New York columnist clutches his pearls over Matt Harvey giving the finger in a picture

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Yesterday Matt Harvey tweeted a picture of himself, in a hospital bed, giving the finger to the camera just before being wheeled in for Tommy John surgery last year.  After he tweeted it he took it down because someone from the Mets told him to take it down. That’s not too big a deal, of course. I censor myself online sometimes because I have an employer and I represent them as well as myself. So does Harvey. When you do that you honor their reasonable wishes when they are expressed. No harm, no foul. It’s simple drama avoidance, and I’d be shocked if anyone at the Mets gave it a second thought after Harvey took it down.

Of course the picture itself is no big deal. Indeed, the “we wish you wouldn’t do that” from his employer notwithstanding, it was kinda funny. His mom took it, apparently. It’s like any number of family pictures floating around my and my parents’ house. I’m guessing a lot of you have pictures like that too. If you can’t joke around with your parents and/or your adult children like that, God, who wants to know you?

Apparently Anthony Rieber of Newsday does. Indeed, he is shocked and appalled about a grown man joking around with his mom like that. It’s not what Derek Jeter or David Wright would do. Seriously, he actually said that:

Remember that time Derek Jeter posted something offensive on Twitter and then decided to take down his account after the Yankees asked him to delete the post?

No? How about that time David Wright did it?

Still no? . . .The problem is that it seems to keep being Harvey who is involved in these little dustups. Not Jeter, whom Harvey said he wants to emulate. Not Wright, who is as positive a role model as New York sports has ever had.

And after that Rieber goes into serious fainting couch/pearl-clutching territory, suggesting that the picture was R-rated and actually using a shocked exclamation point when he noted that Harvey’s mother took the picture. Like this (!).  When he quotes Harvey, who said that there was nothing wrong with the picture, Rieber says “Sorry, but there was.” With what I presume to be a straight face. He then uses a tattling tone to note that the middle finger pic was still up at Harvey’s Instagram account.

Newsday’s little bio of Rieber says he’s been working there since 1998. How one can cover news in New York City for 16 years and still find a way to be shocked at a grown man giving the middle finger is either a testament to how seldom Rieber leaves his house or how utterly disingenuous his shock and disgust at Harvey is here.

Either way, he should be far more embarrassed by that column than Harvey should be about anything he’s done since making the big leagues.

The Giants are winning but they’re still gonna sell

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The state of baseball in general, the state of the National League in particular and the state of the San Francisco Giants as a competitor are conspiring to create what seems like at least a mildly absurd situation.

The Giants, a veteran-laden team that, as recently as this past offseason but definitely within the past couple of years, were at least talking about being on a win-now footing, just swept a four-game series, have won five straight games and have won 12 of 14 to pull themselves to within two and a half games of a playoff spot.

Yet, that’s all for temporary show, because they’re about to sell off. At least according to Jeff Passan at ESPN. Giants president Farhan Zaidi tried to push back on that in a radio interview yesterday, denying that the club has foreclosed the possibility of a postseason push, but I’m not really buying that and I don’t think most people are.

On one level it makes sense to ignore the recent surge and forge on with a rebuild. Sure, the Giants are winning but they’re not exactly good. They’re two and a half out of the Wild Card, but there are many teams ahead of them. There’s a lot of reason to think that they’re playing in good fortune right now and that that, rather than finding some extra gear of sustainable better play, is what’s to credit. Hot streaks can happen at any time but the trade deadline only comes once a year. When you have the best starter available in Madison Bumgarner and the best reliever available in Will Smith, you gotta make those deals. That’s what I’d probably do if I ran the Giants and I think that that’s, wisely, what Zaidi will do.

Still, it’s an odd look, less for the Giants specifically than for baseball as a whole. We may in an era of cheap front offices who don’t like to contend if it means spending money, but it’s unfair to paint the Giants with that brush. They’ve spent money and acquired talent and have done whatever they can to extend their 2010-2014 mini-dynasty a few more years and in doing so they’ve made a lot of fans happy. That team has pretty much reached the end and, even in an earlier, more competitive era, they’d not be properly criticized for starting in on a rebuild. Heck, they’d be excused if they had done it a year or two earlier, frankly.

But, because so many teams have punted on improving themselves, these aging Giants are at least superficially competitive. As such, when they do sell off in the coming days, it’ll look to some like they’re waving a white flag or something when they’re not really doing that. I mean, the Rockies and the Pirates, among other teams, should be much better than they are but didn’t seem all that interested in improving, thereby helping the Giants look better, right? It’s less a knock on the Giants for rebuilding when they’re within striking distance of the playoffs than it is on the rest of the league for allowing a team like the Giants to be within striking distance of a playoff spot.

But that’s where we are right now. An insanely competitive Wild Card race from teams that, on the whole, are rather unconcerned with being competitive. What a time to be a baseball fan.