By John Delcos
Photo Credit: Getty Images
One of the more ridiculous things I’ve read in the wake of the Ike Davis-Mike Puma verbal spat is the notion this will motivate the underperforming first baseman. If that’s the case, the New York Mets have a greater problem than they thought.
That thinking is flawed on many levels. As a professional athlete, if Davis needs a confrontation with a reporter to fire him up, it says little about his mental constitution.
It says that constitution is weak.
A professional athlete should be motivated first by pride and a sense of accomplishment. These rank even ahead of money, as often times you’ll hear if a player is solely motivated by dollars his fire dies and the game becomes a grueling job.
The hottest fire is the desire to compete, and yelling at a reporter is misguided and wasted energy.
If you’ve seen Davis struggle you have to know his pride is wounded. That is where the rebuilding must originate. Arguing with a reporter does nothing to restore his pride, unless he thinks it makes him big in the eyes of his teammates. Even then, most were probably thinking to themselves, ``please Ike, shut up.’’
Davis’ confidence is in tatters for the simple reason because what worked for him in high school, college and minor leagues abandoned him in the major leagues.
The competition level is much greater and Davis has not adjusted. Those few good moments he’s enjoyed in the major leagues were snuffed out by superior pitching and injuries and he doesn’t know how to react.
One just does not restore confidence without a fundamental overhaul, which in Davis’ case is his basic Neanderthal approach to hitting of ``I see ball, I must crush it.’’
Davis labels himself as a ``home run’’ hitter with the understanding ``strikeouts will happen.’’
What Davis doesn’t understand is why strikeouts happen, which are because of both mechanical and mental flaws. The two become linked.
Davis wants to pull the ball and does use the whole field. Doing so leaves himself open to the mechanical issues of pulling his head off the pitch and opening up too quickly.
When that happens, there’s no way he can hit the outside pitch, especially if it is a breaking ball. He’s simply not in good hitting position.
Davis also has a terrible hitch and dramatically moves his hands before the pitch arrives, leaving him behind and slow in his swing.
The more he struggled with mechanics, the greater the frustration and the more he pressed. It grows into a vicious cycle.
If Davis said he was hurt last year I believe him, but what I don’t accept is the injury did not affect him. Being in pain makes it hard to swing the bat and slows everything.
And, hitting is about being quick. Be quick with your thinking and pitch recognition, with your hands, with your hips.
A slow hitter walks back to the dugout. And, yelling at a reporter does nothing to speed up your swing.
Mechanics are the issue and in Davis’ case they stem from a poor approach. That good stretch of at-bats he needs to get him going – as some said – will never come unless he changes his thinking.
Look, Davis said he wants to be with the Mets and I believe him. Yesterday probably hurt the chances of the Mets making a trade because the perception is Davis is a headache in the clubhouse.
And, in the parking lot.
That Davis continued with Puma in the parking lot shows he didn’t adjust to the incident from earlier in the morning. Much like he hasn’t adjusted to the down-and-away slider.
ON DECK: Mets not sold on Ruben Tejada - again
***John Delcos has covered Major League Baseball for over 20 years, including the Mets and Yankees since 1998. He is a Hall of Fame voter and owns and operates a Mets website, New York Mets Report.com