For fans embracing Orioles' playoff fever, Davis suspension is 'letdown'

  • Orioles fans, from left, Andy Barton, Sean Wey and Pat Powderly, hang out at the bar over the batter's eye at Oriole Park at Camden Yards during the first game of a double-header against the Yankees.
Orioles fans, from left, Andy Barton, Sean Wey and Pat Powderly,… (Photo by Pamela Wood )
September 12, 2014|By Pamela Wood | The Baltimore Sun

Friday presented perfect weather for a doubleheader between the Orioles and rival New York Yankees, and a chance for the Orioles to build on their lead in the bid for a division crown.

Yet as fans filed into a sun-filled Oriole Park at Camden Yards at noontime, a cloud also rolled in with word of infielder Chris Davis' 25-game suspension by Major League Baseball. He tested positive for a banned amphetamine.

"I'm so disappointed," said Gary Martin, a 55-year-old from Annapolis who came to the early game of the doubleheader with his wife, Trisha. "Obviously he's had a tough year, and maybe he was looking for an edge."

Wearing a No. 19 Davis T-shirt, Denis Grabowski was parking his car when he received a text alert about the suspension.

Grabowski, 46, moved from Maryland to Atlanta 15 years ago but remains a loyal Orioles and Ravens fan. The Davis revelation — on top of this week's release of Ravens running back Ray Rice in light of video that showed him punching his then-fiancee — marred the trip he made to Baltimore for his own doubleheader.

He attended Thursday night's Ravens game against the Pittsburgh Steelers and the first Orioles-Yankees game Friday. "It was a little bit of a letdown," Grabowski said.

Davis will miss the team's final regular-season games and, if the team progresses in the playoffs, he would miss eight postseason games. Davis says he made a mistake. He had received a league exemption allowing therapeutic use of the drug in the past, but did not have an exemption this season.

While disappointed at losing a popular Oriole with a knack for hitting bomb-like home runs, some fans were sympathetic.

Raymond Brodsky, a 21-year-old from Ellicott City, pointed out that the baseball season is long and grueling — 162 games with rare days off. It's understandable, he said, that Davis would turn to Adderall, perhaps to keep focused. The drug is often used by people who have attention-deficit disorder to help increase concentration.

Brodsky attended Friday's first game with his father, Mark Brodsky, 61, who appreciated that Davis apologized. "I think Davis feels bad about letting the fans down," Mark Brodsky said.

For many, the loss of Davis can't dampen enthusiasm for a team that's heading toward the postseason, a still-novel development in Baltimore after many seasons of losing baseball.

"I'm optimistic we're going to rally around our guys," said Eric Debelius, a 24-year-old fan from Jarrettsville who hung out at Sliders bar before the game.

"We'll rise above it," said David Miller, a 25-year-old fan from Richmond, Va. "We'll be fine."

Davis' less-than-spectacular statistics on offense this year — including a paltry .196 batting average — left some fans believing Orioles manager Buck Showalter won't have much trouble filling the void left by Davis.

"It doesn't bum me out, because I have faith in Buck," said Martin.

Bill Stephens, a retiree who came from Niagara Falls, N.Y., to take in two of the weekend games against the Yankees, said this Orioles squad has a knack for winning despite losing player after player — catcher Matt Wieters and third baseman Manny Machado were lost for the season because of injuries, and shortstop J.J. Hardy missed time with a back injury before returning to the lineup Friday.

"Buck's been doing a good job so far filling the holes," Stephens said.

Baltimore Sun reporter Dan Connolly contributed to this article.

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