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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

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The Inevitable End of Ike Davis

He was a Met — maybe he didn’t perform to the standards we set for him or to our satisfaction of what we decided he could be, but he was one of ours. He went out there and he did his best. Then one day he was gone and we could only imagine the damage he’d do for his new team and the regret he’d cause his old team.

But enough about Aaron Harang.

Harang (3-1, 0.70) threw seven no-hit innings Friday night before Fredi Gonzalez decided a complete game no-hitter against these Mets in their home ballpark probably wasn’t going to be worth the trouble of running up the pitch count of the best starter in the National League. Luis Avilan gave up a hit in the eighth but no runs. Jordan Walden gave up nothing, which is what the Mets scored in their 6-0 loss that was — thanks to Jonathon Niese’s six solid frames — closer than the score indicates for a while, though what that counts for, I’m not sure.

You’re excused for not remembering Aaron Harang (7 IP 0 H 6 BB 0 R) was a Met. He pitched in that segment of 2013 when you probably weren’t watching: four starts at its ass end, none of them totally embarrassing, each of them reasonably effective. To use the blanket description that fits every Met September over the past half-decade, you didn’t miss much. For the also-ran Mets late last year, he was a rotation temp.

For the first-place Braves early this year, he’s basically the ace. But like I said, enough about Aaron Harang, who was never in anybody’s plans for 2014, not even the Braves’. Friday night’s ex-Met in the spotlight was supposed to be Ike Davis.

Davis was supposed to be an ex-Met long before Friday, but between calculating imposing offensive metrics and diligently upgrading the shortstop situation from Ruben Tejada and Omar Quintanilla to Ruben Tejada and Omar Quintaniila, the Met front office was too busy to sort through its glut of first basemen and thus carried into the season two lefthanded starters at the position. Given that the Ike half of the glut launched a game-winning grand slam the day after the Lucas Duda half blasted a pair of homers himself, it didn’t really hurt anybody to have them both around for a couple of weeks, but it couldn’t go on like that forever.

It didn’t, which is why Ike Davis was finally sent packing, to Pittsburgh, in exchange for a Triple-A righty reliever of little advance renown named Zack Thornton and that player whose name has yet to arrive, but is said to be a more exciting get than Zack Thornton.

Ike Davis, Pittsburgh Pirate, will become Willie Stargell in about ten minutes, you’ve likely determined. Maybe. Probably not. He’s still Ike Davis who’s been searching for his swing, his comfort zone, his batting eye, his eye of the tiger and now his eyepatch (aarrgghh!!). In the midst of his obligatory remarks about being alternately saddened and gladdened by the turn of transactional events, I heard Ike say he’s been feeling “a lot better in the box”. You know which hitters are feeling a lot better in the box? Hitters like Ike who are hitting .208. Hitters who are hitting a lot better in the box are able to have their hitting speak for itself. And they’re not traded three weeks into the season.

Continuing exposure to his groping for answers over the past two seasons convinced me it was never going to come together again for Ike Davis as a New York Met. I came to that conclusion last summer, so I can’t say going Ikeless will be a hardship for the .500 Mets (yes, the team that was one-hit Friday night hasn’t lost any more than it’s won; hard to believe, I know). The Davis powerburst of the second half of 2012 seemed like an illusion when it was in progress and there was nothing of substance to be mined from 2013. But in the scheme of what might have been or could have been or should have been, the trade is an emotional blow.

Ike was the homegrown slugging first baseman who did everything right from the moment he was given the chance, and from that small sample size, we dreamed. We dreamed this guy was the next step — or maybe the first step — in the necessary rebuilding of our team. It was gonna be, left to right around the horn, Wright, Reyes, Tejada, Davis. He was free and easy at the plate and in his manner. He fell over railings and came up with catches. He was in the middle of every Citi Field celebration back when the Mets used to win home games by the bushel. He brushed up against cocky, especially for a rookie, but that was all right, I thought. It was refreshing. The players who have “swagger” don’t have to talk about it. Ike, I was sure, had it.

Whatever he has left after parts of five seasons as a Met, it wasn’t enough anymore. He may have started up, but unlike the rest of the refrain from his stubbornly unchanging walkup music, he sure as hell stopped. Some of it was no doubt physical. Some of it was likely mental. All of it was a shame given the menschy aura he exuded whether he was hitting them far or not at all. That’s too bad in terms of the dreams we dreamed, but it’s the way it goes in reality.

Now first base is Duda territory, which may mean a player with a genuine talent for generating line drives will finally settle in and produce consistently. Or it may mean the man with the Mona Lucas smile will struggle because, let’s face it, Duda hasn’t proven all that much across parts of his five seasons as a Met. I guess the only thing Lucas Duda proved to those who decide such matters was he was a less worse bet than Ike Davis.

13 comments to The Inevitable End of Ike Davis

  • Scott M.

    Then Ron, Keith & Gary eulogized Ike and his clubhouse presence like he was Mark Messier or something. Jeez, Greg’s analysis is something they should take a look at and then take another shot at analyzing Ike’s effect on the clubhouse tonight. He was here, we rooted for him, now he’s gone.

