Baltimore Orioles: Chris Davis Radio Interview


Jun 17, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis (19) smiles in the dugout after he hit a grand slam during the third inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis has said next to nothing since his suspension for violating the substance abuse policy and missing the end of the 2014 baseball season and playoffs. But on Tuesday of this week he was interviewed on local Baltimore Christian radio station SHINE-FM, 95.1.

The radio station link gives three short clips under the title of “Chris Davis talks about God, Baltimore & Suspension.”

So today I thought I would comment a bit on his comments, doing so from what is probably a rather unique position among sportswriters. For the past 34 years, I have been a church pastor as well as a writer, coach, marathoner, and a host of other things. And in the world of faith traditions, Chris Davis is very close to my place if one were to chart it across of spectrum of belief systems … we would be what is often called “the Evangelical Christian faith.”

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And hey – sorry if this article is too religious or sanctimonious for your tastes. Check the listing here for the other Orioles articles from recent days if this weirds you out and you need to bail out on me. Beyond that, let me say that this is the 546th article I’ve written in the past year, and it is the first one with any theme of this sort.

The first of the three roughly one-minute sessions is that of most interest probably to an Orioles fan as it relates to the Adderall incident. Here is a transcript of that section …

"“I haven’t really talked a lot about it. I didn’t want to take the focus off what the team was doing, but eventually I knew that I was going to have to address it and I wanted to. I think the fans deserve an explanation. I think they want to know what happened.”“Basically, in a moment of weakness I made a decision that cost me greatly. And it just goes to show that no matter how successful you’ve been in the past, no matter how much stuff you have, no matter how strong you are in your faith, the devil is going to continue to come after you.”“Looking back on it, it was probably the best thing that could have happened at the time, but it was definitely one of the hardest things that I’ve ever had to go through. The first few days after the suspension came out, I was really down, I was really depressed because I felt I had let so many people down and had really just scarred my reputation to the point where everything that I had done wasn’t really going to count for anything, and God just kind of reached down and put his arm around me at that time and let me know it’s OK to stumble as long as you continue to get up and move forward and learn from your mistakes.”“I’m at a point right now where I don’t wish to ever go through that again, but I appreciate the process and where it has brought me spiritually.”"

  1. Understand that he is talking to a particular audience with an assumed understanding of certain beliefs and ways of talking about them. As with any group, club, organization … yes, faith … there is a sort of insider way of communicating that would seem strange to an outsiders. For example, imagine a person who knows next to nothing beyond the basics of baseball coming into this blog (on other days) and reading something like, “His slash line is not the best until you see his RISP splits that are unusually good for a guy with an OBP just north of .300.” As a baseball fan, you know what I just said; but if you were an outsider to the sport, it would sound very odd indeed.”
  2. Chris Davis is talking about the Christian life problem known as “sanctification.” In 1967, a famous self-help book was written called “I’m OK, You’re OK.” We don’t believe that. And honestly, we don’t believe what some critics of Evangelicalism say of us that our thinking is “I’m OK, You’re not OK.”  No, no … actually it is truthfully more like “I’m a mess, You’re a Mess.”

The understanding we have of the human condition is that it is not a good picture … that the human heart is flawed by sin that leads to selfishness. And though we see the solution as faith in the work of Christ who paid the penalty for sin and guarantees an eternal relationship with God, the perfect realization of that is not in this world. The goal is that word – sanctification – to become more like Christ in word and deed – but we never perfectly arrive on this side of eternity.

  1. Chris Davis is really not blaming the Devil, at least not entirely. In the Evangelical faith that takes the Bible as literally true, the Devil is seen as real … versus simply a personification of a principle of evil, or something like that. The teaching is that he is opposed to God and truth, and is active as the lead agent for evil in the world. Davis is not actually saying that Satan himself made him do what was done; we see ourselves as capable of fully falling into error without his help. But the Devil is the originator and ultimate guilty party behind all that is wrong.
  2. Gain comes through pain, the way to the top is through the bottom, and we are strongest in our weakness. Davis reflects personally on the process of this public failure and what it has taught him. Though he is embarrassed by his failure hurting others and scarring his reputation and example as a follower of Christ, he is speaking of the gain that comes through the humiliation of failure. It says in Scripture, “Let him who thinks he stands take heed, lest he fall.” In other words, when you’re all puffed up about how great you are, it is at that moment where you’re actually most vulnerable. Most of us only learn these sorts of lessons the hard way; most of us need to hit the bottom once in a while to realize our profound need of divine help. That is the point that he is essentially making.
  3. There is forgiveness and restoration. This is the principle of life eternal, paid for in a once-for-all way by Christ. It does not excuse or condone wrongdoing, but recognizing the inevitably of such in an imperfect world of imperfect people, there is forgiveness from God and restoration to those who are honest and repentant about their shortcomings. That’s a pretty cool truth and aspect of the faith that serves one well in a world that only values you for your most recent success – either on the field of play or in the world of business and sales.

I understand that some of you (maybe even most of you) who have read this far will find much of this to be hogwash, or the superstitions of an ancient faith that is not relevant to a rationalistic and scientific age. I’m just explaining what some of the jargon means. I’ll add that I believe there is timeless truth within it that is worthy of a reasonable faith and trust. Just sayin.’

Davis goes on in the other two segments to talk about his encounter with faith at an early age, but that it was not until age 24 that he made it a defining characteristic of his life. So that is not so long ago, as Crush is only now age 28. He is not that far down the road on this faith journey.

The final segment from the show talks about his particular interest, involvement and support for an inner-city ministry called “Helping Up Mission,” located about a mile to the northeast of Camden Yards. This is an organization and facility with a $6.2 million budget that provides housing and meals for the homeless, along with support and counselling especially to those struggling with addictions to drugs and alcohol. On their web page, Brian Roberts is at one point listed and pictured also as an endorsing personage.

So Davis has much to prove in the coming year, both on the field and off. And even as we follow and admire the special talents of athletes and the corresponding platform in life it gives them, the honest truth is that, as humans, they are no more special than the rest of us. We’re all a mess in it together, and life really is bigger than the games on the field.