Sunday, April 25, 2010

Enter Ike

Ike Davis looked up at the building, so much taller than the others around it in Brooklyn Heights, but otherwise inconspicuous with its grey facade and worn down awning. The only thing distinguishing it from an oversized apartment building were the letters on the doorknob that he turned with just a hint of tentativeness: "Believe."

A scraggly doorman slept on the sports section of the Daily News as he entered. "Hello?" tried Ike, trying to simultaneously make this man aware of his presence and respect his wishes to sleep. He repeated himself louder when the man didn't stir, but still to no avail.

At last he resorted to ringing the bell, hoping someone else might come out.

Like a shot of electricity went through him, the scraggly doorman burst into activity.
"Well now well now, be thee Met or be thee not for only Mets shall pass."

"I'm Met I think," said Ike with a tepid self-deprecating chuckle.

"You're new then," said the little man, squonching up his already barely visible eyes.

"Yes. Just got called up today. I'm the first baseman." The man leafed through a notebook with hundreds of pages worn down through the subtle forces that wear all things down given enough time. A potted plant that looked just a little bit sad looked down at the notebook too.

"Ah, there you are. Davis. Ike. You gonna make the boys proud Ike?"

"I'll try my best to-"

"To what son?"

"To score a lot of runs. And hit them too."

Ike Davis thought about the awkwardness of his phrasing. He had had an inexplicable urge to say "to end the military-industrial complex," but managed to swallow it before it came out. He had plenty of time to think about it as the elevator brought him up slowly enough to notice every floor on the way to the 42nd. The buttons went up to 99.

The elevator opened up onto an apartment with stylish leather couches, a dining room table littered with glasses and bottles, a TV blaring in one corner and video games firing up in the other. Also in the room were 27 other men. A Dominican with dreds, lithe and shirtless, half-leaning against the wall, said "Es Ike! El savior esta aqui!" Ike recognized his from TV as Jose Reyes. He recognized many of them, but he had his own life to attend to, and he hadn't seen all of them.

A man wearing a shirt with a lion looking nobly into the distance. He led with his pecs, stepping them forward as he walked. He stuck out a handshake, and said "David Wright. Glad to have you on the team. Take a seat. Razor, open this man a coconut!"

Ike was sat down in a chair at the end of the dining room table as an African American man who was older than all but a few of them there took a machete to a young coconut and poured the liquid into a glass.

"To your health and continued success in your short little moment in this slammin cosmic dance," said Razor Shines through a grin and sunglasses.

The coconut water was intensely refreshing, and Ike felt more vivacious with every sip. Soon he was chatting lively with anyone who would come over to his chair. He spoke to Alex Cora about the various mountains they had climbed and to Rod Barajas about the most embarrassing things they'd said in the middle of a class. Jason Bay spent most of the night playing video games, but he did come over at one point to ask if Ike wanted to see the Bay Bridge. "The..." said Ike, hoping Bay would finish his sentence.

Without warning Bay leapt toward the ground and caught himself with his hands, bringing himself down slowly. He then flipped over, caught himself in a bridge lifted himself into a handstand and then folded himself perfectly into a standing position. "That's the Bay Bridge baby!" he shouted, punching the air. He and Davis high-fived, and then Bay whacked open another coconut and went back to Mario Kart.

Jerry Manuel was in the midst of rubbing a light blue cream on his nose when Ike Davis walked in, but he stopped what he was doing to welcome his new player.

"You'll be on 29 once the week is out, but for now I can only offer you this corner of the den."

Ike looked at him quizzically.

"You will have the entire 29th floor," repeated Jerry. "But this week we are all staying here."

Ike didn't want to be rude, but given the enormous size of this building and the compactness of this one floor, and the great number of Mets...

"I know what you're thinking," said Howard Johnson, who had appeared behind him with a coconut with a straw sticking out of it. "You are thinking we are all insane. That the vapors of untruth have whirled into our nostrils. And at that you may be correct Ike. But we are the Mets. We do things this way, because- well Ike, I guess you could call us believers. This week we're all wearing 42 because it's Jackie Robinson week. So we're all staying on 42 too. That's how it works."

"Well," said Ike. "I do sure like this coconut water."

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