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Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

My Twitter fight with Trevor Bauer

Trevor Bauer continues to use his followers to bully people online.
Trevor Bauer continues to use his followers to bully people online.
Image: (Getty Images)

Trevor Bauer and I both worked in Toronto during the 2016 American League Championship Series. One of us made it all the way through Game 3 without bleeding all over the place from a cut sustained while working on a drone and forcing our boss to replace us.

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Perhaps that’s how you know Bauer, as the drone guy. Or perhaps you know him as the guy who had a hissy fit on the mound in Kansas City last year and threw a ball over the center-field wall. Or perhaps you know him from being a climate skeptic, or as a wannabe rapper, or as the guy who said he’d cut off any relationship with a woman who developed feelings for him, and that he’d definitely be out sleeping around.

Or as an online bully, which was what he was once again on Tuesday.

“Your point was to harm my reputation,” Bauer tweeted in reaction to that Deadspin piece. “My behavior on twitter consists of interacting with fans in the way they first chose to interact with me, sharing my passion for the game and growing the game, providing resources to young baseball players who may otherwise not have them.

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No, there is no harm one can do to Bauer’s reputation that he has not already done himself. All that happened here was noting his latest behavior and critiquing it, and he provided more material for such critique with his tweetstorm on Tuesday night.

“Sharing my opinions about and reactions to sports, and supporting a large number of charities that do great work in their communities,” Bauer continued. “Your behavior online consists of attempting to slander others for clicks as you cling to your nothing job and existence. It’s pathetic.”

It’s great that Bauer is charitable, even if he manages to make it about himself by doing things like basing it so heavily around the ha-ha numbers 69 and 420 that CBS Sports declared, “Only Trevor Bauer could make charity this annoying.” But annoying people can do good things, and it’s also beyond question that Bauer has done good. The problem is, that’s irrelevant to how he conducts himself on Twitter, as is the status of my job and existence.

Bauer had some other tweets, too, that didn’t do himself any favors, although his followers lapped it up with hundreds of replies and quote tweets, which is a nice little dopamine rush for a guy who’s sitting at home during the playoffs.

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“If responding to people on twitter qualifies as mysogynystic (sic), it appears that you, yourself, are quite the misogynist,” Bauer wrote. “Outside of responding to people who tag me on twitter dot com you can’t provide a single case of me ‘routinely targeting women’ …because they don’t exist.

“The truth is, you’re a fraud ‘reporter’ with no original ideas that is supposed to generate a certain number of clicks per month to keep your job, so you piggyback off my platform and perpetrate false narratives trying to attract attention. If anyone’s behavior is harrassment (sic),

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“It’s yours, using your tiny platform to repeatedly tweet with the intent to damage someone else. I realize I’m giving you what you so desperately want but here’s the publicity you’re after. Hope you hit your monthly quota and keep your job…”

Let’s leave aside the hollow retort of oh yeah, you’re the real sexist here, both because it’s ludicrous as a rhetorical tool and because there’s more to get to with it in a moment. Instead, let’s go to Bauer’s claim that there are no cases of him routinely targeting women outside of people who tag him on Twitter.

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During the 2018 World Series, writer Molly Knight had a seemingly anodyne tweet about Clayton Kershaw, writing, “Nobody in baseball works harder than this man, or wants it more. Watching him win a ring would restore at least a sliver of my faith in humanity.” Bauer was not tagged, and yet there he was in Knight’s mentions, demanding “evidence that supports these claims.”

But even if it is a matter of interacting with people who tag him on Twitter, Bauer is the major league pitcher here, and again, this is not new territory for someone who last year did the exact same thing, and pledged, “I will wield the responsibility of my public platform more responsibly in the future.”

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So, Bauer knew what he was doing. He knew that when he quote tweets someone, he has legions of followers who, even if he’s not saying to do so specifically, will dogpile the target of his scorn. Maybe he had plausible deniability for that in 2019. He sure as hell doesn’t in 2020, and as a free agent this winter, that might prove costly. You have to wonder if teams in big markets will be concerned about the makeup of a guy whose meltdowns are so plentiful and well-chronicled that the appropriate rejoinder to “hey, remember when Trevor Bauer made an ass of himself?” Is “which time?” Are there any big-money, contending teams, in high-pressure media markets who might be put off by such a character, because even though they employ multiple pitchers who have been suspended for domestic violence, the one mortal sin to that organization is running afoul of the Francesa-industrial complex? One wonders.

As for the rest of that piece of Bauer’s screed, I’m pretty happy with the original ideas that I’ve executed just since coming to Deadspin, where I do not, in fact, have a target number of monthly clicks to keep my job. Do I want people to read what I write? Sure, but I’d be a lot happier if people clicked on thoroughly researched and planned pieces like “Heartbreak City” or “Project ShaqBox” (the last installment of which featured historical perspective on Bauer’s excellent playoff performance for a losing cause) than quick newsers about some dumbass’ lousy tweeting.

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Before finally calling it a night on Tuesday, Bauer had one more thing to say: “If I said the same thing to a man, as I’ve done many times, banter. Because it was a woman, you wrote a slanderous clickbait article calling it mysogynistic (sic). So, who’s the sexist here? Treating a woman differently than a man because she’s a woman is the definition of sexism, dolt”

If you’re going to call someone a dolt, try not to preface it with being wrong. The definition of sexism is not treating a woman differently than a man because she’s a woman. According to Oxford, it’s “prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex.” Merriam-Webster is more concise, saying sexism is “prejudice or discrimination based on sex.” But let’s go beyond the dictionary to what the Council of Europe said in addressing sexism last year:

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“Sexism is a manifestation of ‘historically unequal power relations’ between women and men, which leads to discrimination and prevents the full advancement of women in society.”

Unequal power relations is a key thing to note in the dynamic between Bauer and nearly anyone he runs up against online. He’s the celebrity with a massive following, he knows it, and he wields it, in this case having railed about “using your tiny platform.” There’s a multiplicative effect when Bauer decides to “banter” with a woman in this fashion, because, as the European Council noted, “acts of ‘everyday’ sexism are part of a continuum of violence creating a climate of intimidation, fear, discrimination, exclusion and insecurity which limits opportunities and freedom.”

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Bauer promised to be more responsible with his tweeting, a promise he was incapable of keeping, and it’s not new information that women have a very different online experience than men. I’m proud to work here with Julie DiCaro, a Peabody winner for #MoreThanMean four years ago, and know that if she had written the same piece and had the same back-and-forth on Twitter with Bauer that I did, her Twitter mentions wouldn’t just be an unreadable mess of poorly spelled insults, there also would be physical threats, and she would have to determine how seriously to take those threats. Online hasn’t exactly gotten better since 2016, you may have noticed.

To be mindful of these facts while tweeting is not sexist, it’s an acknowledgment that there’s inequality in the way that people act and proceeding accordingly. It’s the reason that if Barstool Sports does some of its nonsense and I’m reacting to it, I’m going to consider whose content I engage, because quite often amplifying a woman’s criticism of that site is to invite thousands of trolls into her mentions.

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Bauer, despite his past experience in this area, does not think that way. He’s very smart about baseball, and has a lot of good ideas about growing the game, but human interaction has never been his thing.

“I’m good at two things in this world,” Bauer said in a Sports Illustrated profile last year that described, among other incidents displaying his lack of social awareness, his insistence on wearing a Duke cap during his UCLA recruiting visit. “Throwing baseballs and pissing people off.”

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Bauer is done throwing baseballs for this year.

Sorry to all the other Jesse Spectors for ruining your Google results.

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