Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer
The possible friendly rivalry between Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard is exciting to think about, so long as it remains friendly.
Harvey was first to arrive. He made 12 starts in 2012, and then took over baseball in 2013 before ending his season with what would eventually be Tommy John surgery. Wheeler debuted last summer, pitching the second half of a double-header with Harvey starting game one. Let’s hope Wheeler has a similar 2013 to Harvey, minus the elbow issue, of course. While we’re at it, it would be awesome if Syndergaard could make his debut during an equally dramatic double-header, with Wheeler pitching earlier in the day.
The comparisons between Wheeler, Harvey and Syndergaard, and all three compared to Generation K, and Doc Gooden and Tom Seaver, etc., is all just beginning.
This isn’t fair. These are three separate guys who are deserving of three separate storylines and three sets of expectations. However, it’s impossible to see them that way, which is going to lead to them being forced to compare themselves to one another, which will give inevitably give birth to some sort of rivalry.
For instance, columnist John Harper (Daily News, Mar. 11) recently talked with Wheeler about following in Harvey’s footsteps, and Wheeler said:
“We’re different. Everybody expects all of us to love everything about being a star. I’m just laid-back. But I love playing baseball and the attention that comes with it — I guess I just don’t show I love the attention. … I’m ready to take the next step. I’m ready to take on (the Harvey role) and everything that comes with it. Does that include dating models?’ Whatever comes, we’ll see. I don’t go out that much. Last year I didn’t even go out one time in New York because I was so concentrated on what I was doing, just being called up at the time. But we’ll see. If a hot model comes along, so be it. Why not, right?’’
I love this quote. Imagine life if these two (hopefully three) are dominating together, each contending for awards and rings, all in the same uniform? I get chills thinking about it. But, what if the pressure and competition consumes them? What if it creates jealousy, or an unhealthy resentment? What if someone isn’t working hard enough, partying too much or doing too much media, garnering attention for the wrong reasons? Then what?
It’s a good problem to have, I suppose. I don’t know any of these three guys well enough to know if this is even a possibility. For all I know, their pin-straight morals and lovely personalities will turn the pitching mound at Citi Field in to a drum circle. I’m willing to bet, instead, that like most young men, ego and pride can get the best of them.