I believe that sportswriters in this 24/7 news cycle tend to run out of things to write about. There is only so much to write about or only so many original takes that can be made on a certain sports-related topic. So when some news (or non-news) event breaks these sportswriters are desperate to immediately write about it. It's the same principle that causes ESPN/CNN/Fox News to beat the same topics into the ground. They have 24 hours of air time to fill and so the same topic of discussion or debate will end up getting beaten into the ground by 3-4 different anchors or analysts. It's one of the drawbacks of the 24 hour news cycle. This is how Bob Klapisch gets an entire column out of Matt Harvey posing nude for ESPN Magazine. This is also how a sportswriter like Anthony Rieber manages to get an entire column out of Matt Harvey taking a picture with his middle finger extended. It's a great chance to get a "Matt Harvey has to grow up" column out of the way, and frankly, Rieber has to write something for today and there's nothing else interesting to write about.
This middle-finger salute to Tommy John surgery isn't something a a great baseball player should be doing. It's a clear sign Harvey should grow up that he takes a picture of him making an obscene gesture while in the hospital, the same obscene gesture I'm guessing Anthony Rieber has made himself at some point in his life. But hey, that doesn't matter. What does matter is it's a great day for a narrative and someone has to write the "Harvey giving the middle finger means something more than just him giving the middle finger" column, right? It may as well be him.
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?
Ah yes, Rieber reveals his intentions by immediately comparing Harvey to Derek Jeter. All bets are off, he wins. Derek Jeter is a saint, Matt Harvey is not.
Remember that time Twitter was around when Derek Jeter was 25 years old and he had Tommy John surgery? Oh, you don't?
No? How about that time David Wright did it?
MATT HARVEY WILL NEVER BE ONE OF THE NEW YORK BASEBALL SAINTS! EVER!
Remember that time Matt Harvey went out and got drunk on the town and pictures were all over the Internet of him doing this when he was around 25 years old? Wait no, that was David Wright who did that.
Of course it's not illegal to get drunk in public, while obscene gestures are a violation of the Rieber Act of 2014 which specifically punishes those professional athletes in the New York area for making obscene gestures, rude comments or attempting to not be Derek Jeter with an article stating this athlete "needs to grow up." Later, when that athlete redeems himself a follow-up article can be written following this "grow up" narrative stating the athlete has indeed grown up.
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.
It's not that Matt Harvey is giving the middle finger to the camera, it's that his giving the middle finger adds to the list of innocuous things he's done which all add up to create a narrative that Harvey should grow up. Put separately, these incidents don't mean much, but when slapped together into a trend it looks like Matt Harvey has some real growing up to do. Take all the stupid things you did over a 2 year span in your early 20's and then combine them together...I bet it wouldn't make you look so good.
The problem is that it seems to keep being Harvey who is involved in these little dustups.
I would love a reminder in this column about the dustups that Harvey has gotten involved in, but I'm sure they are so obvious and so egregious that Rieber need not list them right now. Rieber get to these dustups that are really not important at all, but important enough to merit an attitude change in Harvey, a little later. But for right now, Rieber is going to stick to making a big deal out of nothing concerning this picture of Harvey giving the camera a middle finger.
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.
Pictures being taken of Wright drunk and pictures of Harvey giving the middle finger to a camera are pretty much the same thing. Both pictures were taken when both players were similar ages. There's no point in acting like Wright is perfect and Harvey is a huge immature asshole.
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
It's a verified Twitter account! Not a fake Twitter account! No one snuck into Matt Harvey's room and forced him to make an obscene gesture at gun point. He made this gesture all on his own with total disregard for the fact giving the middle finger is never okay. Harvey may as well have been beating one of the children in the cancer ward with a baseball bat, because that's what he was doing to his public image by daring to show himself making an obscene gesture. I bet Matt Harvey curses too. Derek Jeter and David Wright would never curse. In fact, Anthony Rieber knew when the Mets drafted Harvey he would never be another Derek Jeter or David Wright because Harvey's first name doesn't begin with a "D" and have five letters in it with each consonant followed by a vowel.
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''
Harvey was violating the Rieber Act of 2014 while smiling. He's flaunting his disobedience for everyone to see. While one could see Harvey giving the middle finger as a sign that he is saying, "Screw Tommy John surgery, I'm coming back healthy and ready to make a difference for the Mets team," Anthony Rieber is shocked and horrified that a professional athlete would extend his middle finger in the air for a camera to catch a picture of. Rieber also probably is afraid that Matt Harvey curses at times, as well as engages in premarital sex. Oh my heavens, what a display of heathenism.
What will "the kids" think as they see this picture of Harvey giving the middle finger to Tommy John surgery? Doesn't Harvey have the decency to think about the children as these same children scroll through the Internet unattended by their parents?
The Mets were not pleased. Public-relations executive Jay Horwitz -- an
avid, if bizarre, user of Twitter himself -- asked Harvey to delete the
Anthony Rieber bets Matt Harvey gave Jay Horwitz the middle finger when this request was made.
Horwitz said. "I never asked him to delete his account.''
But that's what Harvey did.
