Is "change of scenery" a baseball cliche or a legit factor for players?

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Chris Davis shaving cream pie

July 21, 2013

A couple of stories from the weekend got me thinking about familiar faces in new places and whether the explanation that a player can improve with a "change of scenery" holds any weight. If it does, you can consider the Orioles' Chris Davis as Exhibit A.

Davis returned to his native Texas this weekend as an entirely different ballplayer. Here it is in a nutshell:

"Davis played 266 games for Texas, hitting .248 with 42 homers and 124 RBIs. His 266th game with Baltimore came Friday night, and he was hitting .286 with 72 homers and 191 RBIs for the Orioles."

That comparison comes from a Concord Monitor story with the fitting headline "Move from Texas to Baltimore big for Chris Davis."

Davis and his wife still have a house in the Dallas area, where he arrived Wednesday after the All-Star game. There were barbecue and Tex-Mex meals, with plenty of sweet tea to drink, during his short break.

While he still loves Texas, his baseball career definitely benefited from leaving home.

“I got away from a place where I knew everybody and everybody knew me. I had grown up, had so much history really around the Dallas area,” he said. “I think it was nice to get away from that, go up to the Northeast where nobody knew who I was.”

It's an interesting read that supports the change-of-scenery theory.

Another familiar face in the news this weekend with a decided O's connection was Erik Bedard. Bedard, whose trade to Seattle gave the Orioles a haul of players that helped rebuild the team, came out of no-hitter in the seventh inning telling Astros manager Bo Porter during a mound visit, "I'm done." 

Sports Illustrated was one of many outlets playing the second-guessing game afterward.

Mariners manager Eric Wedge said he thought Porter made the correct move in giving Bedard the chance to stay in the game.

"If the guy says he doesn't want to stay in the game, what are you going to do? You take him out of the game," Wedge said. "Bo did it the right way. If the guy says he's done, you can't leave him in there and put him in a position to fail. He didn't have a choice."

Fellow Houston starter Bud Norris understood why Bedard made the decision he made, but would hate to be in a similar position.

"It would be a tough one to take the ball from me," Norris said. "It's always hard to give up the ball and with a no-hitter it would be even crazier."

ESPN's Tim Kurkjian, who is a Baltimore guy, relayed a story of Bedard's time with the Orioles and how the lefty ace marveled at Jim Palmer's career total for complete games (211 in 19 seasons). Kurkjian reported that Bedard told Palmer he felt like his job was done if he put in seven innings of work.

Bedard had one complete game in four full seasons in Baltimore. That July 7, 2007 outing came against the Orioles' opponent from the weekend, the Texas Rangers. To this day, it his is lone career complete game.

Different city, same Bedard. 

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