Cleveland Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer is one of those athletes who seems custom-built to confuse sportswriters. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is the latest to get hoodwinked.
You may remember Bauer being lauded as some sort of prospect savant when he was in college because he used terms like “effective velocity” and played long-toss from a greater than usual distance. Back in 2011, ESPN’s Tim Keown slobbered all over Bauer and quoted one of his coaches as saying, “He pitches with the wisdom of Greg Maddux at 33.”
Somehow, this image of Bauer as a massive-brained sports genius has managed to persist, here in 2018, despite his most notable accomplishment being that time he nearly cut off his finger with a drone before his ALCS start. This is because he has managed to portray himself as someone who isn’t afraid to speak his mind, a trait that sportswriters constantly confuse for intelligence. This is how we ended up with today’s profile of Bauer by Crasnick, which includes descriptions like this:
Bauer (rhymes with “dour”) is the complex, contradiction-laden member of Cleveland’s Big Three. He’s passionate yet outwardly reserved, a former mechanical engineering major in a world populated more by doers than deep thinkers. One minute he’s lamenting all the criticism he receives for being so outspoken. Then he responds to every interview question as if he has been injected with truth serum.
And what evidence are we given that Bauer is a complex truth-teller, a guy who is more of a deep thinker than a doer?
“People get the wrong impression about me,’’ Bauer said. “They think I’m elitist or I’m conceited or whatever. But I’m a really good person. I take care of my friends and my family. I’m kindhearted. I’m a better person than a lot of people I’m surrounded by. I’ll get chewed up for saying that, but it’s true.’’
You know who says things like that? Assholes!
“I just get this reputation of being a bad teammate, but no one would come in and tell me why. So a couple of years back, I went and asked five or six teammates, ‘What makes me a bad teammate?’ And I couldn’t get a straight answer. Either they didn’t want to tell me to my face or they didn’t know.”
You know who has to have conversations like that with their friends and colleagues? Assholes!
You know who tweets like that? Assholes!
Trevor Bauer is an asshole, and the only thing that distinguishes him from the scores of other unremarked-upon assholes who populate major-league clubhouses is his ability to perform intelligence for interested observers. Never mind that the things he actually says are just as rock-stupid as anything that will ever fall from the mouth of any bumpkin ballplayer who’s never heard of “laminar flow.” Trevor Bauer is nothing more than stupid person’s idea of a smart person.
The irony is that there’s no way to glorify someone like Bauer without looking like a huge moron yourself. Which brings me to my favorite part of Crasnick’s piece, where he attempts to pull back the curtain on Bauer’s kind, sensitive heart:
In 2016, a turbulent period when law enforcement officials were under siege across the U.S., Bauer’s social conscience and benevolent side coalesced, and he bought a suite for 26 police officers who were in Cleveland for the Republican National Convention.
What a renaissance man.