Here are two pitchers, both roughly the same age, both having made exactly 104 starts with the teams they came up with in the Major Leagues five years ago:
PITCHER A: 104 starts, 639 innings, 34-37, 3.43 ERA, 8.6 K/9, 105 ERA+, one All-Star appearance, one World Series (lost)
PITCHER B: 104 starts, 587 1/3 innings, 38-33, 3.82 ERA, 10.5 K/9, 113 ERA+, one All-Star appearance, one World Series (lost)
These two are pretty much the same guy, right? There are variations here or there, but on the whole, through their first 104 Major League starts, they have produced roughly the same results. Thus, you would think that we, as fans and observers, would react to them in roughly the same way. They'd have similar public statures, be talked about in similar terms and have similar Q scores. They'd have made the same impact on the world.
The first player is new Reds pitcher Matt Harvey. The second is the Indians' Danny Salazar. People have been fighting in the Wikipedia page notes of Harvey's page every day for three weeks; no one has touched Salazar's since March.
Harvey's personality has been dissected and analyzed by every amateur general manager and armchair psychologist this side of Poughkeepsie; I bet you couldn't tell me a single biographical detail about Salazar. Every time Harvey so much as coughs there is a related segment on "MLB Tonight." Be honest, you didn't even realize Salazar hasn't pitched yet this year, did you?
The difference between the two men, of course, has nothing do with what they do on the mound as much as the city that inhabits the team for which they've pitched. Salazar spent those 104 starts in Cleveland. Harvey spent them in New York.
And now that the 104 starts of Harvey-New York drama is finally over, with him making his second start with Cincinnati on Wednesday night in San Francisco, it's worth asking: Is Harvey's life better because his career started in New York, or is it worse? Would he have been happier if he had pitched for Cleveland?
First thing out of the way: Harvey obviously had opportunities with the Mets he probably wouldn't have had with the Indians. He likely wouldn't have been New York Bureau Chief of the Players Tribune in Cleveland. He wouldn't have had the commercial opportunities he did in New York, and there likely wouldn't have been thousands of fans wearing Dark Knight masks in Progressive Field. And Jimmy Fallon doesn't tend to ask a lot of Indians players to be on his show.
Will Leitch MLB.com