Di-JEST (by Larry Smith) R.I.P. Ike's Career
A word to the reader about this article. I wrote this a few days ago and was putting the finishing touches on it on Sunday night when the "news" broke that Ike Davis was dealing with an oblique injury throughout the entirety of the 2013 season. A responsible journalist might well factor that in and kill his article. But since when are bloggers confused with responsible journalists? So I shall run it. The news itself made me wonder what I would say directly to the player. And in a sympathetic understanding way I would probably tell Mr. Davis this: "Are you out of your friggen mind? After the disaster that was the 2012 season you continued to try and play through pain, or at least discomfort, in 2013? Your swing which when you are healthy is herky jerky enough to be iffy at best can't afford to take the hit that playing with pain would induce. You're paid to contribute to the ball club not just to go out there and try to salvage your job. Get medical treatment and rest and then come back when you can be at your best."
It's been said that a professional athlete dies two deaths. After the second one, the one that lasts a whole lot longer, family and friends gather to support each other, gain closure, and say farewell to the departed.
I was thinking about what it might be like if we similarly had a funeral for an athlete's first death, the demise of his career.
We all know that in the next month or so Ike Davis will be in a competition for the firstbase job on the Mets. Should he lose out - to Lucas Duda or some firstbaseman to be named later - his career will be on death's door, so to speak. He'll be relegated to the bench or AAA Las Vegas. He might even see himself released. Given his history there would be a team (Baltimore, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh to name candidates) that would give him a chance hoping that their hitting coach could "fix" Ike's broken swing. But if they're unsuccessful it would be over for the player.
Here's what I think the funeral for Ike's career would look and sound like just a couple of years from now.
Picture the Jackie Robinson Rotunda at CitiField with a few hundred people gathered slowly walking past an open casket. In the casket there is one of Ike's bats with all the scuff marks still there near the handle and at the far end. The "meat" area is pristine, untouched. The casket has Ike's number 29 marked on the side.
The crowd is silent and respectful but the sound of the vendors hawking peanuts, hotdogs, and $8 beers is clearly audible.
Then the Baseball Minister enters and speaks:
My friends. Thank you for coming as we pay our last respects to the career of Isaac Benjamin Davis. But we all knew him simply as Ike.
Before I begin let me familiarize you with today's program. After my talk we'll also have a eulogy from Ike's former teammate Jason Bay. This is only fitting as you recall how eloquently Ike spoke at the funeral for Jason's career after the 2013 season.
Then another of Ike's former teammates, Justin Turner, will do the ceremonial dipping of Ike's bat into a shaving cream pie. Later today the bat will be incinerated in our Baseball Crematorium. Ashes to ashes, you know. And now let us think of Ike's career.
It is gone all too swiftly and all too soon at the tender age of 29. Let us recall together the good times, the 32 homerun season and the tumbling into dugouts after wayward foul pops. It was not all so long ago that we in the Mets family believed we had a rising star, a Votto, a Goldschmidt, a Hosmer of our own. But the Baseball Gods can easily tear a player from that perch and turn him into a Justin Smoak, a Brett Wallace, or a Mitch Moreland. And in the case of our dear friend Ike it became worse even than that.
In the paraphrased but immortal words of Elton John- "It seems to me he swung his bat like a Candle in the Wind. Always fading in the sunset when the pitch came in."
And while we smile reliving the good times we must also reflect on the bad times. Those Aprils and Mays and Junes when Ike, the cleanup hitter, could not get his batting average over the Mendoza Line. We rooted for him, we suffered with him, and yes - let's say it aloud, we came to boo him as he made out after out. We're human, after all, my friends and while he wanted to succeed and we wanted it so much for him, success was not to come.
Oh sure, he'd show us something as the season would be winding down and while GM Alderson was selling off pieces as the team would be limping home with another sub .500 record. But in the end it was too little and certainly too late.
And so it goes for this former Met. There'll be no glorious farewell tour like the one given to Mariano Rivera back in '13 or the one Derek Jeter had in 2014. It's just a career vanished from the scene years before its time.
I'm sure you join me in hoping and praying that Ike's post-baseball life is far longer and more enjoyable than his career which we mourn today.
Can I get an "AMEN" ?
Larry writes a humor column for us at The Real Dirty Mets Blog once or more per week. You can follow Larry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/@dr4sight There he comments on the teams that drive him crazy: the Mets, both NY football teams, the NY Rangers, and the Knicks.