    Besides, you know the ‘player to be named later’ is going to have immense clubhouse presence – or not…

  • rich porricelli

    So long Mr. Davis..Now hopefully we can win some home games…

  • dmg

    ike’s days were numbered after granderson proved he could handle the low average, high strikeout role in the lineup.

    • Steve D

      I think you nailed it…Curtis seems perfect for the role and also the dual role as the latest player to come to the Mets and promptly become a bum.

  • Dave

    If ever a game demonstrated the difference between two teams, there it was. The Braves pick a guy up off the scrapheap, a guy who’s the very definition of “journeyman” and if there was such a thing as an April Cy Young Award, he’d be a frontrunner. When the Mets part ways with overpriced underachievers, I picture them on the Braves roster hitting .350 or with an ERA under 2. On the other hand, we have Curtis Granderson, showing every sign of following in the grand tradition of George Foster, Carlos Baerga, Roberto Alomar and Jason Bay as players who donned a Mets uniform and then proceeded to suck from that point forward, forever and ever.

    Ike, good luck, I hope we regret giving up on you, but we really won’t, because you gave us no reason not to. Your impoved ability to draw walks was about as helpful as your ability to shoot free throws. Meanwhile, you go down in Mets history as yet another who tried but couldn’t.

  • sturock

    Ike does seem like a cool guy but there’s just something wrong (I think) with his hitting mechanics. Pitchers can exploit that hitch and all the moving parts in his swing and he just doesn’t catch up to off-speed stuff or breaking balls the way an elite hitter should. For his sake, I hope someone in Pittsburgh can convince him to change his approach.

  • Steve D

    I was an early and vicious Ike basher…when I first called for his trade a few seasons ago, I was mocked here and other circles. They would have gotten more for him, but at least it’s done. Based on him currently having the worst swing I have ever seen on a Met position player, having slow body movement and the eye-winking, I doubt he can make us ever regret trading him. BUT, you never know with the Mets. If this guy turns it around it could be the following:

    1) Change in scenery helped him
    3) Couldn’t play in NY
    3) Players rarely improve (or even stay at the same level) once they reach the NY Mets. The only recent player who did was RA Dickey. I guess Wright has been consistent. Pedro Martinez and Johan at least were good a year or two before injuries and we can exclude Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez, HoJo and Piazza. This has been our hallmark since the early 70s…from Fregosi to Foster to Randy Jones to Ellis Valentine to Saberhagen to Jefferies to Bonilla to Vince Coleman to Mo Vaughn to Roberto Alomar to Jason Bay. Let’s see if, at least with Ike, it works in reverse after leaving the Mets, although we may already know the answer.

  • Meticated

    wow, just watched twenty minutes of gifs showing Davis’ swing…holy toledo!…this guy is everywhere and nowhere at once…balance…quiet set…weight shift…rotation…movement thru center of gravity…hip pivot…tracking thru contact…follow through…my three year old daughter looks like Ted Williams comparatively…at least she uses her naturalness to swing gracefully…thank the Lord for pitcher’s mistakes…case of ball meets bat…ball travels far..apparently, even a blind squirrel-ly hitter finds a meatball 32 times in 550 plus At bats

  • metsfaninparadise

    Given his 2010 season, his hot start in 2011 and his finish in 2012, it was the first half of 2012 that seemed like the illusion to me. Between his defense, his affability, and his being one of only four homegrown players to have a 30 HR season for the Mets, there were plenty of reasons to give him more chances, not the least of which was the lack of a viable option (no, I don’t believe Duda is the answer-he’s accomplished less, even, than Ike so far). But in the end he didn’t give us enough of the one thing we were looking for from him-offense.

  • Lenny65

    While it’s a bit of a bummer, it’s likewise a bummer to be carrying a guy who isn’t even batting his weight in the hope that he’ll eventually “put it together” and/or “find himself”. If Ike was even a .250/20HR guy he would have had 1B locked down from day one.

  • Michael G.

    Ike’s sad story is one of the more disappointing ones of recent years. I truly hope he turns it around in Pittsburgh. I think his problem is more mental than physical. Hitting in the major leagues has a huge mental component — really an indefinable mixture of confidence and supreme focus; he somehow lost one or both. I hope both he and Duda succeed long-term.

  • rich porricelli

    ..”whats the best way to play 1st base?..Swing that bat!!!” Richie Allen..

  • 9th string

    Boy, I look at this lineup and see a right fielder batting under .200, a catcher batting under .200, a shortstop batting under .200, and a first baseman who if everything breaks right might aspire to be a Dave Kingman. And Ike was the biggest problem to address?

    Exactly what has Lucas Duda ever done to win a starting job on this team? At least Ike has shown ability in the past. Duda has never done anything.

    I’ve given Sandy the benefit of the doubt to this point, but honestly I don’t think he knows how to build a successful franchise. 90 wins? If they reach 80 ill be surprised.