For at least one day in this 2019 season, the Orioles have managed to have the most talked-about narrative around the team be something other than their historic pace of giving up home runs. Unfortunately for Orioles fans, that bigger story that’s pushed the other one to the side involved the team’s highest paid player, Chris Davis, and manager Brandon Hyde having a brief shouting match in the dugout during Wednesday’s loss.
I’ve watched a lot of bad Orioles games going back into the previous dark era of O’s baseball. A player having to be restrained from going after the manager is not one you see very often, not even in the middle of some extremely crummy losses. It was almost like the consolation prize we could tell ourselves, before last night, “Sure, this team sucks, but at least they’re not the team that fights in the dugout.” Except now they are.
Here's what the MASN cameras caught of the Chris Davis-Brandon Hyde interaction:— Zachary Silver (@zachsilver) August 8, 2019
Appears Hyde said something Davis didn't appreciate, then Davis had to be held back by hitting coach Don Long and Mark Trumbo. pic.twitter.com/4GTaePor2Y
The thing that stands out to me about whatever this was is that it was spun up enough that everybody in the dugout was looking to see what was going on before the MASN cameras caught on.
In post-game remarks, Hyde did not elaborate on what had happened to start the fireworks, telling reporters, “We’re going to keep this in-house.” He did say that he pulled Davis from the game as the result of this display, and stressed that he was really just embarrassed that this was caught on camera. Davis was gone before reporters were in the clubhouse, so his perspective isn’t part of the narrative.
On the MASN post-game show last night, Birdland fixture and 1983 World Series MVP Rick Dempsey was more somber about the poor offensive approach of the team in last night’s 14-2 loss than he was about the dugout dustup. He said that if there had been more cameras in his day, even on the winning teams, there would have been a lot more stories of this nature.
Injured teammate Mark Trumbo, who was in the right place at the right time to get in between Davis and Hyde, offered his own on-camera response to the incident: “Those things happen. Hopefully they don’t happen in front of everybody.” He added as a bit of an explanation for what happened, “Tensions run high in the big leagues.”
Between the baseball lifer manager, the current veteran Oriole, and the “back in my day” analyst, the message was the same: This was not a big deal and not even necessarily that unusual. It’s one of those reminders for all of us that being in the insular environment of an MLB team is something weird that we’ll never fully understand for ourselves.
MASN’s Roch Kubatko reported on Thursday that there is no punishment expected over the dustup. As for what was the spark that started the shouting:
A batting helmet hit a foot, from what I can glean. And obviously that led to the exchange of words. And that isn't the first time this has happened in baseball history. But the cameras caught it. https://t.co/pPdbhmT08d— Roch Kubatko (@masnRoch) August 8, 2019
Combine the two tweets to remove both the vague noun of the first tweet and the passive voice of the second: Davis was frustrated and threw his batting helmet. Kubatko believes the batting helmet hit Hyde in the foot, which prompted Hyde to say something and that turned into what was shown on the MASN cameras.
I’ll admit to having given in somewhat to the temptation to believe that this surely must have been the result of Hyde finally seeing enough of Davis after Davis loafed a bit towards a catchable foul pop-up earlier in the game. If a $161 million man is going to be batting .182/.269/.320, he could at least chase a foul ball all the way to the camera well, right?
A thrown helmet is a banal explanation compared to that, so much so that it’s almost tough to believe that could really be it. Sometimes the banal rather than the fantastic is the reality, though.
There remains the mystery of what was said by Hyde to prompt an apparently hostile response from Davis. Routine exchanges of pleasantries aren’t exactly what prompts third parties to decide to physically intervene to keep two people apart.
It might be for the best to never have any of that be public knowledge. If things are really buried for now, then the only way that would come up and be relevant again is if there is another incident of some kind down the road that makes the first one a concern again.
Certainly, this tantalizing possibility of further drama spilling out at any moment might offer some folks reason to keep the TV tuned in to the O’s game even in the middle of the next blowout loss where they’re giving up four more home runs. But I’d be happy if giving up the home runs is the only reason that the wider world of sports media has to talk about the 2019 Orioles from now until the end of the season.