What was Harvey covering up? Were there pictures of him drinking beer or sitting too close to the television on his Twitter account and these pictures just had not been found yet? Please tell me there wasn't a picture of Harvey blatantly ignoring the 30-minute rule and swimming immediately after he had eaten lunch and that Harvey wasn't bragging about it on his Twitter account. My heart can't stand all of this anarchy.
And a debate on whether it was a big deal or not broke out.
Is it a big deal? Of course not.
Of course it's not a big deal! Anthony Rieber is just building an entire column around it and using this middle finger picture as part of the narrative that Matt Harvey needs to grow up. It's totally not a big deal though, except for the part where Anthony Rieber makes it a big deal.
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
But if you combine them all together into a string of incidents caused by Harvey's lack of maturity then a brilliant narrative has been drawn and now multiple articles can be written about how Harvey needs to grow up. Again, take some incidents from 2 years of your life when you were 25 years old and see if those incidents couldn't be strung along to show that you need to do some growing up. I bet they could be.
It wasn't a big deal when he was "embarrassed'' after saying he wants to be like Jeter when it came to dating.
No, it's not a big deal. New York is the media capital of the world and young guys are going to say stupid things. Saying he wants to be like Jeter when it comes to dating isn't a bad thing. For all of Rieber's teeth-gnashing that Harvey IS DEFINITELY NOT Derek Jeter, the fact Harvey wants to emulate Jeter would seem to be a good thing, no? Apparently not. Apparently trying to be like Derek Jeter when it comes to dating is a bad thing, but Rieber thinks Harvey should be more like Derek Jeter and not try to be like Derek Jeter.
That he apologized after relentlessly plugging a wireless product
instead of answering questions about his elbow on a national radio show.
And of course not answering questions about his elbow on a national radio show is a moral failing which shows a lack of maturity. Naturally.
That he sparred with the Mets about where he was going to do his rehab.
Because the fact the Mets and Harvey have a differing view on where Harvey should do his rehab, this isn't simply a disagreement but a failing caused by a lack of maturity on Harvey's part. It's more mature just to do whatever the Mets tell him to do.
That he seems to seek out celebrity with the same abandon he faced down hitters before his injury.
And we all know New York can't stand athletes like Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, and Joe Namath who chase celebrity. That's why none of those athletes who played in New York are considered legends by the media, they never quite grew up.
Taken all together, though? It's just too much.
But they are all separate incidents. In fact, they are all separate incidents that mean nothing when taken together as a whole, other than to serve as another good example of how the New York media likes to blow up small issues into overwhelming problems out of boredom. These four innocuous incidents mean nothing unless carefully woven together into a narrative that Harvey needs to grow up.
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
Harvey is violating the moral fabric of society by raising his middle finger at a camera and all he can do is laugh about it.
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 (!).
Obviously Matt Harvey's mom needs to grow up as well. It's no shock that Harvey has grown up to be such a careless, immature asshole if his mother is going to reinforce his behavior by taking a picture of him while he raises his middle finger at the camera. Oh lord, what have Anthony Rieber's eyes seen? If only there was a way to avoid following Matt Harvey on Twitter to avoid seeing his moral fiber decay before our very eyes.
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.
Remember: You just wrote that this wasn't a big deal, yet you now make a big deal out of this picture.
"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.''
Yeah but Matt, don't you remember the time you said you wanted to be like Derek Jeter when it comes to dating? Derek Jeter wouldn't want to be like Derek Jeter when it comes to his dating life. Try to mimic Derek Jeter more often and be less like Derek Jeter when it comes to dating and more like Derek Jeter as it pertains to how he lives his life.
Harvey also said, "It's my personal account . . . I didn't think there was anything officially wrong with it.''
Sorry, but there was.
Anthony Rieber from earlier in this column:
Is it a big deal? Of course not.
So there was something wrong with it, but it's not a big deal. It's not a big deal, but it is a big deal? He can't have it both ways. Anthony Rieber can try to have it both ways, but it only reinforces what a big deal he is making out of a simple gesture made in a picture.
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,
I can understand that what Harvey says/does on Twitter reflects on the Mets. I don't think Harvey giving the middle finger to a camera reflects badly on the Mets. If someone is on Twitter and gets offended by seeing a middle finger then that person is the one who needs to grow up and probably not be on Twitter. There's much worse shit on Twitter than an athlete giving the middle finger directed towards a major surgery he is about to undergo.
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
And so was the middle-finger photo, by the way.
Oh no! Matt Harvey didn't remove this "not a big deal" picture from Instagram? There is something officially wrong with this picture. Pictures like the one of Harvey giving the camera the middle finger will forever ruin the reputation of MLB players as upstanding citizens who don't drink, don't smoke, don't curse, and certainly don't give the middle finger to a camera? What would Matt Harvey's mother say?...after she took the picture of course.
Don't you like how this picture that wasn't "a big deal" and the other dustups that Harvey has had, all of which aren't "a big deal" either, become "a big deal" when it's time to start a narrative that Matt Harvey needs to grow up. Harvey better watch out or else he will become the East Coast Yasiel Puig. Just wait until ESPN tries to figure out how Harvey was brought into the country. I'm sure the method used to sneak Harvey out of his mom's private parts at birth will horrify Bill Plaschke.
My favorite part about this article was how it delved into a discussion about 1st Amendment rights beginning with this comment: