Orioles' Chris Davis draws admiration for his handling of adversity - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Orioles’ Chris Davis draws admiration for his handling of adversity

Suddenly, an .089 hitter became a folk hero. This weekend, Chris Davis went from being pitied to a sought-after guest on talk shows.

On Monday morning, shortly before the Orioles’ Patriots’ Day game against the Boston Red Sox, Davis, who a few days earlier was cheered by tiny crowds in Baltimore, was on national sports shows to talk about his perseverance.

When the Orioles’ home season began, and Davis was hitless, he was booed each time he struck out. After the three games with the New York Yankees that drew large crowds came four games against Oakland, and a record-low crowd, followed by three modest gatherings.

Whenever Davis came to bat against the A’s, he was cheered, and his outs were greeted with encouragement.

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In some fans’ eyes, Davis went from an overpaid, greedy player who should be sent to the minors, an eye doctor, or home, to a sympathetic character.

He hit the ball hard in some of those hitless at-bats in Baltimore. When he ended the record for most consecutive at-bats, 54, and plate appearances, 62, without a hit, he was cheered in Baltimore and by fans at Fenway Park.

Many of those fans in Baltimore remembered that it wasn’t all that long ago that Davis twice led the major leagues in home runs. In Boston, they recalled when he won a 17-inning game as a pitcher.

They didn’t want to see him humiliated. They wanted him to get a hit.

His teammates, all younger and many of them new to him, have quickly taken to Davis, who despite being extremely polite and well-spoken, is very much a loner.

When he came into the clubhouse on Saturday, they began to cheer and bang on lockers, causing him to get emotional. Davis even called for the ball when he got his first hit, which he plans to auction off to benefit the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital

Despite past criticism questioning his willingness to work on changing his approach at the plate, his teammates saw how hard he worked this spring.

And even though there are still fans who think Davis should be satisfied to take his money and disappear, the Orioles have no intention of releasing him, and he has no intention of quitting.

Still, he wasn’t enjoying the added attention the streak was bringing, and that his manager and teammates were being asked about it constantly.

During the weekend, though, it turned into a feel-good story about persevering through adversity.

Not long after appearing on “The Dan Patrick Show” and MLB Network on Monday morning, Davis hit his first  home run in nearly eight months. MLB Network’s Robert Flores said he couldn’t help but pull for Davis after talking with him on Monday.

After starting the season 0-for-33, Davis has had four hits in his last 12 at-bats to bring his average to .089. He was scratched from the Orioles’ 4-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night because of illness.

In order to achieve a modest goal, a .200 average after 100 at-bats, Davis would have to go 16-for-55, a .290 clip, to get to .200.

That’s hard to do, but if Davis has regained his stroke with the help of the team’s new hitting coach, the skilled Don Long, perhaps he can get to .200—or even higher.

After he signed the team record, seven-year, $161 million contract, Davis’ average fell to .221 in 2016, but he still compiled a .332 on-base percentage because of his 88 walks.

Those numbers were followed by a .215 average in 2017 and an unfathomable .168 last year.

Fans hope that the weekend was a sign that Davis is making strides. When he hits, and hits with power, it gives the Orioles’ lineup another dimension.

However, if Davis falls into another gigantic slump, the goodwill he’s engendered is likely to disappear.

For now, let’s remember the true Oriole fans who didn’t mind being part of small crowds, who made sure that Davis was appreciated. For them, those glory days of “Crush Davis” haven’t yet gone away.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. AndyHare

    April 17, 2019 at 7:15 am

    In the end it’s a game…Crush has always played hard and with passion….and Orioles fans have always been classy. We’re with you Chris!

  2. VICTORTEE

    April 17, 2019 at 8:31 am

    I am not going to lie. I was happy when they signed him to the big contract. He was one of the best home run hitters in the majors thru 2015. Go Crush!

  3. Camden Brooks

    April 17, 2019 at 9:14 am

    Very well said Rich, particularly the last paragraph!

