Chris Davis

Oriole Chris Davis makes $3 million gift to help at-risk children, for some vague reason

Oriole Chris Davis makes $3 million gift to help at-risk children, for some vague reason

Consider this a rare GetReligion hot-stove season baseball report. The shocker is that it is not written by our resident baseball fanatic, Bobby Ross, Jr. I guess that’s because this story concerns a member of the Baltimore Orioles, a team currently in a radical-rebuild mode (that could use a miracle or two).

This is another Baltimore Sun story about the troubled slugger Chris Davis, whose struggles at the plate have made many national headlines. It doesn’t help that Davis is (a) aging, (b) holding a first-base slot that blocks younger players and (c) a few years into a massive seven-year, $161 million contract.

I have written about Davis before. At some point in time, some powerful judge in media land appears to have made a ruling that it is out of bounds to include references to his evangelical faith in stories about his life, values, family and career.

Davis recently made big news with his pen and a checkbook and, I would argue, journalists needed to ask some faith questions in this case. But first, let’s look at a hint of faith language in a different Sun story that ran the other day: “I have hope now’: Orioles’ Chris Davis carrying confidence early in offseason.” The key is that Davis is feeling better — physically and mentally — and already getting ready for 2020.

Jill Davis noted that her husband normally takes October off, but she said Davis has been ramping up his activities to the point it won’t be long before he spends his days working out, running and hitting, all while balancing the scheduling quirks their three daughters bring. The Davises have a family trip planned for early December, plus a mission trip in January.

OK, I’ll ask. What kind of “mission trip”? A generic one?

This leads me to some big news in Baltimore, $3 million worth of news that’s totally consistent with the life that the Davis family lives: “Orioles’ Chris Davis and his wife, Jill, make record donation to University of Maryland Children’s Hospital.” Here is the overture:

Chris and Jill Davis made their way from room to room at the University of Maryland Medical Center’s pediatric intensive care unit. A visit in July inspired how the Orioles’ first baseman and his wife spent their Monday morning. This trip in the afternoon was made by choice.

They stopped by rooms of little girls who, like their three daughters, love princesses. They met two boys who, like their two youngest children, were twins. They brightened the days of families who had children, like their own once had, facing congenital heart defects.

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How do sports scribes go 'inside' the epic Chris Davis slump without asking about his faith?

How do sports scribes go 'inside' the epic Chris Davis slump without asking about his faith?

Sometimes, I wish that baseball meant less to me than it does. Can I get an “amen,” Bobby Ross, Jr.?

When judging levels of sports loyalty, it is absolutely crucial to take into account whether fans stick with their favorite teams during bad times, as well as good. In a way, it’s like going to church. True believers are in their pews or stadium seats during the bad times, as well as the good times.

So I am going to write about Chris Davis of my Baltimore Orioles — again — even though many GetReligion readers could care less about this slugger and his historic slump at the plate. I am going to write about this story — again — because there is an important journalism point to be made.

Here it is: When writing about public figures who are religious believers, you cannot write about what is happening in their hearts and heads (and, yes, their souls) without asking questions about religion.

Consider this ESPN headline atop a story that ran when Davis broke his MLB-record slump at the plate: “How Chris Davis snapped, embraced baseball's most epic oh-fer.”

The key word is “embraced,” which implies that he managed to come to terms with the slump and faced the reality of it. In other words, there is more to this story than taking extra batting practice. Something had to be done at the level of head and heart.

Another ESPN headline, on a different feature, captured the agony of all of this: “ 'I hear the people every night': Inside Chris Davis' 0-for-54 streak.” The key word here is “inside,” as in “inside” the head and heart of the man who is enduring this agony.

So did ESPN pros factor in this outspoken Christian believer’s faith? Did they talk to his pastor? The team chaplain? Did they take faith seriously, as a factor in this man and his struggles?

Wait for it.

Here’s the overture in that first ESPN story that I mentioned, the one with “embraced” in the headline:

BOSTON -- When the longest hitless streak in major league history ended and when the Baltimore Orioles wrapped up their sixth victory of the season with a 9-5 victory over the Boston Red Sox, Chris Davis channeled his inner Rocky Balboa and walked into the visitors clubhouse with his fists above his head, a smile streaking across his face. His teammates prepared a hero's welcome too, banging the walls of their lockers, turning the scene into an impromptu "STOMP" performance. Davis looked around at the joy emanating from his teammates and felt a weight lift off his shoulders.

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Old question from world of sports: Why avoid role of faith in lives of many great athletes?

Old question from world of sports: Why avoid role of faith in lives of many great athletes?

There is nothing new (or newsworthy) about athletes, in post-game interviews, saying things like this: “Most of all, I would like to thank God for the many blessings he has given me.”

Or even this: “First, I’d like to give praise to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Many superstars say this after victories. Many say things like this after defeat. The question “Crossroads” host Todd Wilken asked, at the start of this week’s podcast (click here to tune that in), was this: Do mainstream news reporters, when then here this, roll their eyes with skepticism?

The answer, I think, is, “Yes, they do.” And for others, the response is stronger than that: It’s either cynicism or sarcasm verging on hostility.

Why? Well, in many cases these sports reporters know that some of the athletes saying this are absolute jerks or hypocrites of the highest orders. Reporters know that some — no, not all — of these Godtalk superstars are not walking their talk.

So this acidic attitude tends to seep into lots of mainstream stories about the many, many, many religious believers who are newsmakers in college and professional sports.

But words are one thing. Actions are another.

Like what? Well, as is often the case, things get really messy when superstars are living lives that are genuinely countercultural when it comes to — you got it — sex.

