In some ways, it felt like MLB set up their new “inspection of baseballs” rules specifically for Trevor Bauer. He’s the one who openly bitched about the Houston Astros pitchers and their increased spin rate. He’s the one who demonstrated, in Houston, what foreign substances could do. He’s the one who brazenly used foreign substances in his free-agent year last season to get him his 1/3rd Cy Young award and $40 million per year from the Dodgers. And though it doesn’t seem like the kind of thing MLB would care about, and certainly never admit, he’s just the kind of asshole MLB could scrutinize and exactly no one would have sympathy. You couldn’t do this with say, Max Scherzer or Yu Darvish. People actually like them.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic says that baseballs from Bauer’s start Wednesday were sent off to whatever lab they’re using to inspect them closer. It’s not likely they’ll find much, we know how this goes. But you can’t help but laugh, if not think it’s intentional, that Bauer was the first name to pop up under this new directive.
Of course, Bauer is taking the “FAKE NEWS!” route defense:
Rosenthal is about as respected as it gets in baseball journalism, and while he’s not always on target, his batting average is higher than most. Bauer trying to equate him to an ambulance-chaser is not a fight he’s going to win. Sure, maybe they’ve taken baseballs from other pitchers too. But Rosenthal would have assuredly mentioned that if he was told that by the same sources. These sources want him to know it was Bauer’s that were sent away. Again, probably because he’s a raging rectum who made himself a spectacle about it.
Per the data? Bauer is showing some increase in spin rate on his curveball (from 2926 RPM to 3039 RPM this year), a negligible increase on his slider (2951 to 2974), and somewhere in between on his sinker (2795 to 2877). Is that enough to say he’s been doctoring baseballs? Probably not, depending on what they find on the balls.
Bauer and his misfiring monoxide alarm of an agent Rachel Luba have been trying to get out in front of this since MLB sent out that memo outlining what they’d be doing. Bauer first tried to deflect by wondering what happens if it’s other players applying the substances, as if it wasn’t him still throwing the baseball. Luba wondered about pitchers who had been using substances long-term, as if that wasn’t the fucking point of the whole thing.
It’s not prudent to get our hopes up that Bauer will get terribly stung by all this. It’s likely everything will be “inconclusive.” Still, you have to feel some righteousness that the douchebag who made himself the center of attention on this because he can’t help himself has watched it boomerang on his oafish face. Sometimes things do work out, even minimally.
Gotham FC, the New York area’s NWSL team, released their new shirts yesterday, and they really whip:
The broad stripe signifies the Hudson River, as Gotham FC has embraced their dual New York/New Jersey residence. Even the name “Gotham FC” is ace. You may remember Gotham FC as Sky Blue FC, and this is their rebranding. Sky Blue had myriad problems, and were something of a perfect example of the previous problems the NWSL, and women’s sports, had in spades. But Gotham FC’s move to Red Bull Arena has solved a lot of things, and similarly, NWSL is moving into a new era, one of real promise and advancement.
Gotham FC and Angel City FC in Los Angeles are just badass names. Hopefully more NWSL teams follow suit, because it’s so much cooler than MLS’s habit of just co-opting European names fans might have heard of. Like, seriously, what the fuck is “Real Salt Lake?” Gotham and Angel City have an edge to it.
It’s something of a branding streak of excellence from the league, as the Orlando Pride released their new shirts last week and they’re pretty boss, too. This stuff matters (closer to home (for me at least), the Chicago Red Stars have had the best jerseys in Chi-Town for a few years now, non-racist log division). This stuff matters, and will only help the league grow.