It’s great to be young and a Met, Ike Davis could tell you after his most successful major league debut Monday night. The 23-year-old first baseman was the toast of Citi Field from the moment he showed up wearing No. 42. If ever anybody stood out in a mononumeric crowd, it was this kid who came up from Buffalo and raised Mets fans’ hopes and won Mets fans’ hearts with an easy swing, a power stroke and two hits quickly stashed in his pocket.
He was too amped to wait for more. Hence, he arrived at the ballpark early Tuesday. First one in the clubhouse, first one dressed. Ah, that rookie spirit combined with tangible talent. What a pleasure to have around. We’re gonna like this Ike Davis. We’re gonna like him for a long time.
Naturally, being the first one to report to the clubhouse means you’re all alone there. So when the phone rings, and you realize it’s only you in there, you answer it. You’re a rookie — you want to do everything.
“Hi,” says the voice on the other end. “Is this the Mets clubhouse?”
“Oh wow! I can’t believe I got through! Can I talk to that awesome Met they just called up? The one who we’ve been dying to see, the one who’s singlehandedly pulling us out of this horrific teamwide slump?”
“Ohmigod, I can’t believe it’s you!”
“It’s me. Who is this?”
“Are you kidding, I’m your biggest fan?”
“I have a biggest fan already?”
“Of course you do. I’d been reading about you at Triple-A, and now you’re off to this great start, and I just know you’re gonna be the one to lead us to the promised land.”
“That’s a lot to ask of one rookie.”
“Don’t be so modest. If anyone is the harbinger of great Mets things to come and is going to be an eternal favorite of Mets fans, it’s you, Alex Ochoa.”
“Alex, stop kidding around.”
“I’m not Alex O…whoever you said.”
“Seriously, who is this, really? Is this Mark Clark pretending to be Alex Ochoa? If it is, stop screwing around, Mark, and put Alex on.”
“I don’t know who that is either. I think you have the wrong number.”
“You said this is the Mets clubhouse.”
“You said you’re that awesome Met they called up who we’ve been dying to see.”
“But then you say you’re not Alex Ochoa. That can’t be! We all worship and adore Alex Ochoa here.”
“Here? Where’s here? Where are you calling from?
“This is a call from 1996. We all love Alex Ochoa here, we’re all convinced he’s going to be a five-tool superstar and that Mets fans will always love him the way we do now. I mean, we called WFAN and everything. We demanded Alex Ochoa come up. He was hitting .339 in Triple-A and he had to be better than what we running out there. So when he came up to stay, we were elated. We gave him standing ovations every time we saw him.”
“Sorry, I never heard of him.”
“Yeah, right. Everybody here knows Alex Ochoa. Alex Ochoa was batting .400 after seven games. Then a few days later he hit for the cycle in Philadelphia. New York magazine ran a feature on him calling him ‘The Cuban Missile’.”
“Sorry, dude, I never heard of Alex Ochoa.”
“That’s a good one, Chris. You’re Chris Jones playing a joke on me, right?”
“Seriously, I have no idea who these people are.”
“Fine. Just tell Alex Ochoa that 1996 called and that we’re all behind him here.”
Weird, Ike Davis thinks. Weird the calls they get in big league clubhouses. Yet just as he finishes the thought, the phone rings again. He looks around, sees no one else has come in, so he figures he’ll take his chances and answer it again.
“Hi, I’d like to speak to the first baseman.”
“You’ve got him.”
“Awesome! You’re doing an awesome job!”
“That’s nice of you to say, but I only just got here.”
“Small sample size or not, I can tell you’re the real thing. You’re just what this team needs.”
“Well, I’m trying. That’s all I can do.”
“‘Trying…’ You’re succeeding is what you’re doing. You come up, and first thing you do — POW!”
“It wasn’t that big a hit.”
“Not a big hit? C’mon, it was huge, Mike!”
“You got my name wrong. It’s Ike.”
“If I’ve got it wrong, so do the announcers and everybody else. They’ve been calling you Mike all week.”
“My apologies, Mr. Jacobs. I thought your first name was Mike.”
“Jacobs? I’m not Jacobs. Jacobs doesn’t work here anymore.”
“Huh? That’s doesn’t make any sense.”
“I don’t know what to tell you.”
“Wow, this is certainly news to everybody here. He’s not on the DL already, is he?”
“DL? No…hey listen, I know I’m just a rookie first baseman, but I thought everybody knew. I heard it on the radio in the cab when I got into town that Jacobs was gone.”
“Yeah, I guess that’s the station.”
“But I was just listening to WFAN the other night after Mike Jacobs was tearing it up in Arizona, and everybody was so excited. Steve Somers was playing this really catchy song, ‘I Like Mike ‘…”
“You mean Ike.”
“No, not ‘I Like Ike’. That’s the bit. The song is called ‘I Like Mike,’ by somebody named Jay Spears. It’s a real song, and Steve was playing it because we’re all so hyped up about Mike Jacobs hitting all these home runs.”
“Home runs? When?”
“Sure, now. When else?”
“Hey buddy, where you calling from?”
“I’m calling from 2005. Everybody here is totally into Mike Jacobs. Four home runs and 9 RBI in his first four games! We’ve got him penciled in at first for the next five years. I can only imagine where he’ll be by 2010.”
“Uh, yeah. You’ve got the wrong number.”
“Hey, if you see Mike, could you tell him we’re going to start a fan club for him? And a Web site?”
“I gotta go. Bye.”
Enough, Ike thought. Enough with these strange phone calls he didn’t understand. He was just happy to be here, in the big leagues, with the Mets. He’d deal with the media and the fans out there, on the field.
But then the clubhouse phone rang again. Ike, still all by his lonesome, felt obligated to pick it up again.
“Uh, hi, I was wondering if anybody there remembered Daniel Murphy.”
“Oh geez, let me guess. You’re calling from 2008, you’re going to point out the hot start Daniel Murphy got off to when he came up, how he was hitting .467 after 30 at-bats, how Mets fans swooned over him as if he was a lock to be a superstar here, how Shea Stadium sold out of MURPHY 28 t-shirts as soon as they went on sale and how this should be a cautionary tale for me as well as Mets fans because I’m a big deal right now, yet you never know what kinds of detours a baseball career will take. Is that it?”
“Oh, sorry. Can I help you?”
“Um, this is Daniel Murphy, down in Florida rehabbing. I was just wondering if anybody remembered me. But yeah, now that you mention it…”
Ike hung up and trotted outside for early BP.