By Ernie Palladino
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Rickey Henderson, the eminent professor of journalism, once deigned to lecture a bunch of reporters in the Mets’ clubhouse after a tough loss.
On and on the great basestealer went, winding his way around the vagaries of modern journalism and criticizing how stories are picked and executed. It proved a fascinating speech, except for the fact that, by the time he finished, nobody knew what the heck he was talking about.
It was like that with Henderson. Talk to him about swiping bases or hitting leadoff home runs — and he hit plenty of those — and he was fine. Get him talking about matters outside the lines, well, it was purely pot luck. You never quite knew what you were going to get, only that the next 10 minutes or so would hold its share of comic entertainment.
We conjure up memories of Henderson today because of what happened in the Mets’ recent clubhouse. Ike Davis, a young player whose on-field career can in no way, shape or form be compared to any part of Henderson’s, went after a New York Post reporter Monday after that scribe had the audacity to write that kept an oblique injury from management during his miserable 2013 season.
Davis blasted said reporter, who stood by his story. And then, between alternate rounds of hectoring and berating, he expounded on his theory of modern journalism.
Simply, he called the article “overblown.”
OK. So here’s the thing in a nutshell. Davis, who finished last year’s demotion-marred season at .205 with nine homers and 33 RBIs, supposedly concealed an injury — one that would undoubtedly affect his swing — from the people who sign his paycheck. All this happened as he made out after out, the ball eluding his bat as effectively as a jackrabbit eludes a rattler in one out of every five at-bats.
In the world of Davis, that represents overstatement.
That kind of silliness probably is why free agent Nelson Cruz now works in Baltimore instead of Flushing.
“I sucked last year because I sucked, not because I had an injury,” Davis ranted. “You always have injuries, and now it just looks bad.”
Yeah, kind of. Then again, how one might sugarcoat the fact that a seemingly instrumental part of the lineup kept secret an injury from the guy who writes up that lineup is more a creative fiction than a journalism issue. Of course it’s a story. Especially when that player’s production sits in the dumper or, just as bad, Triple-A Las Vegas.
This could all be a sign that perhaps it’s time the Mets cut ties with the troubled free swinger. There is naturally a trust issue between Davis, Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson now. And then there is the all-or-nothing — more nothing than all — production issue.
Alderson tried to drum up some trade interest during the offseason, with little luck. This is not over, though, as the Mets might find a taker as Opening Day draws closer.
If they get a bite, they’d be wise to trade Davis. He may never recover his swing. For a team believed to be no better than 71 wins if one listens to the odds makers, they need to unload the dead wood and at least get a prospect or a draft pick for it.
Otherwise, the Mets will be stuck with a guy who can’t hit, doesn’t like talking to his superiors about injuries and squawks when his hiding of them hits the newspapers and websites.
For a team trying to move up, that’s not a good problem to have.
Whether the goodbye can come soon enough is the question.
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