds fairness, but in practice — given the nature of sports labor arbitration — the players will probably never lose those disputes and the limit on guaranteed contracts for over-the-hill players will be non-existent.

  5. David says:

    Joe, one thing I think you’ve said (and you said on a recent Poscast, as well) that I’ve seen proven patently wrong is this statement, from the Harvey article: “Who else do we ask this of? Would we ask it of our friends — hey, take a little less money so that the company can run a bit more smoothly?”

    I’m a pastor. I’ve never been asked this, but I absolutely HAVE seen people asked to do so. My mother and wife are teachers. They have been in districts that have mostly been safe from salary cuts, but my mom HAS been asked, and literally millions of teachers around the country have been asked to do this over and over again. We actually do this all the time. You are correct in that no one should HAVE to do it. But for some reason, people in “caring” fields are just as expected to do this as athletes are. “You really care about the work – it’s MORE THAN A JOB to you, therefore you should be treated worse than we would treat someone else.” Basically, anyone who has the fortune of doing something they truly feel privileged to do will, at some point, be asked to take less money than their skills demand. And many of them DO do so – not just athletes. That doesn’t make it right. It’s up to the individual. I just choose not to judge, whether they go with the money or the hometown team. Everyone’s just doing what they believe to be best, and I’m perfectly fine with that.

    • Marc Schneider says:

      That’s probably true, but athletes have a risk of having their entire careers derailed. Yes, they make a lot of money but it’s all relative. No one seemingly expects doctors or lawyers or CEOs to take less money to help their organizations. And, for the most part, teachers, firefighters, etc. are sacrificing to help public organizations. That’s different than asking an athlete to take less money to help someone who is, in most cases, a billionaire. Team owners are not running eleemosynary organizations so I don’t see why the players should be expected to help them out. And it’s not a “privilege” to play ball for a living; they are hired because they have rare and valuable skills that generate revenue for the owners. I think it’s unfortunate that people in the helping professions often do have to sacrifice because citizens don’t value their contributions sufficiently. But comparing them to athletes is sort of apples to oranges.

      • invitro says:

        “And it’s not a “privilege” to play ball for a living; they are hired because they have rare and valuable skills that generate revenue for the owners.”

        You say this like it’s impossible for the players to both have valuable skills, and also be privileged. They’re not only privileged to have a job that tens of millions of Americans can only dream of having, they’re privileged to have that job at the specific time in world history when pro athletes are most valued, by an enormous margin.

        • Knuckles says:

          It’s not a privilege. Another word people throw around today that have no idea what it means. If baseball players were “privileged” they would just be friends and dopes of the owners paid to play based on no merit or skill.

          If working hard to hone your athletic skills to achieve something is “privilege” then what isn’t?

  6. Ian says:

    Loved your Federer article. It amazes me how great he was and I was hoping he could pull out one more slam.

    • Marc Schneider says:

      The thing is, he is still a great player, just not as great as he was and not quite good enough to win a Slam. I mean, if Djokovic (and earlier Nadal) was not around, Federer probably would have already won several more Slams. I suspect he would have given Murray a better match at Wimbledon than Raonic did.

      • MikeN says:

        If Nadal weren’t injured HE would be the all time leader in Slams.

          • MikeN says:

            Roger’s French Open win gone if Nadal is at full strength. At his peak, Nadal was beating Federer regularly. Take away the French and you are already at 16-15, and Nadal easily takes two more with no injuries. It is probably 18-14.

  7. shagster says:

    Well said. For a while it’s seemed like Murray Chass has been one of the few writer covering ‘the long game’ stories about players, owners, agents, and managements alefforts to convince us to part with a few bucks. They’re as revealing about us as they are the players. And one suspects there are similar kinds of stories to be told than just those about the NY Teams. It’s good to see someone of your chops add another voice to it.

  8. Marc Schneider says:

    As a Nats fan, I think they did the right thing with Strasburg by shutting him down in 2012 even if it did potentially cost them in the playoffs. Yes, Washington is a relatively large market-although it’s split with Baltimore, it’s not as if DC is New York or Chicago. I am just stunned at all the Mets fans who began criticizing Harvey when he struggled this year as if him jeopardizing his career for them wasn’t enough.

  9. Richard says:

    I’ve been wondering recently if the Mets are sort of “snakebit”. I don’t want to use the term “cursed”; it’s been overused.

    Whenever they get a good team together, something happens to prevent a sustained run of success. Players get injured (or self-destruct, as with the 86 Mets), or it turns out the Mets were just lucky. Their pitchers couldn’t give them a no-hitter; but once they left the Mets…. Seaver, Gooden, Cone…. When Johan Santana finally got them a no-hitter, the effort broke him. Players they trade away in what were actually good deals for them at the time turn into stars (Nolan Ryan, Daniel Murphy, Mike Scott). Now it seems that they cannot keep a healthy team on the field….

    • Marc Schneider says:

      Murphy wasn’t traded; he was a free agent, although, in effect, they got Walker in a trade to replace him.

  10. Jesse K. says:

    Thanks for the Federer article. With his lack of a major title these last four years, it’s sometimes easy to forget how great he was. Even more, it’s easy to forget how very, very good he still is. It’s a remarkable achievement to be ranked No. 3 at age 34 (nearly 35).

