His Early season struggles have been well-documented after losing virtually all of 2011 to injury, and Ike Davis is wearing his emotions on his sleeve as he’s stumbled out to a 2-28 start at the plate before his 2-4 day in Philadelphia on Sunday, followed by his three-run bomb last night. Baseball is a fickle game; you can feel on top of the World one day, but then you get served up a nice hearty piece of humble pie the very next day. In an offense that can truly take off with a productive Davis hitting in the clean up spot, there is a lot of pressure on the Mets first baseman, and manager Terry Collins can see the pressure he’s feeling just by looking at him.
This is why the temperament of Collins is perfect for New York; instead of pulling his best Ozzie Guillen impression and mouthing off
about it to the media, he pulled his player aside to give him some words of wisdom and encouragement as he’s trying to bust out of this slump. In speaking about Davis’ struggles at the plate, Collins said, “The game will humble you. How you’re going to get out of it determines what kind of success you’re going to have.”
Truer words have never been spoken. This is not the first slump that Ike has had to endure throughout his baseball life, and at the tender age of 25, it will certainly not be his last. Sometimes, it doesn’t take technical advice or a sit-down session to break down someone’s swing to get them out of a slump; a little encouragement goes a long way. For any current or former baseball player who has ever been in a slump, you know how helpless this can feel. Tony Gwynn touched upon that feeling in his book, The Art of Hitting; even though all slumps eventually come to an end, it never feels like a current slump will ever be a distant memory. Multiply that feeling by 100 because Davis is in the Major Leagues, and then by 1,000 because he’s a young player with high expectations playing for a New York team.
Collins giving his first baseman some space before chatting with him about his slump was a great move. Baseball is a metaphor to life in a lot of respects, and like life, getting out of a tough spot doesn’t require any specific type of advice, just a shoulder to lean on and a vote of confidence. Everyone knew that sooner or later Davis was going to blast a homer like he did in the first inning on Sunday against Cole Hamels, but now he’s proved to himself that he can still do it. Without the support of his manager and confidence to pencil him into the lineup everyday, the length of this slump could have been a lot longer.
We usually blame a manager when things are going bad, but it’s time to start recognizing when they’re doing great as well. Collins has known most of the young Mets for a number of years now, and that helps him deal with them as they go through the ups and downs of a Major League season. He’s an integral part to this team, allowing them the right amount of independence and guidance to become solid professional baseball players.