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Orioles Likely Stuck With Chris Davis For Some Time

After the season the Orioles have had and the week they endured last week, Sunday afternoon’s home plate celebration following Rio Ruiz’s ninth inning home run to beat Houston must have been as cathartic as it was joyful.

Goodness knows the Birds needed something to rejoice in after getting pounded for three games by the Yankees and narrowly dropping a 23-2 decision to the Astros Saturday night in a game where Carlos Correia hit the longest measured home run in Camden Yards history.

The sad part of it all is that between the Yankee drubbing, another Oriole Park takeover by New York fans and the Saturday pasting by Houston, none of those was the low point of the week.

Nope, that was the dugout dustup between Orioles manager Brandon Hyde and first baseman Chris Davis, all captured by cameras and telecasted for all to see.

After a day off, used presumably to cool off, the two men emerged with matching stories, that Davis was frustrated with his recent performance, especially on defense, and expressed that irritation at the worst time and in the worst way.

And that was that. Life in the clubhouse went on as it has with Davis eventually getting back into the lineup with a batting average below .200to the consternation of many.

There is no shortage of Orioles fans who would have liked nothing better than to hear that Davis had been cut loose from the roster, not just for this specific transgression, but as the culmination of more than two seasons of paltry hitting, including the 0-for-33 performance to start 2019.

Davis’ seven-year $161 million contract has become the virtual “kick me” sign on his back for Birds’ backers, who see the massive payout as an albatross around the neck of the franchise.

It’s actually the thing that will keep him in Baltimore for the foreseeable future, whether fans like it or not.

There’s no question that the Davis deal, in its fourth year, is a horrible, terrible mistake foisted on the team by principal owner Peter Angelos, perhaps to show fans that the club, known for its frugality, could shell out big bucks.

If this were New York, where the Steinbrenner family can print money, Davis would have been kicked to the curb at least a year ago.

The Yankees’ wealth and success in player development give the club’s management the freedom to erase mistakes at the drop of a hat.

Last week proved that the Orioles aren’t the Yankees on the field and they’re certainly not them in the front office.

Though Peter Angelos is not running the team on a day-to-day basis, his sons, John and Louis, are. Davis’ money is guaranteed, and they are not about to let him walk, not while they owe him nearly $60 million, even if much of it is deferred money.

And while Hyde and new general manager Mike Elias would love to jettison Davis to open the way for young players to learn, they’re not going to buck their bosses.

So Orioles fans had better savor the nuggets of joy that come between now and the end of September. There aren’t likely to be many more.  

And that’s how I see it for this week. 

Milton Kent hosted the weekly commentary Sports at Large from its creation in 2002 to its finale in July 2013. He has written about sports locally and nationally since 1988, covering the Baltimore Orioles, University of Maryland men's basketball, women's basketball and football, the Washington Wizards, the NBA, men's and women's college basketball and sports media for the Baltimore Sun and AOL Fanhouse. He has covered the World Series, the American and National League Championship Series, the NFL playoffs, the NBA Finals and 17 NCAA men's and women's Final Fours. He currently teaches journalism at Morgan State University.