New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey sprints out to the mound for the ninth inning of Game 5 of the Major League Baseball World Series against the New York Mets Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey sprints out to the mound for the ninth inning of Game 5 of the Major League Baseball World Series against the New York Mets Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Psyched up, let down: The Harvey Monument

If you watched the last game of the 2015 World Series, you saw a classic and avoidable mistake. We all make them. And we wish we didn’t.

New York Mets starter Matt Harvey was pitching a shutout through the eighth inning. He had thrown a full complement of pitches. He was in the zone and ecstatic — until his manager informed him he that would not pitch the ninth inning. He protested, the manager gave in, the crowd roared and disaster happened.

If you watched Harvey exit the dugout, you could have easily predicted the outcome. Harvey ran to the mound, psyched up and ready to decimate the opposing batters. The fans chanted his name. The atmosphere was electric.

Pitchers walk to the mound. They are focused and intense. They are not distracted. The ability to throw a 90-mile an hour fast ball with accuracy, and mix in two or three other pitches, is what beats batters. Tuning out distractions, lowering the heartbeat, breathing slowly and delivering powerful pitches takes rhythmic coordination.

Harvey threw high, outside and almost wildly. The train wreck that was about to come was predictable and avoidable. Whether or not he deserved to be on the mound, he did deserve masterful coaching.

Harvey’s mistake was his failure to reclaim the Zen-like focus required of him in that moment. He needed the help of his coach to do this; a coach who could take him aside, get into his head, focus his vision inward, slow his breathing and create the calm mindset that allows a superstar to deliver in the intensity of a big moment. Psyched up, with his adrenaline running, Harvey’s pitch control was lost — and so were the Mets’ hopes for a World Series ring.

The ability to “center down” in a crisis, whether it’s exhilarating or life threatening, determines the outcome of many critical decisions in life. It is a wonder that mental control is not taught as a major life lesson for all of us. We can learn it, we can practice it and we can use it to improve.

And when the forces of enthusiasm are greater than our skills, we should be able to rely on our coaches to bring us to that focus. Harvey was let down by his coach; don’t be let down by yours.

It’s incredibly valuable to have a life coach, a confidant, a trusted friend in your life, and to rely on their perspective when yours is about to fail you. But knowing when that moment is at hand, and being able to ask for help, is the hardest part.

Dr. Kevin R. Stone is an orthopedic surgeon at The Stone Clinic and chairman of the Stone Research Foundation in San Francisco. He pioneers advanced orthopedic surgical and rehabilitation techniques to repair, regenerate and replace damaged cartilage and ligaments.Dr. Kevin R. StoneNew York MetsorthopedicsWorld Series

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

The San Francisco Police Department has cancelled discretionary days off and will have extra officers on duty for Inauguration Day, Chief Bill Scott said Tuesday. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SF ‘prepared for anything’ ahead of inauguration, but no protests expected

Authorities boosting police staffing, security at City Hall

Construction in the Better Market Street Project between Fifth and Eighth streets is expected to break ground in mid-2021.<ins></ins>
SFMTA board to vote on Better Market Street changes

Agency seeks to make up for slimmed-down plan with traffic safety improvements

Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Currey (30) tallied 26 points and seven assists at Monday night’s game against the Lakers. (Chris Victorio for the S.F. Examiner).
Warriors overcome 19-point deficit to stun defending-champion Lakers 115-113

Ladies and gentlemen, the Golden State Warriors are officially back. Stephen Curry… Continue reading

U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris speaks during an event to name President-elect Joe Biden’s economic team at the Queen Theater on Dec. 1, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/TNS)
Kamala Harris to resign from Senate

Bridget Bowman CQ-Roll Call Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will resign from the… Continue reading

A view of Science Hall at the City College of San Francisco Ocean campus on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
CCSF begins search for next chancellor amid new challenges

‘It’s arguably the biggest single responsibility the board has,’ trustee says

Most Read