Trevor Bauer is going to be reinstated by Major League Baseball at some point. We might as well accept it from the outset. We don’t know when the reinstatement will come. Earlier this week, MLB extended Bauer’s administrative leave through April 22.
No one knows what happens after that, and in fact, the LA Times is reporting that Bauer could argue that the extension to his leave is not binding and there’s a possibility that he could show up at Dodger Stadium on Sunday.
What we do know is that allegations of sexual assault and battery, no matter how vicious, are never going to be enough to keep a man from playing professional sports. Look at the long list of men who have been accused and how many of them are still active players. A certain kind of man on Twitter will scream about Ray Rice but, let’s be honest, that had more to do with his declining abilities than punching his wife in the face on camera. Ben Roethlisberger, Patrick Kane, Kobe Bryant, even Antonio Brown all went on to have lengthy and successful careers after allegations of rape.
For the women (and it’s almost always women) who write about athletes accused of sexual assault and domestic violence, so much of this feels like constantly screaming into the void. The allegations are made, the police investigate, someone digs up dirt on the victim, the prosecutor declines to press charges, the player goes on with his life and the whole world forgets, with the exception of the Twitter brigades who are constantly on alert to harass anyone who dares bring up the player’s past sins.
At the same time, we are a country that values the maxim “innocent until proven guilty,” even though that argument seems to be reserved for famous men being accused of crimes, as opposed to, say, alleged Brooklyn subway shooting suspect Frank James. (No one has been yelling about unfair woke mobs and feminazis hellbent on destroying him. Curious!) With the L.A. District Attorney declining to press charges against Bauer, he could be back playing baseball when his current administrative leave stint ends. On the other hand, MLB does its own investigations into allegations against players, and has handed down lengthy suspensions before on cases that were never charged criminally.
The longest suspension we’ve seen MLB impose was on pitcher Sam Dyson, who was prohibited from playing for the entire 2021 season after his ex-girlfriend came forward with allegations that Dyson hurled objects at and injured both her and her cat. We’ll never know what Dyson’s ex told MLB investigators, but it was apparently enough to warrant a season-long suspension.
Trevor Bauer is different, though. Not just because he’s a star pitcher, an ace, the hottest commodity on the trade or free agent market every time he hits it. Bauer also has a large social media following, one that he’s used to harass and bully women and his critics. In fact, an Ohio woman also accused Bauer of sexual assault, including choking and punching her during sex, without her consent. This was way back in 2017, long before the second woman came forward to accuse Bauer of similar claims in 2021. Bauer has denied both allegations, but the Ohio woman got a restraining order against Bauer, in part because of SnapChat messages he sent her (Bauer’s lawyer and agent questioned the validity of the messages):
“I don’t feel like spending time in jail for killing someone,” one message read, according to The Post. “And that’s what would happen if I saw you again.”
In an undated Snapchat message, Bauer allegedly wrote, “Like the only reason I’d ever consider seeing you again is to choke you unconscious, punch you in the face shove my fist up your a— skull f—- you and kick you out naked. And obviously I would never do something like that to anyone. So can’t even enjoy the one thing I sometimes enjoyed with you.”
This is the point where full disclosure demands that I let you know that Bauer is suing both The Athletic, sportswriter Molly Knight (one of the best in the business, in my opinion), Deadspin editor Chris Baud, and Deadspin’s parent company, G/O Media, for defamation related to reporting on the allegations against him. Bauer was practically gleeful in announcing the lawsuits:
In addition to constantly bitching about the media and not being familiar with New York Times v. Sullivan (Google it), Bauer also recently lost a legal motion in which his team sought to obtain the cell phone records of the L.A. accuser, arguing that she made up the allegations against Bauer to profit financially. A significant portion of Bauer’s Twitter feed is him whining about the media making up lies about him (we don’t do that), whining about other things he sees as unjust, or trying to convince people that everyone is out to get him. Oh, and then there’s this:
I’m not sure what kind of “we were both accused of sexual assault and aren’t you mad, bro?” fraternity Bauer is trying to establish here, but it gets to the heart of the real problem with Trevor Bauer, which is his apparent desire to destroy anyone who he feels wronged him, and that includes the women who made allegations against him. His allies? Other men who have been accused of similar things, If you’re looking for contrition or regret or even a “maybe I should be a little more careful in how I interact with women,” you won’t find it from Bauer. Or his agent, Rachel Luba, who provides cover for Bauer by using the tried and true trick of having a woman defend you from allegations of sexual assault.
It’s worth noting that Luba previously representsed Yasiel Puig, who was also accused of sexual assault by multiple women. Puig denied the allegations, (as well as an additional accusation of sexual assault in 2018), and settled with the first two accusers.
Trevor Bauer has strenuously denied doing anything wrong, loudly and crudely claiming that everything that occurred between him and his accusers was consensual. He has a legal team behind him that’s clearly willing to go the extra mile to punish anyone who says otherwise. Bauer can argue consent all he wants, but the women who came forward against him say they did not consent, and their state of mind is really the only one that matters. The Sexual Assault Response Team nurse who testified about the injuries inflicted on the L.A. accuser said she observed red and purple bruising around the woman’s genitals, saying “I had never seen that before. It was frankly alarming.”
Bauer’s response is mainly that this was “rough sex” with a woman he “barely knew.” He claims the “disturbing acts and conduct that she described simply did not occur.”
What has become clear to me after following Bauer for some time is that he enjoys harming women. Sexually, physically, socially, professionally, financially. And he is not afraid to do it publicly, making it more likely that other victims alleging sexual assault at the hands of other men will hesitate before coming forward. It seems like everything Bauer does lately is centered around discrediting women: His accusers, Molly Knight at The Athletic, me, here at Deadspin (some of my reporting is mentioned in his lawsuit against G/O Media). In his world, every woman is out to get him.
I guess all of this is a long-winded way of saying that MLB and Rob Manfred stand to do a lot of harm if Bauer isn’t handed a lengthy suspension. Because allowing him back into baseball’s good graces is putting MLB’s stamp of approval on everything Bauer has done since the allegations came to light. It would be an endorsement (and, I fear, a road map for other athletes) of shouting down an alleged victim until she shuts up and goes away, something we already see far too much of in society at large.
Do the right thing, Mr. Commissioner, don’t reward Trevor Bauer for his past behavior. Have him sit out all of 2022, as well.