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Friday Bird Droppings: Where the Chris Davis saga is over

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The Orioles’ much-maligned first baseman officially called it a career yesterday. We’ll choose to remember the good times.

Toronto Blue Jays v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

In case you haven’t heard the news, Chris Davis’s time with the Orioles — and in major league baseball — is officially over. The former Birds slugger announced his retirement yesterday, citing the hip injury that had sidelined him for all of 2021 to this point.

Davis finishes his career with 1,417 games played, the majority of them coming with the Orioles after they acquired him from Texas in 2011. Of his 295 career home runs, he hit 253 with the Birds, ranking sixth in club history. His 656 RBIs with the Orioles rank 11th, two shy of Nick Markakis. He amassed a .230/.318/.459 batting line in parts of 10 seasons in Baltimore.

But as we all know, that doesn’t tell the whole story of the Chris Davis saga.

There’s no getting past the fact that as brilliant as the first half of his Orioles career was — the tape-measure home runs, the ascension into slugging superstardom, the All-Star and MVP-caliber seasons — the last four or five years have seen Davis reduced to a national punchline and a target of ire from Orioles fans, as he shattered MLB records with his offensive futility after signing a $171 million extension. (He’ll still be collecting that money despite his retirement, though his $23 million sum for next season will be deferred.)

It’s understandable that many O’s fans are feeling resentful of Davis, who ceased to be a capable major league player within two years of the ink drying on his massive new contract. His refusal or inability (at least from an outside perspective) to change his plate approach or make adjustments, even as his struggles became more pronounced every year, only added to the furor. Many are simply glad the Orioles are done with him forever.

But call me a softie. I’m going to choose to remember the productive, fan-favorite Chris Davis from those glorious, early years. The guy who slugged almost 200 home runs in a five-year span, twice leading the majors. The guy who carried Nate McLouth over his shoulders after a walkoff hit during that wonderful 2012 season. The guy who pitched two scoreless innings to win an unforgettable contest at Fenway Park, striking out Adrian Gonzalez to launch a thousand GIFs. And the guy who was generous with his time and money in the Baltimore community, including his $3 million donation to the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital in 2019.

Chris Davis’s career may have ended on sour, awkward terms. And he may be the frontrunner for the worst contract in sports history ever given to a player. But there were some good times, weren’t there?

Links

John Means gets blasted, Orioles hitters go 0-9 with RISP in 6-4 loss to Tigers - Camden Chat
Oh by the way, the Orioles also played yesterday. I'll give you three guesses how they did. For all the details, check out Mark Brown's recap.

John Means struggles in loss to Tigers - Orioles.com
A few Orioles offer their thoughts on the club's latest slide, with Trey Mancini saying, “We need to forget these past two weeks." Just two weeks?

Connolly: Sorting out the complicated Orioles legacy of Chris ‘Crush’ Davis – The Athletic
Dan Connolly gives his perspective on the roller-coaster career of Chris Davis in Baltimore. If Crush ever returns to Camden Yards someday as part of a reunion, it’d be fascinating to gauge the crowd reaction.

Orioles prospect Grayson Rodriguez believes he’s the best pitcher in the minors, too. Now he wants to prove it each outing. - The Baltimore Sun
You guys, I truly cannot wait until this guy is pitching in the bigs.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Five former Orioles were born on this day: right-hander Cory Doyne (40), outfielder Corey Patterson (42), lefty Will Ohman (44), “Why Not?” southpaw Jeff Ballard (58), and mid-80s reliever Tom Niedenfuer (62).

August 13 has been a big day in history for a bunch of Hall of Fame Orioles. Most notably, on this date in 1969, Jim Palmer twirled a no-hitter, one of just four individual no-nos in Orioles history. Palmer, who had missed the entire previous season with injuries, fanned eight Oakland Athletics in improving to 11-2 on the season. He did issue six walks — including walking the bases loaded in the ninth — but you can get away with that when, you know, you don’t allow any hits.

On this day in 1977, Brooks Robinson played the final game of his career — well, sort of. He was announced as a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the ninth, but when the Athletics changed pitchers, Brooks himself was pinch-hit for without ever getting an at-bat. It was the last time his name ever appeared in a box score, as he retired a week later.

Earl Weaver made some news on this date, too. In 1978, the Orioles led the Yankees 3-0 after six innings, only for the Yanks to score five runs in the top of the seventh. But as the skies opened up, Weaver made his best efforts to stall the action, and the grounds crew was slow getting the tarp on the field, forcing a postponement of the rest of the game. By rule at the time, the score reverted to the end of the last full inning, giving the Orioles a 3-0 win. MLB changed the rule the following year.