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MLB New York Mets

Matt Harvey Becoming a Distraction for New York Mets

Matt Harvey

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey celebrated the six-month anniversary of his Tommy John surgery by tweeting a picture of himself making a hand gesture on the day of his surgery. And he wasn’t displaying his new curveball grip.

The Mets asked Harvey to delete the tweet, according to the team’s public relations director, Jay Horwitz. Harvey ultimately made the decision to delete his entire Twitter account. Thus ends (for now) a tumultuous stint on the social media site for Harvey, which he used at times to argue with his critics in the media.

Harvey has received criticism from a few media figures for “enjoying” his status as a celebrity in New York a little too much. He’s been seen at New York Rangers hockey games with his supermodel girlfriend, posing semi-nude in ESPN the magazine and interviewing New Yorkers on late night television. However, there’s really nothing wrong with any of those activities. They’re simply the kinds of things that big-time athletes who play in New York do.

On the other hand, tweeting a picture of yourself flipping off someone or something (hopefully not Dr. James Andrews, who performed the surgery) does show a lack of class. Yes, even in this day and age of sports where trash-talking, taunting, cheating and other forms of bad behavior are the accepted norms, it would still be refreshing if our athletes would carry themselves with a certain amount of dignity every now and then.

Harvey is a 25 year-old with fame, fortune and a golden right arm. It’s only human that he’d display the bombast that sometimes accompanies supreme confidence. But he has to understand that sometimes such behavior can result in bad public relations for the team, which ultimately turns into a distraction for his teammates.

Earlier this year, Harvey argued with the Mets’ front office about the location of his rehabilitation. They wanted him in Port St. Lucie, and he wanted to go to New York. They ended up compromising on both: New York when the team is home, Port St. Lucie when the team is away. That could have been a distraction as well, but the situation was defused.

Harvey has to remember to put his team and his teammates ahead of himself. No matter how innocuous something seems at the time, it could easily blow up in a media crucible like New York City. The Mets are already fighting a lingering perception that they are a second-class organization. Incidents like these don’t help.

Paul J. Festa is a baseball writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter at @pauljfesta and add him on Google.