Timing of Chris Davis' suspension is a blow for the Orioles and fans

News comes as team is surging toward postseason and on heels of messy Ray Rice saga

September 12, 2014|By Peter Schmuck | The Baltimore Sun

The way things have gone this week in Baltimore, it would not be a tremendous surprise if news broke tomorrow that Francis Scott Key plagiarized "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Four days after the shocking Ray Rice elevator video placed Charm City in a very uncharming light, Major League Baseball announced on Friday that Orioles corner infielder Chris Davis has been suspended for 25 games after testing positive for an amphetamine.

The suspension is a major blow to the Orioles, who are heading toward the postseason already without star players Manny Machado and Matt Wieters, and a second national embarrassment for a city that remains at the center of the NFL’s domestic abuse scandal.

What an amazing reversal of fortune for a city that – until a week ago – was bubbling with excitement over both the Ravens and the playoff-bound Orioles.

Instead, a national television audience watched Fox Sports poke fun at Baltimore on Thursday night by interviewing Ravens fans who showed up at M&T Bank Stadium for the Ravens-Steelers showdown wearing Ray Rice jerseys.

Now, on a weekend when the Orioles finally were going to revel in their dominance of the New York Yankees this season, they are again explaining their role in baseball’s on-going battle against illicit or unauthorized chemicals.

There is no comparison between the Ray Rice domestic assault and Davis’s poor judgment, but that doesn’t mean that Davis’ violation of baseball’s policy against stimulants should viewed through that prism. The fact that it’s a 25-game suspension means that it is the second time he has tested positive for the same class of substance (the attention deficit disorder drug Adderall) and those poor decisions conceivably could make the difference between the Orioles going to the World Series or coming up well short of that in October.

It probably won’t affect their ability to reach the postseason. Their magic number of wins and losses by their closest divisional rival was eight going into Friday’s doubleheader against the Yankees, which means it is theorectically possible they could be overtaken, but the chances of that are infinitessimal.

The only similarity to the Rice situation is the fact that Davis, like Rice, has been a tremendously popular player in Baltimore who has built significant personal capital in the community. He likely will come back from this and have plenty of time to repair the damage this situation will do to his public image. Rice, obviously, faces a much tougher challenge in that regard.

Of course, this isn’t the first time the Orioles organization has been sullied by a positive drug test. All-Star first baseman Rafael Palmeiro was the first big-name player to test positive for steroids after Major League Baseball and the players union initiated their anti-PED program and Orioles were all over the Mitchell Report.

Davis’ dumb choices don't rise to that level, but it’s fair to say the timing of this week’s latest bombshell revelation could not have been much worse.

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