Baltimore Orioles: Generational gap for guys like Chris Davis?
Chris Davis, formerly of the Baltimore Orioles, is in the age group known as the “Millenial Generation.” You know who they are; we hear about them, and how important they are to our world, on a daily basis. Now admittedly, as a “late age Gen Xer,” that might have been a bit of a dig at the millenials. But I have my reasons.
The Harvard Center uses birth years from 1965-1984 to define “Generation X.” So I fall into that group as I was born in January of 1981. Based on that model, if you’re born in 1984 or after, you’re considered a millenial. Full disclosure, I have a sister that was born in ’86; and I see vast differences in how she thinks and behaves, as compared with myself. This doesn’t make her right and me wrong (or vice-versa), I just see things from a different perspective than she does.
One of the marks of the millenials is that they’re supposed to be much more forward-thinking than previous generations. In saying that, I mean that they aren’t as likely to let the chains of what one might have previously called “societal norms” bind them. And you can fill in the blanks as to what I mean by that – it ranges from social issues, to geo-political issues, and yes even sports.
I used Chris Davis above as an example simply because as a 1986 birth (same year as my sister), he’s technically a millenial. However he also comes off as a fairly old fashioned type of guy based on how he carries himself and the respect he seems to have for people around him. This is not to say that millenials on the whole are disrespectful or rude – that’s not my implication in the least.
However keep in mind what I said above; they aren’t as likely to conform to what folks a little older than them see as normal. In dealing with people sometimes only six or seven years younger than I, there’s a certain brashness or arrogance that I never recalled seeing in myself or my peers. In the eyes of their fellow millenials, this is normal and thus not rude by any means. They’re only being up front about the fact that they believe in themselves.
And yes, this could be due in part to the whole thing about participation trophies. I’ve always said that giving out trophies for showing up gives one an inflated ego, and eventually they’ll start to expect things to be handed to them. So as a result of the Baby Boomers and Gen Xers giving these kids overinflated views of themselves, can we really blame them for their brashness?
Oct 1, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles mascot “Oriole Bird” sheers in the stands against the Toronto Blue Jays in the fourth inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Orioles won 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
But I digress. How does this apply to the Orioles or sports in general? We don’t seem to see this a lot with the O’s, but in the last few years how often have we sat here and talked about unwritten codes? Baseball traditionalists such as myself will harp on that until we’re blue in the face. I firmly believe in having respect for the game and for the opponent. And that’s a pretty old school idea.
But again, the millenial generation isn’t as likely to embrace the views of the past. They don’t just accept this is how it’s always been. Now on the flip side, you might ask why it’s such a bad thing to question certain things – and you’re right. Just because something’s always been one way, doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the right way to go forward. I’ll even admit that.
However in whatever industry you choose, things are done a certain way. Yet if we’re being told that the millenial generation isn’t as willing to conform to how things have always been done, are we not setting ourselves up for conflict? In looking at the various issues in baseball over the past few years, you have to wonder if some of it can’t be chalked up to generational differences.
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Former Orioles Felix Pie, born in 1985, clashed with manager Dave Trembley and his staff on numerous occasions. Trembley was an old school guy who really didn’t care for guys with sideways caps. Pie was a bit of a firecracker who without a doubt had the raw talent to be a spark in a game. However in clashing with the culture that was in place, he was never able to channel that talent into what could have been a lengthy career.
We can debate all day who’s fault that was, but I would submit some of it lies on both sides. However my point isn’t so much to blame the millenial generation for everything – believe it or not. I have my issues with then, such as being told recently by one in their ranks that Jay-Z is the greatest artist of all time. C’mon man!
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But at the end of the day we all have to find a way to work with one another. Buck Showalter’s done a great job of unting the Orioles’ clubhouse, regardless of which generation of which one is a part. Maybe if we all made a better effort at understanding one another, things would function smoother. And I’m talking both in baseball and in real life.