It’s been no secret how dreadful Chris Davis has been. At the time of writing this, Davis is currently in an 0-49 hitless streak dating back to last season. The record is 0-46 and last night he surpassed it. For the same reason everyone slows down to look at a car accident, no matter how horrific it may be, many watched the Orioles’ game last night.
But why do we look at car accidents? What prevents us from solely driving by, carrying on with our lives? Simply put, we don’t see car crashes every day. It’s nice knowing 99.9% of us will be fine driving every day, and we take that safety for granted. But of course there is that anomaly. It can be a drunk driver, texting while driving, a vehicle malfunction, really anything. And while we look at these crashes we never encourage that they happen.
Chris Davis is a baseball anomaly. I don’t need to go any further than that or explain where he ranks historically amongst bad players. It’s already been beaten into the ground. Really, it has. None of the content is particularly interesting anymore. And most importantly it doesn’t feel good reading it. In fact, so many reactions to Chris Davis makes it feel like he’s a bad person, or that he deserves this.
It’s also not as if he’s been able to just shrug off this scrutiny, either. This Sports Illustrated article by Stephanie Apstein goes into incredible detail about Davis’ 2018 season. He owns up to how bad he’s been. He’s lost. He feels guilty. Perhaps the quote that struck me most from the article:
“Failure follows me around daily”.
The irony of this all is that none of us will ever be as good at anything as Chris Davis is at baseball. Seriously. He’s in the midst of his twelfth major league season. He’s an All-Star. He’s led the league in home runs twice. He finished third for MVP in 2013. In the scope of the history of baseball, there are few players who have accomplished this. Chris Davis is once again an anomaly, but viewed in a different light.
Of course, much of this attention is being paid to Davis because of his current contract. In fact, it’s the only reason this is happening. Davis would surely not have a major league job without this contract, and it’s the reason the Orioles keep trotting him out. The contract was widely panned when it was signed, and rightfully so. However, with the Orioles from 2012-2016, Davis was still worth roughly $137.8 million and was paid $43,138,000. During that time, the Orioles made the the playoffs three times, including a division championship. He was a very important reason they were so successful.
Call him overpaid if you want. He is. He knows it, I know it, you know it. He’s not the only overpaid player in baseball. It’s not even the worst contract in baseball. But it’s not your money you’re paying him. So why do you care? He’s not a bad person because he’s overpaid. He was an integral part of a very good Orioles team after not being relevant for almost two decades. Ownership wanted to reward that, and they did receive a massive amount of value from Davis over that time. They were better than just relevant.
Again, I’m not defending this. This post is not about the overall value Chris Davis put up. I am so tired of this. I am aware the contract is bad and I personally would have never offered it. I don’t need it dissected to me by somebody on Twitter, or Reddit, or FanGraphs. I am purposely trying to use as few figures as possible in this article because Chris Davis is more than a statistical anomaly. He is a human being.
In fact, Chris Davis is a really good guy. He hasn’t been active on Twitter since 2017, but almost every post of his was related to different charities and events he was either a part of or could promote. The only other tweets lost in the mix from that year consisted of a post wishing a happy birthday to Brooks Robinson, and a Dave Chappelle video that he tagged Adam Jones in. Only two years ago, Chris Davis was beaming with positivity. But it’s damning that he hasn’t been on Twitter since then. Two years is a long time.
If you don’t care, and none of you do, about Chris Davis as the player, what’s wrong with cheering on Chris Davis as the person? I don’t think it’s a stretch to say he’s probably depressed. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say this also weighs on the people he means a lot to, like family, friends and teammates. Being booed by your own fans during the darkest time in your life is not something you can just shake off. It piles on.
He still has basically four full years left on this contract considering the season has just started.
Two years is a long time.
Four years is even longer.
The worst part of this situation is the disgusting treatment of him by the Orioles. It’s no secret the Orioles are trying to tank. It benefits them to play Chris Davis as he costs them wins. The contract is almost certainly insured. If Davis gets seriously injured in some capacity, the Orioles collect insurance money, recouping some of the value of the contract. With this all being said, there is a way Davis cannot receive the remaining $92 million of his contract. If he retires. And it’s hard to think that in some way, the Orioles are trying to get Davis to retire by publicly humiliating him and forcing his hand.
The other option is the Orioles and Chris Davis working out a buyout, which has been a popular suggestion. The issue is then what happens with the players’ union, and the difficult precedent this sets moving forward. Considering everything Davis has done for the city and the organization, releasing him and paying him the remainder of his contract seems to be the best solution for everyone involved. Chris Davis can remove himself from the spotlight and focus on his family and faith, collecting the money that is rightfully his. The Orioles can plug in a young player with upside that they can give at-bats to.
For many of us, our lives revolve around baseball. Baseball certainly holds a large place in mine. But we often forget that this is all these players ever know. It’s been their nucleus of accomplishment and happiness for as long as they remember. Losing your nucleus is devastating. Money isn’t everything to everyone, and when you’ve already made as much as Chris Davis has, $92 million isn’t going to move the quality of life needle very much. His family is set for generations and generations. He’ll be long gone before he sees how an extra $92 million will affect his great-great-great-great-great grandchildren.
He’s only thirty-three. He’s got a wonderful family and a full life ahead of him. Maybe he does retire and forfeits the money. So many people will call him stupid, say he never earned it in the first place, or question why he couldn’t just tough it out for four more years. Life is hard. Many of us have to make sacrifices to be happy. If this is the decision Chris Davis makes, we should all support him for choosing his own happiness.
At the time I’m finishing up this article, Chris Davis is still looking for his first hit in a long time. We should all want him to get a hit. But we don’t, and it’s embarrassing. It’s embarrassing as fans, and as people. For someone we have no personal connection with, I don’t understand the upside of cheering against him. We need more people like Chris Davis in the world. He’s done a lot to promote happiness and positivity throughout the years. You’ve probably enjoyed many of his home runs. For Orioles fans, he was a major part of a competitive team that was largely irrelevant for years. For charities all over the country, he’s been a major contributor. Most importantly, he’s a major part of his family’s nucleus, a family that deserves to see him happy.
We should all be Chris Davis fans. Most importantly, I hope Chris Davis is a Chris Davis fan.