Today, Sports Illustrated’s Ben Reiter published the latest in a long line of profiles seeking to provide some insight into the mind of Cleveland Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer, a sentient Reddit comment starting off with “by your logic” that also has a 95-mph fastball (as well as a variety of other pitches it claims to have learned by reverse-engineering spin-rate statistics). Unlike previous profiles, it took Bauer’s studied presentation of himself as someone who’s just too smart for baseball and/or the world seriously enough to interrogate it, and so left me believing that if Bauer had not gotten into baseball at a young age he’d be spending his time today prowling MRA and incel forums.
The topline item here is probably Reiter inducing Bauer to lay out the rules he claims to lay out to women before getting involved with them, which basically sound like the power fantasies of a sad pre-teen who’s never talked to a girl but is eager to describe what sex is (probably) like. “As soon as I sense you’re developing feelings, I’m going to cut it off, because I’m not interested in a relationship and I’m emotionally unavailable,” says Bauer, and it gets more alarming from there.
The most interesting thing, though, is probably the throughline involving Bauer asserting that at a certain point in his life he stopped caring about what anyone thought of him, and committed himself to a love of himself:
“For the longest time, I just couldn’t figure out why everyone hated me,” he says. “I used to feel really bad for myself. Like, Why don’t I have any friends? Why don’t girls like me? Why does everyone s—- talk me? Am I really that bad of a person?”
One morning, during his junior year at Hart, Bauer returned home from an early pool workout, took a shower and looked at himself in the mirror, feeling sorry for himself as usual. Then something flipped. “I don’t see anything that I dislike,” he told himself. “I’m going to go off to college and play baseball. I’m successful. I’m smart. I like myself.” From that day forward, he says, “I just stopped giving a f—- what people thought of me. And now I just don’t care.”
Bauer not only doesn’t care, but strenuously doesn’t care—everything is in fact funny to him, and he’s laughing, which is probably why he engages with even the most obscure person who dares to say anything about him. (Take for instance this response to Twitter user Tankie Viciedo making fun of his bad rap song.) His not caring may have reached its peak last month, when he spent more than a day psychotically harassing a college student who had lightly criticized him. SI asked Bauer about the incident, and he offered a truly insane defense of his actions:
At first, Bauer dismisses the exchange as competitive trolling. “It’s a mental chess match, to me,” he says. Eventually, he admits that it runs deeper. “I ignore the vast majority of things people say to me online. Sometimes, I respond. But all you see is the response. You don’t see people wishing that I have my throat sliced open and bleed to death in front of millions of fans on TV, or saying not to come to Detroit because they’re going to kill me and my family for hitting a couple Detroit batters.”
Giles, though, didn’t say anything nearly so nasty. Besides, shouldn’t Bauer, a wealthy celebrity, be above trolling?
“People pull the role model card,” he says. “The way I see it, I am a role model because I show people it’s O.K. to stand up for yourself. That you can stand up to a bully. And I get that a lot of people won’t see it that way. But that’s what it is. When someone goes out of their way to tweet me that I’m a piece of s—- or whatever, that’s a bully.”
Is that really what a bully looks like—an anonymous college student who told USA Today that she spent the next three days crying as Bauer and his followers hounded her?
“It probably isn’t smart,” he finally says. “It probably isn’t ideal. I don’t go out of my way to harass anybody. But, I mean, if you’re going to come at me, that’s just what I do.”
Bauer does a lot of things, like failing to square his genuinely impressive work ethic and commitment to researching how to be an effective major-league pitcher with the data that shows that aside from his anomalous 2018 season he’s been an utter mediocrity through his career, and Reiter lays most of them out. They’re harrowing to read about, but it’s worth your time to do so, just as it’s worth thinking about just how much worse off the world might be if this painfully unamusing asshole were either as clever as he thinks he is or unable to throw a baseball hard, and so forced to put all his energy toward darker ends.