Sunday, April 20, 2014

The End of Ike

Ike Davis took a long drag of his Cuban cigar.

"How about the Superman ending?" he pondered, as he looked out over the tree-dappled roofscape of Brooklyn Heights, bridges and dinosaurs in the distance. "How does he go again?"

"It would have to be something with kryptonite," said Sandy Alderson, working on a cigar himself, which emitted a narrow swerve of smoke from between Alderson's index and middle, leering over an excellently fancy boardroom chair. They were in his office on the 100th floor of the Mets building.

"On my first day here, I stayed on the 42nd floor. Everyone did. It was Jackie Robinson day, so we were all wearing the best number. Davis considered his 29th floor apartment. Who would occupy it after him? Would he be remembered by the apartment? By the number itself?

"Your kryptonite," Alderson continued, "if I may be direct in a way that I might imagine will benefit you in the future, is that some part of you believes always that there is an interesting object hanging over your right shoulder and a lit back and up. You know not to look, but still, you think it could be there."

"I think Spiderman dies a bunch of times," said Ike. "Makes sense, he's all instinct and quick reflexes. Soft on the inside. Spiders aren't like cats though. Only one life. Unless all their babies are clones of each other like with wasps, so then they kind of have hundreds of lives, but they all happen simultaneously. Are spider babies all clones of each other?"

"You were once our savior, Ike," said Alderson. "Before my time. You were the symbol that it was going to be alright."

"And now?"

"Now you're an important chapter in our history. This team is better for you, Ike. By the way, I think I know who to pick for your superhero ending."

The two of them chatted in their enormous chairs, which from behind looked like dark and angular silhouettes, nearly blocking out their entire bodies. They stayed until they had stubbed out their Cubans, taken from the 71st percentile in quality from Sandy's collection.

That night, the Mets gathered at Zombie Hut on Smith st. They cavorted over brewskis into the night. When it came time for Ike Davis to enjoy his ritualized superhero ending, Terry Collins handed him a cardboard replica of a television. Ike put it over his head, so that it appeared that he was on television.

Then he gave a long and surprisingly well-researched lecture on the military industrial complex, and how, more and more, it is becoming the everything industrial complex. The business of business is sucking us dry, Ike declared, and it's our business as Mets to put an end to it.

When at last he was finished, Ike, focused as a demon, went through an epic high-five line. He reached the door just as Pops, the doorman of the Mets building was stepping in. He looked Ike up and down.

"Be thee Met, or be thee not?" Pops asked.

"I am Met," said Ike Davis, as he pulled on his coat, a nondescript but pleasing shade of brown.

Then, as he crossed the threshold to the door:

"I am not."

Monday, April 14, 2014

Lagares Goes On A Residency

“There is a time in every young whackstick player’s life that they must experience the power of strength,” said Terry Collins to a curious Juan Lagares, during a break in Mets throwing practice at Cobble Hill Park. “The time for you is now, Juan, I am giving you a residency in being a good hitter.”

“Cool,” said Lagares, as he watched Daniel Murphy receive a throw from behind a cement dolphin. “I definitely don’t understand.”

“Think of it as a retreat, like when people go into the woods to paint stuff for like two weeks,” Collins explained.

“I’m good on that concept,” said Lagares. “Never tried it myself, except for a certain incident in which the spirit of yage commanded me to make the mark of my soul on a tree above a wasps nest several hundred feet above the ground, but I don’t think that’s what you’re getting at.”

“Well,” said Collins, leaning forward, “I’m glad you had that experience. There is no doubt in my mind it will help you with this. I’ve been talking with Sanderson and the others, and we all agree that you are the best fielder in the world. Actually, it’s between you and this Tibetan lady, but she doesn’t play baseball. Anyway, we are going to have you be a superior hitter for a few weeks to see if it takes.”

Lagares lowered his glove and snagged a baseball that had darted his way. He signed it with the name of his favorite sandwich, then threw it over the park fence to Lucas Duda, who was standing next to Ted and Honey. Duda abided, and went into Ted and Honey to get Lagares his lunch of choice. He also picked up some artisanal honey and expensive yet irresistible crackers. The cashier mentioned to Duda that those crackers inspired him to come up with his own spread, which is a combination of several nut butters and habanero paste.

“I’ll take three jars,” said Duda.

Back at the park, Terry Collins was looking at birds and saying stuff.

“I know what you’re thinking,” said Collins, “because you just told me while Lucas ordered your sandwich. If you could suddenly become a better hitter, you would do it. But—and not that many people know this—that’s not how baseball works. You can always try being someone else for a little while. We call it the Agbayani Project. You don’t have to do anything. In fact, most teams don’t even tell their players about their residencies, but we’re trying to be ethical about it. Which reminds me, we’re also going to give you a silver fingernail to scuff up the ball whenever you catch a fly. It makes the pitches bend more, and no one suspects the centerfielder.”

Lagares nodded, for this last he knew to be true. No one ever suspects the centerfielder.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Opening Day, 2014

It was opening day, and the Mets were jazzed. Imaginary little musical notes emanated from their struts.
“Wright year!” declared the star third baseman, pulling on his cleats in the clubhouse.
“It’ll be grand,” agreed Curtis, their well paid acquisition, as he chose from his 42 baseball gloves.
“I’m kind of the best human at baseball,” Lagares noted.
Standing in the middle of the room, nervously cupping his hands, stood Terry Collins. He had to give one of those beginning of the year speeches. Everything that went wrong for the next six months would make him think of whatever he was about to say next, and wonder if they were connected.
“We all have dreams,” he began, and then he snuck in a quick fist pump, because that seemed like a really good intro.
“I’m really glad you brought this up,” said Ike Davis, jumping in. “I had a dream about this team last night. I was riding a horse through a pretty badass field, and I just felt really free and optimistic. It made me think this is going to be a big year for all of us.”
“How does riding a horse relate to the Mets?” asked Travis d’Arnaud, who was a rookie, and still had so much to learn.
“Oh yeah, I left that part out,” said Ike. “See, last year right before the season started, I had this dream where—you know that scene in The Iliad where Achilles’ horse turns to him, and the horse is like, ‘You’re gonna die in this war, and there’s nothing you can do about it. That’s just how it works in this Greco-Roman mindfuck?—I had a dream that I was Achilles, but I was kind of also the horse, and Achilles was sort of the Mets. Then LBJ was there for some reason, and he said something about how ‘don’t worry, no one’s perfect,’ and I said, ‘yeah, but this still sucks,’ and the horse told me that I should have seen this coming.
“Last night’s dream also had a horse, but it wasn’t foreboding like the one I had in 2013, and 2013 turned out to be truly sub-optimal.”
The Mets nodded sagely. Ike’s dream was good news indeed.
“Yeah, um, good,” said Collins, trying to salvage his speech. “So listen, this is going to be a long year.”
“Because nothing lengthens time like success!” interrupted Eric Young.
The outfield high-fived each other in response. Collins nodded anxiously. He was already planning to say “nothing succeeds like success” at some point, but  he felt like he couldn’t now.
“But baseball is,” Collins paused for effect. He wanted his next words to sound well thought out.
The Mets all jumped and cheered on being reminded that the sport they play for a living exists. With no one saying that they should do so, they trotted out of the clubhouse on to the field, filled with exuberance.
Only Bobby Parnell hung back. As the closer he wouldn’t be needed for a while, but that wasn’t why. He had somehow forgotten to put on pants. Fortunately no one seemed to have noticed.

Collins did notice, however. Because he’s a good manager, he pretended not to. He couldn’t help but think that for Parnell, the start of the year was like a bad dream.