Can you say “Tim Tebow”? I knew that you could.

When I was young, one of my heroes was at the center of similar controversies. That was Roger “Captain America” Staubach, a happily married, family-guy Roman Catholic.

Several years ago, M.Z. “GetReligion emerita” Hemingway wrote up a very similar case surrounding NFL star Philip Rivers. Her headline at The Federalist included a wonderful new culture wars term: “Fecundophobia: The Growing Fear Of Children And Fertile Women.

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SI glimpses a faith angle: The doubts, tears, anger and agony of slugger in an epic slump

SI glimpses a faith angle: The doubts, tears, anger and agony of slugger in an epic slump

If you’re a baseball fan, this is an amazing and historic day, with two extra games jammed into the National League schedule just to find out who plays where in the early stages of the playoffs.

Lots of people will be missing work today in Los Angeles, Denver, Milwaukee and Chicago. But the baseball fans here at GetReligion will have little to do with all of this, since Bobby Ross, Jr., is a Texas Rangers fan and my loyalties remain in Baltimore.

However, the sad, sad story of the Orioles and their journey into the shadow land called “rebuilding” did inspire a striking story the other day in Sports Illustrated, focusing on the epic disaster that the 2018 season was for slugger Chris “Crush” Davis. The headline: “Crushed Davis: Nobody Is Struggling With the Modern Game More Than Chris Davis.”

This is a story with two levels — sports and a man’s crushed spirit.

The baseball part is pretty easy to describe: No one has been affected more than Davis by the strategy called “the shift” (infielders move into shallow right field to frustrate left-handed batters). Davis has, like many who bat on the left side of the plate, spent his career molding a swing designed to produce hard contact pulling the ball. The shift has stolen a stunning number of his hits and RBIs.

Why not just change your swing to push the ball to left field or bloop it over the “shift” defenders?

This is where the baseball theme in this story morphs into matters of the mind, heart and soul. Trying to tinker with a player’s grooved swing messes with his mind. Here is the overture:

Baseball’s shortest walk feels like its longest. As Chris Davis trudges the 70 feet from home plate to the dugout, he has plenty of time to consider the people he has just let down. There are his fellow Orioles, of course, who will greet him with pats on the backside that feel more like condolences than encouragement. The coaches who sat on buckets to flip him thousands of balls over the years. His father, who coached him harder than anyone else. The organization that writes his paychecks and strings his likeness up on lampposts and sells dolls featuring grotesquely oversized representations of his head. His wife, who gave up her dream job without complaint when he got traded. His three kids, who seem to have grown two inches every time he returns from a 10-game road trip.

Davis, who has struck out 178 times through Sept. 13, knows baseball's walk of shame better than just about everyone else in the majors.

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Strikeout! Faith angle missing in story on suspended Orioles slugger Chris Davis' 'hope for redemption'

Strikeout! Faith angle missing in story on suspended Orioles slugger Chris Davis' 'hope for redemption'
The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball.
America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time.
This field, this game, it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and that could be again.
Ohhhhh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.
— James Earl Jones (“Field of Dreams,” 1989)

Baseball is back!

Last night, my beloved Texas Rangers said "Hello, win column!" for the first time in 2015. Meanwhile, tmatt's Baltimore Orioles improved to 2-0 in the young season.

Speaking of the Orioles, slugger Chris Davis (a former Ranger) is about to return after a suspension that shocked fans, his teammates and the entire baseball world.

The Baltimore Sun opens its in-depth story on Davis' comeback this way:

The Orioles slugger had been holed up in his home for the better part of two days after news broke Sept. 12 that his season was over. Chris Davis had taken the attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder drug Adderall without a therapeutic-use exemption.
Davis' wife, Jill, needed something from Target that Saturday evening, and Davis volunteered to go, just to get out of the house. But he wasn't prepared for the drive through downtown Baltimore, where an Orioles game recently had ended. The air was cool and crisp, and as Davis looked around, he yearned for postseason baseball.
"I felt like everybody that was at the game was out walking on the streets. They were wearing all kinds of Orioles jerseys, Orioles shirts. People were flying Orioles flags out of their apartments. Dogs were wearing Orioles [gear]. You could really tell how excited the city was about us," Davis said. "That's kind of when it all hit me. I told Jill after that Saturday night, after I came back home, I thought: 'I don't know if I'm ever going to get over this.'"
Why?
In late March, Davis sat down with The Baltimore Sun for a candid, hourlong interview about his mindset and hope for redemption. There were some new revelations, or at least clarifications, regarding his 25-game suspension, which doesn't expire until he sits out one more regular-season game.

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Got news? Looking at key facts in the Chris Davis timeline

It’s the last day of the regular baseball season and for fans of the Baltimore Orioles there was a very bittersweet taste to the year. What does that have to do with religion-news coverage? While many will argue that baseball is a religion (click here for a classic), trust me that I will get to the real religion hook in this post soon enough.

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About those steroid whispers and slugger Chris Davis

If you have been following major-league baseball this year, then you probably know a little bit about Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis, the guy with 37 home runs at the All-Star Game break. If you wish, you can check him out tonight in the All-Star Home Run Derby (while pondering the question of whether Texas Ranger fanatic Bobby Ross Jr., will cheer for Davis or against him).

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Crush Davis wrestles with anger issues, with God's help

I realize that GetReligion readers have repeatedly demonstrated their lack of interest in the world of sports or, at the very least, media coverage of stories that mix faith and sports. I remain a pretty intense sports fan, based in Baltimore.

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