Mets’ spring training is less than an official week old and we’ve already had a mini-drama. This latest teacup tempest involves embattled first baseman Ike Davis. Davis, the subject of many a trade rumor this winter, the man on the hot seat, the repository of much Met fan frustration, boiled over at New York Post reporter Mike
Vaccaro Puma. Vaccaro Puma had written an article regarding the oblique strain that scuttled Davis’s season last year, revealing that Davis was actually dealing with it all season, but hid it from the higher ups. It was even hinted that this might explain Davis’s putrid 2013 statistics.
This, of course, caused ripples all through Port St. Lucie. It naturally stirred up all the jokes about the Mets’ medical staff. Among long-time fans, visions of “It’s day-to-day,” morphing into “Why isn’t he playing?” leading to “He’s on the DL,” finishing with “He’s out for the season” became fresh again. The article forced manager Terry Collins to go on-record with the truism that players should be responsible for reporting injuries to him and to the training staff. It caused casual fans to wonder if that really was the cause of Davis’s off year. Finally, it got Ike Davis’s dander up and this may turn out to be the most important consequence of all.
The day after
Vaccaro’s Puma’s article appeared, Davis confronted him in the Mets’ clubhouse. His argument was that the article was pointless. He was adamant that the injury had nothing to do with his results. Loudly, he told everyone “I sucked because I sucked.” To your intrepid columnist, this was a cool zephyr blowing through a potentially murky situation. This was a ballplayer stepping up and taking responsibility for the things he can control on the field. Here was a guy refusing to hide behind an injury; many athletes nowadays would call it out, seeking an excuse and forgiveness from the general public. Here was a teachable moment for the many youngsters in the room: nothing’s gonna bail you out but you, your performance and your attitude. It also spoke to the passion Davis brings to the game, passion which oftentimes is obscured by his calm, measured on-field demeanor. Face it: Ike Davis is not Paul O’Neill. Not a single 2013 water cooler needed to fear when Davis was around. The micro-blowup at Mike Vaccaro Puma gives lie to that image and it’s good to show the fans that side every once and awhile.
The major hope, of course, is that Ike Davis will be able to channel his anger into his at bats. We’ve all seen the power Davis is capable of when healthy and focused. If he can funnel his emotions into his plate appearances, fans populating the Pepsi Porch may end up with a couple of souvenirs. All winter, it’s been predicted – by me – that Davis will have a Dave Kingman type of year offensively: low AVG, decent OBP, high SLUG. Maybe if this incident snaps him out of his personal funk, this year might be a little more special than that. It might give the MSM something else to write about.
The fire this time.
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