Friday, April 19, 2013

Video Game Matchup

Part of the reason I like my 15-game plan with the Mets is that, for the past couple of years, it has given me the freedom to pick my own games. Usually, I opt for the classic Weekday Night game, because for me, there's nothing more pure than a sweltering Tuesday Night game in June, July or August, no matter what the opponent or the state of the team. Every once in a while, I find that I've lucked into some really good pitching matchup (like, say, Johan Santana vs. Chris Carpenter), but often, I also end up with matchups like John Maine vs. Alex Sanabia. I've never been much for the weekend games; in addition to them being much more crowded, they are also more expensive.

For the 2013 season, I noticed that the Mets had more "Value" dates on Friday nights, so for whatever reason, I picked more Friday night games than I usually go to. One of them, which I probably picked at the last second just to fill out my 15 games, happened to be tonight's game against the Washington Nationals. There was no particular logic or reasoning behind that choice, I just saw it, saw it was cheap and figured I'd go.

Only last week did I realize I'd have the hottest ticket in town, at least in this early part of the season, when the pitching matchup of Matt Harvey vs. Stephen Strasburg was announced.

Harvey's allure to the Mets fans probably mirrors that of Strasburg, although they may have taken different paths to this point. Strasburg was a can't miss phenom from the day he arrived in 2010, and that promise hasn't dimmed even after losing a year to Tommy John surgery and an innings limit in 2012. This year, with multiple seasons of experience under his belt, he's expected to lead this loaded Nationals team to October and beyond.

Harvey's not quite at that level yet, but I don't think anybody in their wildest dreams could have thought he'd be off to this good a start this season. But his unflappable demeanor and desire to succeed has made it clear that this isn't simply a hot start—this is the real deal. The comparisons to other pitchers already among the game's elite—Strasburg among them—have been flying around all season, and to this point they're not so far-fetched.

But the real allure behind this Harvey vs. Strasburg matchup is that both of them are 24 and just getting their careers going. This stands a very good chance of developing into one of those Marquee Matchups that everyone takes note of, sort of like when you would have a Pedro Martinez vs. Randy Johnson or a Chris Carpenter vs. Roy Halladay matchup. The Mets and Nationals meet constantly throughout the season, and this could develop into a big-time match for the next 10-15 years. It seems like it's not just hype. But I'll be there tonight to see if the event lives up to the billing.

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