Tweet and sour: Time for Matt Harvey to grow up

Mets pitcher Matt Harvey looks on from the

Mets pitcher Matt Harvey looks on from the dugout against the St. Louis Cardinals in an MLB baseball game at Citi Field on Tuesday, April 22, 2014. (Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke)

Remember that time Derek Jeter posted something offensive on Twitter and then decided to take down his account after the Yankees asked him to delete the post?

No? How about that time David Wright did it?

Still no?

That's the whole point about Tuesday's silly Matt Harvey/Twitter photo situation. Not that Harvey posted a photo in which he is giving the middle finger is all that shocking. Twitter has seen much, much worse.

The problem is that it seems to keep being Harvey who is involved in these little dustups. Not Jeter, whom Harvey said he wants to emulate. Not Wright, who is as positive a role model as New York sports has ever had.

In case you missed the details: Harvey commemorated the six-month anniversary of his Tommy John surgery Tuesday not with flowers or a card, but by posting a photo on his verified Twitter account (@MattHarvey33).

A smiling Harvey is giving the middle finger while waiting in his hospital bed for the surgery. He wrote, "I can't believe it's been 6 months already. #tommyjohn''

The Mets were not pleased. Public-relations executive Jay Horwitz -- an avid, if bizarre, user of Twitter himself -- asked Harvey to delete the photo.

"We felt the photo was inappropriate and I asked him to take it down,'' Horwitz said. "I never asked him to delete his account.''

But that's what Harvey did. This being 2014, the photo still made its way around the Internet quicker than one of Harvey's pre-surgery fastballs. And a debate on whether it was a big deal or not broke out.

Is it a big deal? Of course not. None of the many minor public-relations missteps Harvey has made since becoming one of the biggest sports stars in New York is by itself all that important.

It wasn't a big deal when he was "embarrassed'' after saying he wants to be like Jeter when it came to dating. That he apologized after relentlessly plugging a wireless product instead of answering questions about his elbow on a national radio show. That he sparred with the Mets about where he was going to do his rehab. That he seems to seek out celebrity with the same abandon he faced down hitters before his injury.

Taken all together, though? It's just too much.

The perception of the 25-year-old Harvey is probably what caused Mets manager Terry Collins to joke with him Tuesday, "Did you [expletive] up again?''

Harvey laughed. Then he sat in the dugout and answered questions for nearly 12 minutes. About half were about his rehab. The other half were about his Twitter photo, which he said was taken by his mother (!).

Remember: If Harvey didn't post the photo in the first place, there would have been no dugout news conference. He would have passed through the day virtually unnoticed.

"I'm not going to apologize for being myself and having a good laugh at a funny little picture,'' he said. "But I've had enough with Twitter and not being able to show your personal side . . . It wasn't me trying to bring bad press to the New York Mets or anything like that. It was my account, and I felt like it was a funny picture. Obviously, it was taken the wrong way, so I took it down.''

Harvey also said, "It's my personal account . . . I didn't think there was anything officially wrong with it.''

Sorry, but there was. Harvey represents the Mets and Major League Baseball. His social media postings need to be G-rated. PG, maybe. Just like many employees in many industries, what you share on social media reflects on your employer, too.

So now Harvey's not on Twitter. As of game time Tuesday night, he appeared to still be on the photo-sharing site Instagram at @MattHarvey33.

And so was the middle-finger photo, by the way.

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