I loathe to say these words but I promise you they are genuine. Chris Davis is right.
Ease off the pitchforks for a second. I’m not remotely suggesting I have turned into a Chris Davis sympathizer. But he’s right. On a Zoom call with reporters Dec. 9, Davis said, “I’m not going anywhere. I’m not giving up, not throwing in the towel. I understand the club is trying to cut payroll and I’m the one big lump they’re kind of stuck with. But they knew what they were signing up for when they took the job.”
You’re mad at Chris Davis because he’s a terrible, lousy, no good baseball player. You’re reflecting that anger toward his comments. But he’s right. No, the Orioles did not know when they paid him that Davis would become one of the worst players in the history of the sport for the life of the deal. But that’s not what Davis is saying. He’s saying that Mike Elias and Brandon Hyde knew his contract was in place when they came in to try to author a full rebuild. And what he probably wouldn’t say, but of course is absolutely true, is that they also knew his contract was a totally sunk cost that they had no hope of getting out from under.
That doesn’t absolve Chris Davis from his role in this. He’s an abomination of a baseball player. It seems unlikely that’s changing. The Orioles would almost certainly prefer for him to retire because his baseball abilities have become so obscene, and Orioles fans have no interest in seeing him continue to largely fail at even going through the motions. But he’s not going to do that.
“My desire to play has nothing to with the amount of money that I’m owed or the amount of money I’m going to make,” Davis also said during the call.
It’s possible there’s some truth to that. If Davis’ contract had already expired but there was another MLB team that was willing to give him a minor-league deal and a spring training invite next season, he might well take that offer in order to keep playing. He’s a professional baseball player. That’s the job he’s “qualified” for. In this country the only well-paying job we give to unqualified candidates is President and we already hired a new one of those.
But whether he’d play for nothing or not is far from the point. He’s going to collect another $34 million from the team during the next two years no matter how horrifyingly bad he is at his job. He’d be insane not to. We’d all race for an opportunity to do the same. When Dave Chappelle walked away from $50 million from Comedy Central a decade and a half ago, we literally accused him of having lost his mind. We suggested he might need help. Chris Davis might still play baseball if he was only getting paid by the hit. But he’s most certainly going to keep playing baseball when $34 million is at stake.
And for as angry as we continue to be at Chris Davis (rightfully so, again, his job performance is truly grotesque), the Orioles are not unworthy of our ire for their role in all of this. They knew things could go south when they paid Davis originally. Sure, they probably never imagined “south” might actually mean “Antarctica,” but still. There’s no guarantee fairy that comes with finally handing out a nine-figure contract. And even if there was, that guarantee fairy might turn out to be a crazy glue sniffer. I’ve seen it a hundred times.
While perhaps the decision isn’t left to the baseball folks alone, they too have the power to end this charade and are choosing not to. They have the same right, and the pain is not nearly as significant since the team isn’t trying to win anyway but they still have the choice. If you’re angry that Davis simply won’t retire, it seems reasonable to question why you’re not just as angry that the team won’t cut bait and stop forcing you to watch him offer about as much at the plate as Nate Robinson offered in a boxing ring.
And this isn’t even the worst answer Davis has given when he’s discussed the elephant in the room. It’s far better than his detestable attempt to make himself out as some sort of religious baseball martyr or whatever the hell he was trying to do with his SI feature a couple years back. That was purely outrageous. (He’s well within his right to try to be religious or to seek answers for his mental health struggles via his religion, however.)
The truth is that he’s right. He has every right to continue to attempt to be a professional baseball player for the next two seasons as long as the Orioles allow him to do so. He’d be crazy not to. Let’s just admit that what we’re angry about is that he’s a terrible baseball player and that it largely doesn’t matter what he says.
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox