Trevor Bauer remains unsigned, and Ken Rosenthal reported on the Mets’ interest in the Cy Young winner on Friday night, including Bauer putting some spin on a big reason that a New York team would be reluctant to sign him, namely his own description of himself as being “good at two things in this world, throwing baseballs and pissing people off.”
Bauer being a proud jerk who claimed to have voted for Donald Trump, definitely supported him, then said he didn’t … well, there are plenty of baseball players who might fit that description. But Bauer’s ability to get into a tiff with Mike Francesa when he didn’t even play in New York, combined with his propensity for bringing toddler-level antics onto the field, well, that’s something that can make a New York, or any, team have second thoughts.
And the key part of what Bauer told Rosenthal, as highlighted from beyond the paywall by Rosenthal’s colleague at The Athletic, Levi Weaver, is when Bauer said, “I am by no means a bully and I take great offense to my character being called into question.”
There’s the problem. Rather than examining why his character has been called into question on multiple occasions, and why he’s so often been labeled a bully, Bauer is offended by the very suggestion that he’s been in the wrong. This is all too common in and out of sports, the attempt to turn the tables on accountability for one’s own behavior. It was seen most recently with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy going on TV on Friday night to say, “I also think everybody across this country has some responsibility” for the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6.
No, we don’t all have some responsibility for it. And no, the people Bauer has targeted for online harassment are not to blame for him being unable to handle anodyne criticism, or just praise of Clayton Kershaw. Bauer has never appreciated, nor even appeared to try to reckon with, the fact that as a Major League Baseball player with a large online following, he cannot just tweet like a schmuck and not have any consequence attached to it.
Whether or not he’s a bully (he is), Bauer’s character should be called into question, because a big part of his character is an aggressiveness that usually serves him very well on a pitcher’s mound, but also has drawbacks, like constant refusal to admit when he’s wrong. The Mets, in particular, would be stupid not to wonder about Bauer’s character, especially having just this week dismissed a general manager who didn’t know how to behave himself with his smartphone.
If the Mets come away thinking that Bauer can handle New York without getting mired in constant slap fights with the media, and letting that affect his performance, that’s their conclusion. But Bauer continues to do nothing to indicate that he’s engaged in any sort of introspection, only that he’s going to keep doing things his way, everyone else be damned. That’s the kind of thing that can and should make a team think twice about paying him an eight-figure salary, because they won’t be paying him for the Cy Young he won in a shortened season in Cincinnati where he openly yelled at teammates in the middle of a playoff race and took a thinly-veiled shot at them after a playoff loss, they’ll be paying him not to melt down on their watch.
Oh, also, this exists. Sorry.
Officially, we are impartial regarding the AFC Championship Game.
Pierre-Luc Dubois wants out of Columbus, which he made clear on Thursday night by playing so halfheartedly that John Tortorella was justified in benching one of his best players.
Dubois is going to get his way and get a trade very soon, it appears, perhaps even by the time you’re reading this.
UPDATED, January 23, 2021, 11:15 a.m.: Dubois has been traded, as Columbus dealt with its problem by acquiring two of the Winnipeg Jets’ problems, disgruntled sharpshooter Patrik Laine and Columbus-born holdout RFA Jack Roslovic.
In his breakdown of Dubois’ play leading up to his benching, Sportsnet’s Justin Bourne wrote, “If a player wants out, it’s incumbent upon them to prove they have value and should be sought after. The case Tortorella seems to be making without saying it directly is that Dubois is pulling something more akin to what James Harden did to get out of Houston, which was ‘put yourself first and barely care about the team to the point everybody just wants you gone, return value be damned.’”
The return value on a trade shouldn’t have anything to do with a player’s performance in the days leading up to a bad breakup, though. Anyone trading for a Harden or a Dubois knows what they expect, and the presence of multiple suitors negates any downgrade in the value anyway. Where there’s a real leverage shift is when a player wants out and can dictate what team he’s going to be traded to.
In the meantime, the only mistake in this case was having Dubois dress for Thursday night’s game, a mistake that was quickly corrected by stapling him to the bench, giving ice time to players who actually wanted to be there, and making sure that the trade return for Dubois wouldn’t be really damaged by him going out and getting hurt, which is absolutely a thing that can happen in hockey if your mind is more on how much you want to be gone than on the five players in the other uniform ready to take a run at you.
Dubois never asked to be in Columbus. He was drafted there. He has the talent and the power to be able to force his way out and he’s using the one bit of leverage that he has in providing his labor. If anything, it’s surprising that we don’t see this kind of thing more often.