David Lennon is an award-winning columnist and author who has been a staff writer at Newsday since 1991.
The Mets surfed the last waves of this latest Matt Harvey news cycle Wednesday, and as far as we could tell, escaped Citi Field without any further ripples as they departed for Los Angeles.
"We're going to make sure Matt gets to the plane and gets on board," Terry Collins said. "So he'll be with us tomorrow to work out, I think."
Joking aside, it's always something with the Mets, who are one of the few clubs capable of transforming three innocuous off days into talk-radio gold, with nary a syllable to do with the Division Series matchup against the Dodgers.StoryDarling on Harvey: 'It's not a big thing'StoryPedro thinks Mets must keep a close eye on Harvey
Hey, we love them for it. Think it's easy cranking out a few thousand words before a single meaningful pitch is thrown? But for those required to play the games, or manage them, discussing the effectiveness of Harvey's alarm clock gets old real fast.
Unless you're Collins, who for some overlooked reasons is the secret weapon of baseball's Barnum & Bailey outfit. With an antsy media corps milling around Wednesday for the next chapter in TunnelGate, Collins chose to conduct an unscheduled news conference of his own at the dugout rail.
"There's too much panic around here," Collins said, as reporters quickly jostled for position around him. "The place is just so tense. Should be enjoying this a little more."
For the record, we did see a number of Mets smiling occasionally, so we're not talking classroom detention here. But Collins was right. This light week at Citi, including a Monday recess from the media altogether, was supposed to be a chance to stay loose and keep sharp. Or maybe the other way around.
Instead, the Mets endured their requisite pratfall -- courtesy of Harvey's late arrival to Tuesday's workout -- then spent the remaining free time dusting themselves off. We're probably in the minority saying that Harvey's misstep, though a serious no-no in clubhouse circles, isn't exactly a felony. It's not like he strolled in with a broken hand from a bar fight.
Harvey apologized, and as far as we know, he's still getting the ball for the pivotal Game 3 start of this NLDS. The other Mets don't have to be making lunch dates with Harvey at Spago this weekend. But letting this slide is a very minor inconvenience compared to what they need Harvey to do Monday back at Citi Field.
"First and foremost, he was here -- he was just late," Curtis Granderson said. "Everybody has been late before. We're human. These things are going to happen from time to time."
They just happen more with Harvey. But that's an issue to be addressed another day, perhaps by Sandy Alderson this offseason when he's figuring out where Harvey fits into the Mets' long-term plans. Until then, Collins stuck Harvey with a fine.
"He was extremely apologetic again this morning," Collins said. "But I told him, it's over. Get ready to pitch. That's all that matters. He and I always have this little game we play. You go pitch good, I'll take care of the rest of it."
And Collins has been there, a sizable chunk of the time, to absorb those Harvey-aimed arrows from us. Before and after every game, with some additional chitchat in between. That's a job in itself -- separate from the X's and O's -- that Collins probably doesn't get enough credit for.
Does he test the front office's boundaries at times? Probably. These days, club officials in every sport tend to be tighter-lipped due to social media, and Collins, who naturally comes off like he's drained eight Red Bulls, has gotten more zany around microphones lately.
Again, we're not complaining. It's a great show, and for all the over-caffeinated "Cripes" he tosses around, Collins does add some perspective to the Twitter-fueled mania we're all players in. And if these past few days at Citi were designed to be a protective cocoon for this young, inexperienced Mets team, we can't wait to see what happens when the Flushing band hits the national stage at Chavez Ravine.
"I'm a little fired up," Collins said.
Heads up, L.A. The Mets are on their way.