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The Sure Thing (One of Them)

Welcome to A Met for All Seasons, a series [1] in which we consider a given Met who played in a given season and…well, we’ll see.

I got the horse right here
The name is Paul Revere
And here’s a guy that says
If the weather’s clear
Can do
Can do
This guy says the horse can do

—“Fugue for Tinhorns [2],” Guys and Dolls

Psst…over here. Yeah, you. You with the Mets cap on your head and the fistful of hope practically jumpin’ outta your heart. I know your type. You’re a good fan lookin’ for a reason to get excited about the Mets in 2010, aren’t ya, Mac? Ya wanna feel the way ya felt before they opened that Citi contraption, before they tore down your beloved Shea, before those collapses ruined your last seasons there. You want a little taste of what it was like when your guys Reyes and Wright were coming up. I saw your eyes light up when I said that. Homegrown stars. That’s the stuff, ain’t it?

I got a tip for ya, then. Some real ground-floor intel. I’m not givin’ it to everybody, but you, my friend, you should have this, and here it is:

Put your hope and your heart — all of it — on Ike Davis to go all the way. I’m tellin’ ya, pal, he can’t miss.

Ya look skeptical, but buddy, I got the straight dope here. This Ike Davis [3] is a born winner. Bats left, throws left, does everything right. Ya don’t believe me? Check out the background. The Mets took him in the first round out of Arizona State — same school as Reggie Jackson — in 2008 with the pick they got when the Braves signed T#m Gl@v!ne back where he belonged. That guy, right? The Mets sent him to Brooklyn, where he began to feel his oats, and then as he got higher up the chain, in St. Lucie and Binghamton, the kid began to really pop. Twenty homers in all in 2009. Did ya see anybody at Citi Field hit twenty homers in 2009? Besides Chase Utley?

Mac, ya like batting average? Then get a gander at this number: .341. That’s what Ike hit in the Arizona Fall League last year. Led the entire circuit, mi amigo. Played a sweet first base, too. If that don’t sound like enough, get a load of his bloodlines. Ike Davis is the son of Ron Davis. That’s right, the Ron Davis who pitched for the Yankees and Twins. Time flies, huh?

[4]

Could it possibly matter that Ike Davis was a Jewish major leaguer? Couldn’t hurt.

Say, pal, you wouldn’t happen to be of the Semitic persuasion, would ya? No offense, none! The reason I’m asking is if you are…you are? Well, you’ll love this. Ike Davis is Jewish! Technically, half-Jewish, on his mother’s side. The one that counts off the field, right, my man? Or should I say right to left? Listen, I know you only care about hitting and fielding, but it’s a nice little bonus, don’t ya think? Your face is lighting up. I’ll bet you were pretty excited when the Mets traded for Shawn Green. No trade necessary for Ike.

Now you might be wondering why the Mets haven’t announced Ike Davis will be starting at first base as soon as the 2010 season commences. After all, both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus have him in their Top 100 prospects, and Amazin’ Avenue — you ever read them? — says he’s already the Mets’ No. 6 prospect, just five spots behind Fernando Martinez, and I know you know about him. Lemme tell ya why you’re not gonna see him from jump:

Because that Omar Minaya is a smart cookie, that’s why. Omar knows if he starts the season with Ike Davis on the roster, I mean on Opening Day, Ike becomes a free agent that much sooner. These GMs today, they take all that stuff into account. It ain’t like when you and I were comin’ up and they just put the best players on the team and let the chips fall where they may. Right, like Kelvin Chapman. So maybe you’ll be hearing that Ike Davis is going to Triple-A, to Buffalo, that they’re bringin’ back Mike Jacobs for some reason, but have a little patience. Ike’ll be on the Mets before long, as soon as Omar counts off the days that’ll keep him on the team a whole year longer down the road — and believe you me, my friend, you’re gonna want a whole other year of Ike Davis.

I’m tellin’ ya, brother, you want in on Ike Davis. Talk about a sound investment. Gonna be the best all-around first baseman our Mets have had since John Olerud. Wait, did I say Olerud? I meant Hernandez. Yep, Keith Hernandez — Mr. Seinfeld himself. I bet ya loved Keith Hernandez. I bet in your heart of hearts you don’t think the Mets have ever truly replaced Keith Hernandez.

Well, this Ike Davis is the sure thing, Mac. The bat. The glove. The personality. Wait ’til you listen to the kid speak. He’s a natural! And you don’t even have to hope the Mets’ll trade Neil Allen and Rick Ownbey for him. He’s on his way — it’s in the bag. Whaddaya say, how about putting down your heart and your hope on some of this Ike Davis action I’m lettin’ you in on.

Oh, you won’t be sorry you did. I’m promising ya, pal, you’re gonna flip for Ike Davis.

***
Psst…over here. Yeah, you. Don’t ya remember me? From last spring. I’m the guy who turned you to on to…that’s right. I’m the Ike Davis guy.

[5]

An Ike Davis guy.

