Fans have been waiting just over two months to say it before Gary Cohen made the proclamation following Ike Davis‘ seventh home run of the year last night, which just so happened to be his first career grand slam. “Well, Ike Davis is back,” Cohen said to Mets fans after watching his deep fly ball land in the Party City Deck out in left center field. Although Ike has received a lot of criticism during his career-long slump (by myself included), it’s great to see him finally turning the corner.
Now on a nine-game hitting streak, Davis has risen his season batting average from .158 on June 8th to .196 with his home run last
night. During this span of games, the young Mets first baseman is 12-for-26, which equals an eye popping .462 batting average. It was even more encouraging to see last night’s bomb fly out to left center field, as Davis has been continuing to spray the ball the opposite way with authority. What we’ve been seeing from Ike in the past week and a half is what he did after his call-up in 2010 and in 2011 before an ankle injury derailed his season.
Don’t get me wrong, before he went on this tear, I was strongly in favor of moving Lucas Duda to first base while Ike figured himself out at Triple-A Buffalo. He said to reporters that he didn’t think it would help because he still needs to hit Major League pitching, even if he hit .400 for the Bisons.While that’s true, I still thought it needed to happen. Even though Terry Collins rode out this slump to the bitter end (too long if you ask me), it has finally paid off as the first baseman is now consistently producing.
When asked about how he feels with his slump behind him, he had the best comeback, saying that it’s not over until the season ends. Very true, as Ike’s 2012 season will always first remembered for this slump, no matter what he does from here on out. What struck me the most was what he said about helping the team win:
“I just honestly want to help the team win every day. I don’t need the personal stats. I just like to feel a part of the team, and obviously at the beginning of the year I wasn’t helping at all. Lately I’ve started to help the team more, and that’s the biggest thing.”
While this sound cliche, he’s right. It’s a lot more fun playing baseball when you feel like you’re contributing to the team’s success. When the team is winning and you’re not producing, it’s frustrating because everyone around you is doing something, and when the team is losing, you’re not helping get the result everyone wants. So, it’s just gratifying for Ike to help his team win.
Collins said all year that despite his slump, Ike always brings something to the table, usually talking about his defense, but he shed some light in last night’s post-game press conference about thoughts from opposing managers. Even though he couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn, Collins recently had conversations with two managers who said that Davis’ presence in the lineup still scared them. So, there you have it; just knowing that he could break out at any time with one swing is scary enough for the opposition.
The culmination of it all came when the fans urged Davis for a curtain call after his grand slam last night. There is no doubt that had to make him feel good and feel wanted by the fans, who he says have been behind him the whole time. Although I supported sending him to the minors, I did pray with each at-bat that one swing would change his fortune. To finally show the Met faithful at home that he’s back (he’s now hitting .130 in home games this year) was even more important.
Welcome back, Ike. We’ve all missed you!