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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
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.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Ike Gets Called Up

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.”
“It is.”
“You said you’re that awesome Met they called up who we’ve been dying to see.”
“I am.”
“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!”
“That’s Ike.”

“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.”
“They have?”
“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.”
“On WFAN?”
“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?”
“When? Now?”
“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?”
“Uh, no.”
“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.

26 comments to Ike Gets Called Up

  • oogieball

    But it is *different* this time, don’t you see? See? … they never see.

  • Do the name Gregg Jeffries ring a bell? he was slated for the Hall of Fame before he even arrived at Shea.

    • Jefferies was, indeed, hyped to high heavens, but he was not brought in to snap the Mets out of the perennial doldrums, just to light a spark. We fell in love with him, but the context was a little different.

  • Rob D.

    Where’s the call about Mike Vail??

  • Joe D.

    You can add to those names two sure fire prospects that we traded for:

    – Don Bosch
    – Dan Norman

  • Doctuh

    I was sitting about 10 feet from Alex Ochoa last night.

  • srt

    You’re raining on our parade, Greg….

    Seriously, congrats to the kid and I’m just hoping he’s solid for us. Something about lefty throwing, lefty hitting firstbasemen…

    • Merely drizzling as a defense mechanism. I’d be happy to clear space for 29 on the left field wall (unless Ike only hits as 42, in which case, we’re covered).

  • Guy Kipp

    We should really break this down into 2 categories: Overhyped call-ups, and call-ups who were not hyped but who exploded onto the scene upon their arrival. Alex Ochoa fits the bill on both counts. Mike Jacobs was not a hotly anticipated call-up at all, but as soon as he came up, he started hitting home runs every night.
    Two other players who fit that meme were Rico Brogna and Benny Agbayani, although each of them actually did distinguish themselves at least for a brief time in a Met uniform.

    • Jacobs’ precedents were indeed who you mentioned, but it’s hard to forget (for me anyway) that he was The Man, particularly considering he was Just Here.

  • This is a great example of how faulty our farm system is. The last 4 of our can’t miss prospects that became big stars for us: Wright, Reyes, Gooden, Strawberry.

    Meanwhile, you didn’t even scratch the surface in the world of our can’t-miss busts.

    But hey, I like Ike too. If it doesn’t work out, maybe he can barnstorm with Adam Kennedy, Randy Johnson, Trot Nixon, Whitey Ford, Gary Carter, Homer Bush…

  • Mike

    Loved the sarcasm.

    I hope that those fans, who are so willing to jump on the Ike bandwagon, don’t have to jump off of it, ever. But, if they do feel the need to jump, I fear that they won’t recall your “warning.”

    I find it especially well stated, now, since so much of this season’s early banter has used the line “‘x’ games (six, seven, eight, nine – take your pick) is too small a sample.” Why would they think that one game is a big enough sample?

    We’ve been around this merry-go-round before. Let’s give the new Metsiah a chance, before we pile the world on his shoulders. Last thing we want/need is another ‘franchise face’ with waning stats.

  • Lenny65

    My fear is that in a few months we’ll be watching a troubled and disillusioned Ike Davis hitting a cool .211 and wandering around the outfield confusedly after being pressed into service due to George Fost…I mean Jason Bay’s “leg fatigue” which will in fact turn out to be two fractured femurs. But that’s still several months away (probably). If Ike ever did play any other positions, he’d be well advised to keep that info to himself lest Jerry & Omar pull a “HoJo” on him.

    It’s just nice to see a “new Met” who isn’t yet another washed-up reject from Omar’s “Last Train To Pensionville” slag heap. It was inevitable I suppose, eventually that pool of players born in 1975 or earlier will dry up.

  • Inside Pitcher

    No calls from 1983?

  • Jacobs27

    Nice piece, Greg. I always love these temporally tangled dialogues.

  • march'62

    Gee, Greg, that was heartbreaking. I know why there was no call for Craig Swan. It’s because once he gets his arm woes straightened out he’ll be back with the big club pitching lights out.

  • Andee

    I don’t recall Jacobs or Ochoa or Murphy ever being very highly touted prospects right out of the gate; maybe you know something I don’t? (Wouldn’t be the first time. :-P)

    Wikipedia says the Orioles drafted Ochoa in the third round but he never played for them; he came over in the Bobby Bo trade. Considering we were desperate for someone, anyone, to take Bonilla off our hands, I can’t imagine that they thought Alex was a can’t-miss, or they would have hung on to him.

    Gregg Jefferies would be a more felicitous comparison, but their attitudes (so far) seem about 180 degrees apart, and it was Jefferies’ lack of maturity, not his talent, that did him in. Of course, we don’t know that Ike won’t ego-out on all the fawning attention, because that would be really easy to do. Or, for that matter, that he won’t go into a protracted slump after a steady diet of sliders. (Mmmm, sliders.) And I think his upside is a lot more Olerud than Pujols.

    But here’s the interesting thing about Olerud: He didn’t have time to amass minor-league hype, because he went straight from college to the majors. And even he took 3 or 4 years to become “John Olerud.” I’m willing to give Davis that much time, but I don’t know if Joe Average Fan is.

    • 1988 called looking for Jefferies, but Ike heard Rick Astley blaring in the background, thought he was being Rickrolled and hung up immediately.

      • Andee

        Heh. Do kids his age know what “Rickrolling” is? (Or why it’s funny?)

        I’m actually kind of happy he didn’t get a hit last night. It’ll help keep him modest.

  • […] His world has now fallen apart three times in 2010: the injury in March, Davis getting called up in April and the cheap slide of June. But before Saturday, he still had one thing going for him […]