How did that work out for ya, pal? Pretty nice, huh, just like what it says on that shirt you’re wearin’. “WE LIKE IKE.” Bet ya couldn’t wait to run into the team store and pick up that beauty. Ya got exquisite taste there, chief. And you’re smart, because ya listened to me. I told ya all about Ike Davis before he even came up and you were there the night he debuted. April 19, 2010, Jackie Robinson Night at Citi Field. The Mets were off to a murderous start. Four and eight and the word was out about the first baseman at Buffalo. Even the nimrods calling the FAN were demanding Ike. Mike Francesa was tryin’ to get out in front of the bandwagon, and you know if that jamoche was on the case, it was only a matter of time.

But you were on top of all those jerks because you went in hope and heart on Ike Davis before everybody else was done asking what the deal was with Mike Jacobs being back. You listened to the information. You got it right from the source, right here. Ike wore No. 42 like everybody else when he made his first appearance, but you, pal, you could pick him out of a crowd. Something different, and not just because he was Jewish on his mother’s side. Whoa, no offense.

Ike had that certain something you loved. Whether in 42 or 29, he just looked like he belonged, like the majors were waitin’ for him, not the other way around. You loved the hitting. You loved the fielding. You really loved the three times he went rear end over tea kettle to grab them foul balls. Hey, I meant it when I said you’d “flip”. OK, he was the one who flipped. Ya got me with the grammar.

And the team, while it didn’t exactly light the world on fire, they seemed like Ike’s team whenever they did, right? Did ya see how his teammates greeted him at home plate that night in June when he beat the Padres? That was no ordinary walkoff reception. Rookie or not, he didn’t mind gettin’ in an umpire’s face, wasn’t afraid to pat a teammate on the butt, grew a little facial hair, started a charity in memory of his friend [6]. Little things, but ya notice ’em. He didn’t seem afraid of anything. Sure, there were a few more strikeouts than you’d care for, and the average wasn’t exactly out of the Arizona Fall League, but c’mon, he has to save something to get better at. What is it they say about really good TV shows these days? “No spoilers,” that’s it. We’re gonna wanna see how he improves every year. You wouldn’t want me to give away the plot to Breaking Bad, would ya?

Listen, as long as we’re talkin’ chemistry, ya must’ve loved how Ike held down that infield. Around the horn: Wright, Reyes, the pup Ruben Tejada and Ike Davis. All homegrown, all young. Even David and Jose, who it seems like have been around forever, are under thirty. That’s a dream come true for a Mets fan like you, I’ll bet. No coming and going, only orange and blue, through and through. I don’t know why it matters, either, but you’re right. It’s just better that way. And last year Davis, Tejada, Reyes and Wright started together 39 times, more than any totally homegrown Met infield ever did [7], even the ones with Eddie Kranepool and Buddy Harrelson.

Amazin’, as fellas like you and me like to say, right? And think about this, my friend. Reyes can be a free agent after the upcoming season. Loyalty is as loyalty does, hmmm? For all we know, the Mets will trade him before he walks. I know, I know, it’s unthinkable that he leaves the Mets, but with this Madoff business, you can’t necessarily trust these owners to keep their best players. And if Reyes can leave, who’s to say Wright won’t? What, you think just because he’s a good Tidewater boy that he won’t shop his services around? Not for nothin’, but Chipper Jones isn’t gonna play third base in Atlanta forever, and Georgia is in the south just like Virginia. I’m just sayin’. I’m not tryin’ to upset ya here — it’s just us two Mets fans talking — but who’s gonna be the next captain if David bolts? Can’t you see Ike taking charge? Admit it, you’ve already thought about that and he doesn’t even have a full year of service time.

[8]

You wouldn’t have guessed that by the middle of 2011, you’d be more likely to see an Ike Davis bobblehead at Citi Field than see Ike Davis.

In the end, the Mets won only 79 games in 2010, yet Ike hit nearly 20 homers and drove in more than 70 runs. These were practically Strawberry numbers! And ya can’t forget those catches over the railings. That’s a trademark move. The boys in Brooklyn made a bobblehead out of one of ’em. I hear the Mets are making a giveaway for the upcoming year, though it probably won’t be as cheeky. It never is with them. Anyway, our man had a heckuva introductory campaign, wouldn’t you say? Finished seventh in the Rookie of the Year vote. Sure, the Giants had Buster Posey and went to the World Series, and the Braves had Jason Heyward and went back to the playoffs, but we had Ike Davis, and what I’m sayin’ pal is Ike’s not gonna be a free agent for that whole extra year, not ’til after 2016. That’s ages from now.

By then, you get the feeling Ike’s gonna be as big a star as Posey or Heyward. Listen, I got a tip that Albert Pujols is gonna be pullin’ outta St. Louis after this year, maybe chase some of that designated hitter money in the junior circuit. Then who’s the perennial All-Star first baseman in the National League? Freddie Freeman? Joey Votto? Nice players, sure, but c’mon, we have Ike Davis. What’s it say there on that garment of yours? Yeah, we do like Ike.

