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Henry: Longview's Davis breaking through

By Hayden Henry
July 18, 2013 at 11 p.m.

In 96 games, Chris Davis has done what only two others in baseball have done.

<em><strong>EDITOR'S NOTE:</strong> See Sunday's News-Journal for Hayden Henry's sit-down with Baltimore Oriole and former Longview Lobo standout Chris Davis.</em>

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In 96 games, Chris Davis has done what only two others in baseball have done.

His 37 home runs, 93 RBIs and a .315 batting average in the first 96 games of a season was last accomplished in 1932 by Jimmie Fox. Who rounds out the trio? Babe Ruth reached the mind-boggling numbers in 1928.

If Davis doesn't belt another home run the rest of the season, the Longview native has already accomplished a remarkable feat.

As far as finishing 2013 with those 37 home runs? I'd bet it's safe to say that's not going to happen.

But Davis' rise to the baseball elite, two years removed from being traded from a Rangers team that believed Davis wouldn't develop into an everyday player, has drawn some questions and attention alike.

Although we have another half of the season remaining, the pace that Davis is riding would prompt anyone to bring up the single-season home run record of 73.

Davis recently told ESPN's Mike and Mike that he believes the true home run record is 61, held by Roger Maris – "the last guy to do it clean."

While the comment drew ire from media members and players, Davis has a point. After it was revealed that Barry Bonds was linked to PEDs in his then-majestic season, the record became, unfortunately, as muddied as most of the recent baseball news, with the steroid cloud looming large over America's pastime.

While Davis has clearly figured some things out in the batter's box, his quick and, to some, out of nowhere rise to the national stage, the PED finger has been pointed at the 6-3, 230-pounder. Davis, by the way, graduated from high school at 6-3, 225.

In a move that garnered more national attention, Davis took to social media to confront a simple, straightforward question: "Are you on steroids?" Davis responded quickly and to the point as well with a "No."

It's just the sad state of a game trying to mend its image that a player like Davis, who has risen from the depths to the upper echelons of the leaderboards so quickly, that steroids is the first conclusion that people jump to when this kind of success is achieved. Obviously, at one point in his past, David garnered the attention of scouts enough for him to become a professional baseball player.

Despite the practice, the training and the mental focus, it's the general perspective of the sports world that baseball success is tied with steroids. It's a baseball culture cultivated by the game itself. The 27-year-old recognizes its part of today's game, telling Mike and Mike "I actually think in a way it's kind of a backhanded compliment."

Backhanded clearly being the key word.

Ultimately, Davis is being accused of cheating, but the resurgence in power and production like he has churned out will garner the attention, both positive and negative.

It's not all negative for Davis, who spent the past week rubbing elbows with the best in the game in his first trip to the All-Star Game and Home Run Derby.

While he has already cruised by his 2012 numbers, the spotlight will certainly be on Davis as the second half of the season kicks off tonight. If 2013 continues the way it started, the Crush faithful have an exciting September ahead of them as Davis is currently on pace for 60-plus home runs.

As the record is written in the books, 73 is the number to beat - PEDs or not.

While Davis has clearly broken free of the cloud that lingered over his first couple of years in the big leagues, the steroid and speculation talk is something that will loom heavy over the entire game for years to come.

But anyone who has seen Davis swing a bat knows he has the power to break through.

<em>(Email: hhenry@news-journal.com; Follow Hayden Henry on Twitter: @hayden_h).</em>



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