    • Rich Dubroff

      April 17, 2019 at 12:16 pm

      Thank you, Camden Brooks.

  4. CalsPals

    April 17, 2019 at 9:22 am

    Wishing him the best…

  5. Tony Paparella

    April 17, 2019 at 10:02 am

    I must say I was disappointed he was unable to play yesterday.I want to see if he can turn all of this around.The last few games he has made decent contact (as was noted) and it would be great if he can continue on that path.

  6. DevoTion

    April 17, 2019 at 10:02 am

    I’m not going to lie. I have been getting onto Davis for his poor hitting the past two plus years. But, I like many fans have had a change of heart over the past couple of weeks. What changed, why did people and myself start pulling for him rather than jeer him? It’s a weird kind of feel good story that I hope continues for the rest of his career.

  7. Boog Robinson Robinson

    April 17, 2019 at 10:38 am

    Our former hero in these parts, Dan Connolly once reminded me in this very forum what our mothers to,ld us as children and that is “if you don’t have anything good to say about something …”

    I’ll leave it at that.

  8. willmiranda

    April 17, 2019 at 11:05 am

    Good for Chris! But I think an underreported aspect is that he’s the Orioles player rep with the union and there’s politics involved with how he’s spoken of by various sides. His perseverance in holding on to his contract is more than personal interest and Boras’ stick-it-to-the-owners. Every underperforming player has a stake in his fate. If owners take on a union rep, they’re taking on the union. Again, I’m glad for Davis personally, especially in view of the unwarranted abuse cast on him. But I’d like to read more about the backroom exchanges. He may be “a loner,” but maybe not so much.

  9. Hallbe62

    April 17, 2019 at 11:27 am

    Good article Rich. Although Crush has fallen a little short in regards to earning his current paycheck, he will always have me as a fan.

    Hitting MLB pitchers is not even close to being easy. Imagine FAILING 70% of the time at the plate for your entire career.

    Yet that same hitter would have a lifetime batting average at or near .300.

    The Hall is full of players who failed nearly 70% of the time at the plate.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      April 17, 2019 at 11:51 am

      But there aren’t too many that failed 80% of the time.

      • Jbigle1

        April 17, 2019 at 12:44 pm

        Or 90% of the time like the current iteration of Davis. I don’t think you need to be a “true orioles fan” to love this guy. I don’t hate him, he certainly isn’t trying to suck and Angelos was dumb enough to create “Davis money” in our payroll . Cheering and encouraging a grown man who isn’t even half way to the Mendoza line wouldn’t happen in most cities. I guess it’s a good thing he’s not in NY, Philly, or Boston. . But then again teams like that wouldn’t have held onto a sinking ship this long.

      • Hallbe62

        April 17, 2019 at 1:10 pm

        True Boog.

        And as Rich pointed out, CD will have to hit a whole lot more just to reach that 80% failure plateau.

    • Rich Dubroff

      April 17, 2019 at 12:17 pm

      Thank you, Hallbe.

  10. GSISDANNO

    April 17, 2019 at 1:30 pm

    There is no doubt that the Boston series was a “feel good” moment for the Orioles. Nobody likes to see a decent person go through all that failure.

  11. BirdsCaps

    April 17, 2019 at 6:18 pm

    I am both happy for Chris and annoyed that we have to see him struggle every day (even though I know he’s on a bit of a hot streak at the moment). Every time I see crush at bat I think of 1) what prospects he is blocking (Mancini moving to 1st and a call up for an outfield spot) and what else the $161 million could have been spent on (e.g. a Machado extension). In short, I wish him the best either as a return to the Crush we knew or as a retired player (after the birds release him).

  12. Jbigle1

    April 18, 2019 at 1:20 am

    I don’t understand why we sat him today against a right hander. I’m guessing Hyde anticipated Yarbrough after stanek instead of chirinos? Sitting Davis while he is “hot” against a RHP seems a little counterproductive to me.

  13. Bhoffman1

    April 18, 2019 at 7:24 am

    He starts hitting then he gets sick. Only Chris.

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