    Remember how adored Agassi was in his final years? We talked of how amazing it was that he was still out there at his age, still playing well. So far, Federer–despite no majors–has far eclipsed what Agassi did in the twilight of his career. After age 33: RF, 16 finals, 9 titles. AA, 6 finals, 2 titles. (To be fair, I cherry-picked age 33 to prove a point. Agassi did win several tournaments, including the Aussie Open, shortly before turning 33.)

    The context indicates you meant Grand Slam tournaments, but Federer was upset on rare occasions in his prime. Running a 41-match winning streak, Federer was beaten by Guillermo Canas at Indian Wells in 2007…then AGAIN in Miami! I remember RF saying afterwards “It just shows you how tough it is…” In other words, it’s not always easy for the best player in the world, even against a lucky loser recently returned from a suspension.

  11. invitro says:

    I think worrying about Harvey is silly. He is a grown man, sound of mind, with resources far beyond those of us or likely most anyone we know. If he can’t take care of himself, who can? Accidents happen to everyone. Having compassion for victims of accidents or bad luck is a good thing. Having hatred for everyone even tangentially related to the victim is getting really old, really quickly.
    If you want a story, I think the upcoming Olympics in Rio could turn out to be one of the biggest nightmares in sports history. But I’m not sure if it’s reasonable to think that. You should write about that. About the facts involved, and the fears of the athletes who are going. Are their fears grounded? Should their loved ones discourage them from going? Or rather, try to ease their fears, and encourage them? Well, I suppose we’ll find out in a couple of weeks.

    • Marc Schneider says:

      I think that, typically, fears of disaster are somewhat overblown. It probably won’t be as bad as people think, although we won’t know for some time afterward. But if I was a loved one, I couldn’t encourage them to go. But that’s from a pessimist who assumes things can always get worse. Moreover, I suspect the “facts” here are in some dispute.

    • Richard says:

      I agree that we should be concerned. Dengue Fever is a serious illness that infects millions of people every year, and causes some 10,000 deaths. It is endemic to the tropics, and spreading….. Fortunately, the standard methods for controlling and dealing with mosquitoes are reasonably effective, and it can be treated if caught quickly enough.

      (Dengue fever is transmitted by the same mosquito that carries the Zika virus….)

  12. Vidor says:

    I don’t think that the answer to the Matt Harvey problem is to encourage pitchers to quit on their team.

    It is silly to characterize wanting Harvey to pitch last year as “immoral”. The games are played to win. Teams play to win. The Mets were trying to win a World Series; the function of the team is to win baseball games, not to improve Matt Harvey’s bargaining position. And it would be indescribably bad for the game of baseball if ace pitchers on championship-caliber teams started quitting at the ends of seasons rather than pitch in the World Series.

    The Mets asked Matt Harvey for nothing more than to do his job. Which, to his great credit, he did. It’s terribly sad that Harvey got hurt before he hit free agency, although of course that could have happened to him even if he quit when James Andrews told him to or even earlier. It’s also terribly unfair that great young players are hugely underpaid. I don’t know what the solution is, but I think the solution lies somewhere in getting young players paid closer to market value, not in encouraging pitchers to quit on their teams.

    • Marc Schneider says:

      No one is saying pitchers should “quit” on their team. But if you are going to say teams are playing to win regardless the cost to the players, then the player has every right to do what he needs to do to protect his career. If that means “quitting” on the team, so be it. Sure, he could get hurt regardless of how he was handled, just as someone could get lung cancer even if they don’t smoke. But, there is still a matter of prudence as to how to handle pitchers coming back from surgery.

      • Vidor says:

        Yes they are. That’s exactly what you’re saying. You are saying that pitchers should quit on their team. You don’t like it put that way, because you find the phrasing unpleasant. But that’s what you want.

        The mindset here is fascinating. Pitching a baseball is compared to smoking. But there is no person out there who is paid to smoke, whose entire job is smoking. Matt Harvey was a pitcher for the New York Mets, who was being paid to pitch, who signed a contract in which he said that he would pitch. But apparently, he’s supposed to quit on his team, because Dr. James Andrews told him to.

        You may want a future where Dr. Andrews decides postseason rotations. I do not.

        And certainly Harvey had the right to quit last fall. If he had done so, the Mets would have had the right to withhold his salary, and indeed they should have done so. And every baseball fan in America would have the right to call Harvey a quitter, and it would have been true, because he would have been quitting. And please, it bears repeating many more times that he might have had this injury even if he had quit as you wish he had. The binary choice you present is a false one.

        I wish young players weren’t so grossly underpaid. I wish player paychecks were more closely aligned with talent level and production than with service time to the exclusion of other factors. Maybe all contracts should be of short duration, as suggest above in this comment thread. Maybe all players should be arbitration-eligible every year. But encouraging pitchers to quit, as you and Joe wanted Harvey to quit, is bad for the sport.

  13. MikeN says:

    When I read articles like this it reminds of a response to Rob Neyer
    “You favor players who don’t hit the ball, don’t pitch the ball, and don’t go out of their way to catch the ball.”

  14. Andy says:

    Is Joe not linking his new NBC SportsWorld pieces any longer?

    • MikeN says:

      He is probably preparing an intro for Brady is INNOCENT.
      He is also right. He left out one detail, even the Wells Report contains within it proof of Brady’s innocence(assuming their simulations are correct, which if they are not they have no case).

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