Matt Harvey could begin new era for Mets on Friday night

Mike Stobe

Just as Dwight Gooden's Friday night starts at Shea Stadium became events in the 1980s, Matt Harvey is poised to electrify New York as he takes on Stephen Strasburg on Friday, April 19 at Citi Field.

In the mid- and late-1980s, when the Mets owned New York and Doc Gooden was their biggest star, Friday night was their night.

"It was incredible," Gooden told Greenwich Time last year. "Nothing was better than a Friday night at Shea Stadium."

Gooden threw eight innings of three-hit ball and struck out 14 Dodgers in his first Friday night start at Shea. Only 27,340 were on hand and there was no K corner, because that's how it works in the beginning. Just three months later, more than 46,000 came out on a Friday night to see the newly anointed Dr. K shut out the Cubs and strike out 11 on his way to winning Rookie of the Year.

The phenomenon was underway and with it the best era of Mets baseball.

This Friday night, when Matt Harvey opposes Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals, Citi Field may get a taste of that electricity. Harvey's first thirteen starts have been as promising as any Mets pitching product since Gooden. While the Mets have had plenty of great players and moments since those Friday nights a generation ago, there is something special about a homegrown power ace. And the Mets finally have one to match up against both the likes of Strasburg, who may be the most talented pitcher on the planet, and the legacy of Gooden.

The Mets may not contend all the way through September. And they may not sell the place out on Friday night. That's how it works in the beginning.

The beginning is a time to hope, think big, and get ahead of yourself. Mets fans on hand to watch Harvey, and what could be the start of a new era of excitement in Queens, should feel welcome to do all three on Friday night.

Because this is only the beginning.

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