Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday Musings on Sports - We like Ike over Mike, but will Daniel take a hike?

As regular readers of this blog are aware, the Monday post was usually devoted to sports with highlights and analysis of the Max Kellerman show which formerly aired on 1050 ESPN Radio. Although Max resigned from 1050 almost one year ago, I have tried to continue the tradition of linking sports to Torah which I believe was an undercurrent of the Max Kellerman show.

Late this afternoon, the news came that the NY Mets has recalled prize first base prospect Ike Davis and that he would be starting for the Mets against the Cubs this evening. The story was not a big surprise as the Mets had announced on Sunday that they had designated Mike Jacobs for assignment. Perhaps the bigger surprise was that it took the Mets so long to make the move.

As masochists (read Mets fans) may recall, last year the Mets were forced to experiment with playing Daniel Murphy at first base after brittle Carlos Delgado went down for the final time (yes he is still saying that he will come back, but the man can't walk!). Murphy was not a natural first baseman and had come up through the Mets farm system as a third baseman, before making his major league debut as an outfielder.

Despite Murphy's history and largely because the Mets did not want to spend money on bringing in a free agent or absorbing a contract, the Mets auditioned Murphy at first base. Although his fielding was raw, he did add a bat to the lineup, so they kept him at the position for the year.

Fast forward to 2010 spring training and Ike Davis is tearing the cover off the ball. This thrills my family to no end as last summer on Camp M visiting day I took the kids to see the Binghamton Mets play at NYSEG stadium. We saw future Mets Ruben Tejada, Josh Thole and Ike Davis play along with some other prospects who may or may not pan out. I don't recall Davis hitting for power, but I do remember being impressed with his fielding.

Towards the end of spring training, Daniel Murphy was injured while running the bases and the media began clamoring for Ike to make the team. The Mets were not inclined to start the season with Davis on the major league squad and decided to send Davis down to AAA Buffalo. As such, the Mets began the season with a platoon of Mike Jacobs and Fernando Tatis as their first basemen. However, Jacobs did not begin the season well and the team decided to cut their losses by designating Jacobs for assignment.

While driving in the car this afternoon, I heard an interesting discussion between Brandon Tierney and Jody Mac as to what should happen to Ike Davis when Daniel Murphy returns from injury. (Great move adding Jody Mac to the BT show - listening to Tierney without a co-host is more painful than root canal without anesthesia).

The discussion between Tierney and Jody Mac focused on Ike's production and what he would need to do in order to keep the starting job on Murphy's return. However, the conversation on this show did not involve the old sports adage "you can't lose your job because of injury." The reason could be because Murphy has never distinguished himself, or because there have been so many Wally Pipp exceptions.

The aforementioned sports injury conversation always makes me think about the gemara in Yoma which discusses a kohain gadol (high priest) who is temporarily unable to serve. There are multiple reasons for this, including if he became unintentionally impure through exposure to a dead body, or his wife had passed away (he must be married to represent the tzibur on Yom Kippur). Since there must be a kohain gadol, there is another appointed to take his place. However, when the kohain gadol becomes eligible, what happens to the replacement? The gemara indicates that the substitute does not keep the job, nor does he return to his previous lower level of service. Instead he is continued to be treated with respect, while the former kohain gadol returns to his position.

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