Published August 27. 2013 4:00AM
We've watched baseball differently this season because of Matt Harvey. It's more personal. It's not like this corner of the world has much history tethered to what's become one of the biggest shows on Broadway.
You don't even have to know Matt to know Matt. Maybe you do know him. Maybe you played against him. Maybe you know Ed, his dad. Maybe you were a student of his or a player during the 400-win, three-state-championship career. Maybe you know Jackie, his mom, a Venditti, and aren't there a million of them, or maybe you were a student of hers. Or your children had her for a teacher.
Maybe you know Jocelyn or Jess, Matt's sisters. Ross or Mike, his brothers in law. Maybe you're a neighbor. The point: The Matt Harvey story has numerous tentacles around here.
All of which establishes a baseline for the alarming, if not eye-opening reactions to the announcement Monday that Harvey has a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. The idea that Harvey might need Tommy John surgery - accent on the word "might" at the moment - reiterates how cavalierly professional athletes are viewed.
They're property, not people. Translation: Other interested parties see surgery as a foregone conclusion and fret over the future of the Mets pitching staff. Some of us see Ed and Jackie's kid whose prognosis is still unknown because the diagnosis is still unknown. We see surgery as invasive. They see it as necessary to run the ace back out there.
Hey, we've all thought that way about our guys and our teams. It's just that maybe - just maybe - Harvey gives us pause the next time we get irritated because surgery, or lack thereof, could delay a return or threaten the future of our team.
We're still talking about a human being.
Then there's this: Surgery is possible. Not inevitable. Just because other pitchers with similar ailments have succumbed to the knife, doesn't mean Harvey will. Or won't. We don't know. Nobody knows. Yet.
"There is some swelling in the forearm now and maybe some in the elbow as well," general manager Sandy Alderson said during his news conference televised by SNY. "In the next week or 10 days the swelling goes down and it could be an opportunity for maybe a clear image. The determination will be made by Matt himself with advice from Dr. (David) Altchek and perhaps a second opinion."
And so do you know what we know about this right now? It's all maybe, possibly and could be. And yet the alarmists are yelping. Maybe fatalism is a Met thing. Maybe Met fans see every ice cube as one day growing up to sideswipe Titanic.
Harvey said several times during his news conference that he'd like to avoid surgery if possible. And yet most of the questions from the Met media were about surgery. The surgery that is a possibility, sure. But nothing more than that right now.
The tone of the questions: Pitch through it? But what if the elbow stays in the back of your mind? Would you really be able to let it fly when you return?
I get the questions.
But could we save them for the day Harvey knows for sure whether surgery will happen?
How many times did Harvey, Alderson and manager Terry Collins have to say, "I don't know" before they took the hint?
It wasn't long ago Harvey was Superman. Now the immediate future is imperiled. Maybe Matt Harvey reinforces this, too: Next time we overdose on self-entitlement for expectations about our teams and their seasons, just remember the fragility of it all. And how it could go poof faster than it takes one of Harvey's two-seamers to reach home plate.
The good news, as Alderson said, is that "this is not a career-ending injury under any stretch of the imagination."
That means Matt Harvey will pitch again.
Hopefully sooner than later.
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.