OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 8: Ike Davis #17 of the Oakland Athletics bats during the game against the Houston Astros at O.co Coliseum on August 8, 2015 in Oakland, California. The Athletics defeated the Astros 2-1. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images)
The slight, long-limbed first baseman with the loping swing that can either send a ball skyrocketing or miss it entirely.
The plunge is exciting. Because with Ike Davis comes promise.
The right field porch was designed for hitters like Ike Davis. On a hot summer day, fans’ white t-shirts flecked with sweat and shining, all lined up like a hundred angels beckoning another white sphere to join their ranks. A sea of jostling patrons in 100 degree weather, 300 feet away, yet seemingly inches apart from bat-on-ball. The right field porch is a place to feast and pepper. It’s enticing, but cruelly, its fruits only come to those who don’t seek it. For those whose swings naturally shoot the ball towards the promised land, the porch feeds the beast. But unnaturally attempt to send a ball there, and your swing will begin to choke itself to death.
Ike Davis can heed the call. His swing almost seems to have never been honed by instruction. The high, sweeping hilt it forms must’ve been coached out of him 1,000 times. But it stuck. And now the porch could come calling.
It’s deliciously ironic the Yankees inked Ike on Old Timers’ Day. His father, Ron Davis, knows the Yankees well, after all, and is a frequent attendee of the event. The bespectacled hurler knows all about succeeding in New York when your image hardly screams “marquee superstar”. He was an elite reliever on the biggest stage in the world, all while looking a lot more like a star history student in a college comedy about crusty old deans, or like your dad’s first drivers’ license photo. And now gangly, awkward Ike will follow in his ill-fitting footsteps, taking over for the prototype in smoothness, Mark Teixeira.
I’m rooting for Ike Davis. After all, it’s easy.
How can you not root for someone who tasted glory and acclaim immediately, then lost it and has since grasped at straws? Someone who may have been manhandled by a criminally ineffective Mets training staff that might as well be seven Dr. Kevorkians?
Following in the footsteps of Ryan Church, who was allowed to fly cross-country with a severe concussion (what?!), Ike was one of the next group of Mets to be doomed into oblivion by lax diagnoses and devil-may-care disease suppression. First, it was an ankle bruise that didn’t need surgery, sure, sure, yeah, but kept him out nearly an entire season. Then it was valley fever, a dust-borne infection from the American southwest, which is so rare you can’t help but wonder if a Mets team doctor accidentally dropped a vial of it in Ike’s cereal. No one should get that disease. The Mets found a way to infect Ike with it.
And so, with power as his calling card, he became a weary, wandering slugger, looking to lock himself into the level he burst onto the scene with, and forever peering around the corner for the approaching home he once knew.
Pittsburgh was nearly his domain, until it wasn’t. Oakland never seemed like a fit from the start; a massive ballpark not tailored to his swing, and far too close to the American southwest.
Now, Ike is home. Just a few miles down from the place where he first became a cult hero, he can plant his feet in the dirt and attempt to lead the Yankees’ rehabilitation revolution. For the Yankees to avoid making a move would’ve been senseless.
For them to make a move for Ike feels like, at the very least, a deserved opportunity and a calculated chance.
I’m rooting for Ike Davis. He can paint those right field stands with baseballs. Maybe he doesn’t. But I’m choosing to believe.