Put it in the books.
In the top of the 1st inning of today’s ongoing game with the Boston Red Sox – approximately 6.23pm here in the UK – Chris Davis broke his historic skid of 54 at bats without a hit.
The record breaking streak has been the talk of the early going of the 2019 MLB season. Amidst the purple patch of Davis near namesake – Oakland’s Khris Davis, the wiles of the ailing Yankees, and the historic early pace for home runs, that one stat stood out – 0 for 54.
It was even starker relief against that home run spike considering Davis own recent reputation as one of the game’s greatest exponents of the long ball. Unlike the man from whom he wrested the unwanted crown, Eugenio Velez, Davis has not – at least until recent memory – been a replacement level hitter. And yet here he was, sinking even further from the unfathomable lows of a 2018 season in which he logged a meagre .146 batting average; itself a Major League worst.
Amidst that tortuous run in the middle of 2018 we interviewed former MLB slugger Carlos Pena for an episode of Bat Flips & Nerds. He saw – and identified with – a player in Davis who had forgotten the fundamentals that made him such a brilliant hitter throughout his career. The balance, the bat speed and the simplicity – all were gone. In 2019 so, seemingly, had his will power and self confidence.
For a while Davis’ plight was the source of a great deal of amusement. A hitherto brilliant athlete, banking a cool $162m over the life of his existing contract, utterly diminished. Jokes on him, right?
But the joke wore thin of late. As Red Sox broadcaster Jerry Remy pointed out as he stepped to this dish this afternoon – offers of free food, drinks and laughs from the bars of Baltimore as Davis stroked that first hit are all well and good, and arguably offered from a point of affection for a genuine local hero – but what about Davis in all this? How does he feel?
There he stood. Stoic. With a wad packed tight in his lip. No doubt inwardly quivering.
And then seconds later it was through.
A stroked single into right-centre field; plating a pair of RBI no less.
What about him, indeed?
He was standing on first base, eyes twinkling and demanding that ball be kept. Taking the applause of his teammates, a cadre of honest cornermen.
And providing another timely reminder of the wonder of baseball.
Even at its worst. At your worst, and your lowest. When you become desensitized, and bow to the grind…
It has a moment for you.