So whaddaya say, pal? Ya listened to me last year and it paid off handsomely. How about you go all in this time? All hope. All heart. All head, even. Ya can’t argue with the results and the potential. Take a look, I got an advance glance at this 50th-anniversary book by Matt Silverman [9] — good writer — and the last player picture in here is of none other than Ike Davis. Y’know why? Because they always end with the future in these books. Nobody’s more the future for this team after 2010 than Isaac Benjamin Davis, if I may use his full and proper name. Seriously, start him up, he’ll never stop.

[10]

Have a pie, the future is here!

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a Mets fan of your ilk. Homegrown slugger, charismatic, a landsman…you know what I’m talkin’ about.

All right, all in. Pal, ya won’t be sorry.

***
Excuse me? No, I don’t know you. Ike who? Listen, Mac, move along, I’m tryin’ to conduct honest business here. I don’t know what you’re talkin’ about.

All right, fine, ya got me. Yes, I’m the guy who turned you on to Ike Davis all those years ago. So it didn’t work out. So the homegrown infield of your dreams never started together again after 2010. So he collided with Wright on the mound at Coors Field and missed most of 2011, which I didn’t think looked that bad, but it was apparently a turning point for the worse [11]. So he contracted the valley fever in 2012, which I’d never heard of before Ike got it, but I know it was probably worse than anybody let on and he never really fully recovered [12]. So he kept striking out and his average kept dipping and he never made another catch over a railing again. So they sent him to Las Vegas to find his stroke and it proved irretrievable. So they traded him to Pittsburgh in 2014 and he was basically never heard from again except when he played for Israel in the WBC [13]. So like with Shawn Green the fact that he was a Jewish Met was nothing more than a pleasant footnote when he wasn’t producing. Still, lemme guess: you were more fired up [14] about the idea of voting for Ike Davis in 2010 than you were about Joe Lieberman in 2000.

I know neither one of them was ever elected to start in an All-Star Game. Just an observation to lighten the palpable tension.

Listen, whaddaya want from me, pal? This happens. Sometimes you invest your hope and your heart and even your head in a guy and you’re sure it adds up to a winner, and then it doesn’t. I’m pretty sure you’ve been around the block a time or two with this franchise. You know you don’t always get the Mets you want, just the Mets you get.

Yeah, yeah, it was gonna be different with Ike. Ike was gonna be here for the long haul. Ike was gonna anchor the infield. Ike was gonna be captain, maybe. Ike was gonna be our Moses and lead the Mets to the promised land, yet when they finally got close, in 2015, Ike Davis wasn’t within a shofar’s blow of the action. Hey, amigo, not every player who thinks about taking off Yom Kippur is Hank Greenberg. Kapeesh?

Sorry you lost your proverbial shirt on this one, friend. Oh, you still have the “We Like Ike” shirt? Well, good for you. At least ya got something. And, hey, ya got your memories of 2010, don’t ya? Well, that’s something. It was fun hoping and being sure you were on the ground floor of the next Met superstar [15], wasn’t it? A little, at least, right?

[16]

Still got the shirt.

What can I tell ya, pal? The prospects come, the prospects go [17], not that many make it to the big leagues, and among those who do, precious few stick around. If they all did, then ya wouldn’t have shed a tear when David Wright called it a day. But if you’re in the market for a real sure thing, I’ve got the inside word on another first baseman. Lots of power, lots of personality. A real horse, yet, get this, they call him the Polar Bear. No, I’m not sure why, but it’s catchy, right? Kid’s gonna be the best at the position the Mets have had since Mr. Seinfeld himself, Keith Hernandez. Maybe better.

Whaddaya say, Mac? C’mon, it’s only hope.

PREVIOUS METS FOR ALL SEASONS
1962 [18]: Richie Ashburn
1963 [19]: Ron Hunt
1964 [20]: Rod Kanehl
1966 [21]: Shaun Fitzmaurice
1969 [22]: Donn Clendenon
1970 [23]: Tommie Agee
1972 [24]: Gary Gentry
1973 [25]: Willie Mays
1977 [26]: Lenny Randle
1978 [27]: Craig Swan
1981 [28]: Mookie Wilson
1982 [29]: Rusty Staub
1983 [30]: Darryl Strawberry
1986 [31]: Keith Hernandez
1988 [32]: Gary Carter
1990 [33]: Gregg Jefferies
1991 [34]: Rich Sauveur
1992 [35]: Todd Hundley
1993 [36]: Joe Orsulak
1994 [37]: Rico Brogna
1995 [38]: Jason Isringhausen
1996 [39]: Rey Ordoñez
1998 [40]: Todd Pratt
2000 [41]: Melvin Mora
2001 [42]: Mike Piazza
2002 [43]: Al Leiter
2003 [44]: David Cone
2004 [45]: Joe Hietpas
2005 [46]: Pedro Martinez
2008 [47]: Johan Santana
2009 [48]: Angel Pagan
2012 [49]: R.A. Dickey
2013 [50]: Wilmer Flores
2014 [51]: Jacob deGrom
2019 [52]: Dom Smith