Should Matt Harvey start the All-Star Game? Doesn't matter

Matt Harvey of the Mets pitches against the Matt Harvey of the Mets pitches against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field (June 28, 2013) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

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Anthony Rieber Newsday columnist Anthony Rieber

Anthony Rieber has been at Newsday since Aug. 31, 1998 and in his current position since July 4, ...

Confession: I used to love the All-Star Game. I used to follow the voting closely in the papers in the age before Twitter. I'd get really ticked if the players from my favorite team didn't make the squad or the starting lineup. I never missed an inning.

Then I turned 11.

Please remember this if you're stressing about whether Matt Harvey hurt his chances of starting the July 16 All-Star Game at Citi Field by allowing five runs in six-plus innings in a 5-3 loss to the Diamondbacks.

If you're a Mets fan, you should be more concerned with when Harvey is going to start Game 1 of a playoff series. In his lifetime, hopefully?

As for the Midsummer Classic: Yes, even after Wednesday night, Harvey should start for the National League. Because the game is in Flushing. Because he has been among the best, if not the best, pitcher in the National League. Because the Mets are willing to make a slight adjustment to their rotation to keep him eligible for the plum assignment.

Wednesday night, though, Harvey's candidacy might have taken a hit. He tied his career high in runs allowed in a game delayed at the start until 9:01 p.m. by rain.

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Harvey (7-2) threw 52/3 shutout innings before Cody Ross hit his 95th pitch -- a hanging slider -- for a three-run homer to left to give Arizona a 3-2 lead.

Harvey followed the flight of the high drive, hoping Eric Young Jr. could catch it in the corner. But it fell a few rows into the lower deck as the sellout Fireworks Night crowd of 41,257 sat stunned.

Harvey allowed nine hits with three walks and nine strikeouts. His ERA went from 2.00 to 2.27. He also gave up five runs to the Padres in San Diego in his third major-league start last Aug. 5.

So nobody's putting the 24-year-old in the Hall of Fame yet. So far, he has only been immortalized in the pages of ESPN The Magazine, wearing just a white robe in a photo that was released Wednesday to drum up interest in the "Body" issue.

The naked truth is that Harvey has all of the physical components and mental makeup to one day join the ranks of baseball's best, and not just for one calendar year. But that means he'll have to stay healthy for a long time. If Mets fans are lucky, they'll get to enjoy the journey as the team evolves into one worthy of their intense ace.

Since he came up last July, Harvey has shown that the best pitch in baseball is a 97 mph fastball and the best attitude is believing you are destined to be an all-time great.

For now, the All-Star Game start is the top honor Harvey can get this year. And it's still quite possible he will throw the first pitch in that game.

National League manager Bruce Bochy of the Giants said the other day that the game being in Flushing "should play a part, if all things are equal."

"He's all fired up about the All-Star situation,'' Mets manager Terry Collins said, noting that Harvey will next pitch in front of Bochy in San Francisco on Monday.

But it's really, really, really OK if Bochy goes with major-league ERA leader Clayton Kershaw or Adam Wainwright or Jordan Zimmermann or whoever else he thinks is best suited for the job.

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The game does have some meaning, with homefield advantage in the World Series for the winning league, and Bochy's Giants team knows what it's like to play in October.

Harvey doesn't. Not yet and not until the Mets make some serious strides. That's what's worth stressing about. Not this.

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