Bauer should be back on the mound

The facts and capitalism are in Bauer's favor

By
Cliff Pfenning
on
September 2, 2021
Category:
National

Somewhere out in the world of sports merchandising, there’s a whole lotta bobblehead dolls of Trevor Bauer in a Los Angeles Dodgers uniform looking for a home.

This is one of the key fallouts of what can easily be described as the “Trevor Bauer Sex Scandal.” As a Dodgers fan, I’ve been following this story since it arrived in late June, and now that it’s been addressed in court, I’m very interested in what the outcome will be on his career starting with this season.

I’m hoping Major League Baseball, the Players Union as well as the Dodgers just tell Bauer to go back to pitching. The rationale is that to do something like fine Bauer, or suspend him, would be akin to handing down a judgment on his lifestyle, and that of thousands of other Americans, too.

Baseball doesn’t need to judge how Bauer lives off the field - all it needs to do now is just step back and move on from what has been a very unfortunate development to the 2021 season.

Just let Bauer go back to pitching, and let the public, one person at a time, determine on its own how to judge him through the magic of capitalism.

Bauer was cleared of potential domestic violence charges when a judge ruled in civil court August 19  that a five-year restraining order wasn’t a suitable outcome for the short-term sexual relationship he had with a woman that involved very physical acts. They were so physical the woman involved went to a hospital to be examined and had numerous photos taken of bruises she sustained.

The photos and her graphic descriptions were enough to get a temporary restraining order in June, which resulted in Bauer -  baseball’s highest paid player, being put on administrative leave, one week at a time, until further notice. The Pasadena Police Department investigated this case in terms of assault, for more than three months before turning over its facts to the Los Angeles County District Attorney in late August.

The photos involved that have been made public show the results of physical abuse, but how that abuse came to pass is the part of the story that gets sticky enough so that the Pasadena Police Department couldn’t figure out how to move forward for more than three months. Same with baseball’s leadership, which also has been conducting its own investigation.

But, the civil part of the case moved forward very quickly - it took the judge just five minutes to render a decision after four days of testimony. Her decision was essentially that the woman involved was looking for a good time with Bauer, it involved very physical acts that text messages introduced as evidence showed she was aware of, and she got what she was after - a very physical sexual relationship that included bruises.

She wanted it, got it, and should stop complaining. It took the judge just five minutes to render that decision, which scholars following the case figured that she had determined after three days and wrote out her decision before closing arguments happened.

Bauer might be an extreme individual in terms of sexual conduct, but there are plenty of people who are involved in that type of conduct within our society. In downtown Portland, Spartacus is a store that sells items for that lifestyle. Anyone who’s been in the store will have a vision of what that lifestyle involves starting with whips, chains, handcuffs among the variety of sex toys. Everyone does not live by the same rules in the world of sex, and capitalism showcases that through stores like Spartacus.

Trevor Bauer apparently likes to beat women up, but his defense is they want to be beaten up - it’s exciting for both parties. Shake your head about that if you want, but it is how some people enjoy sex. Spartacus doesn’t sell books or manuals for how to properly beat women up, but the reality is there and can be summed up in one word - a safe word meaning “stop.”

Bauer’s defense in this case includes his knowledge of a safe word, including “stop,” and that it never came up in the two consensual meetings he had with the woman involved. The judge’s ruling agreed with that defense, and that this wasn’t a case of domestic violence as though Bauer had just gotten clobbered on the mound and returned to his apartment and beat up his partner from the night before while she screamed.

Baseball, the Players Union and the Dodgers are in a tough spot here because those photos show Bauer is a violent, abusive man, at least he enjoys that role as part of sex - in the closed door to his bedroom. His defense is that’s just a role he plays with a partner consensually. It’s behind a closed door, so just stay out of that and let him pitch, which is why he’s being paid $40 million for this season.

The Washington Post discovered another restraining order against Bauer from 2017 in Ohio when he was pitching for the Cleveland Indians. The Post put the two restraining orders together to showcase baseball’s highest paid player is a habitually abusive man toward women. In the post-judgment press conference, the attorney for the woman involved stated she was just hoping to make Bauer’s abusive nature public and that he gets help for that.

Again, Bauer’s defense is it’s just a role he plays in sex with a consensual partner. And, he’s not the only person who enjoys that.

Women’s rights groups can point to thousands of cases where the abuse isn’t consensual and no one should enjoy physically abusing another.

But, alternative lifestyle groups can counter that as long as it’s consensual, whatever happens during sex - behind a closed door - should not be up for judgment by someone else, and shouldn’t even be called alternative.

Between those two options, the judge in the civil case chose the second - in five minutes.

Is Bauer’s career over, now that he can be viewed essentially as a wife-beater? And, does he need therapy to help cure his aggressive nature as a sex partner?

Does Bauer need to apologize at some point? He can easily argue “for what? Living a different lifestyle than most people? Why do I need to apologize for that?

“Is baseball’s fanbase so pure that none of the parents who bring their kids to a game have a sex toy?”

Bauer’s view on dating is not a secret. In 2019, Sports Illustrated did a story on him, which included his view on dating and his three rules - no feelings, no social media posts about their relationship, and he sleeps around. He’s a single guy, currently age 30, and he wants to enjoy it to the fullest. Maybe his hero is Charlie Sheen.

Capitalism can respond to this case rather easily. If Bauer were to put an ad online promoting a night with him, say in Las Vegas, and the women who respond know exactly what’s involved, would anyone respond? I’m thinking he would get overwhelmed with responses.

The woman/women who were invited to Vegas might very well head there with the idea they were going to conquer this guy by either addressing him as a therapist or just overwhelming him with their instant passion.

“You don’t want to get emotionally involved with your partner, but that’s because you haven’t met me,” might be the first line from one of those women.

Bauer might respond: “yeah, what have you got?”

Then she hits him, and Bauer grins. He hits her back, and she grins. Then, it’s off to the races with lots of heavy breathing, and likely bruises. Bauer might very well have engaged in this form of sex dozens, maybe even hundreds of times without any complaints from that partner, and the photos the bruises that weren’t made public. Again, shake your head if you need, but parts of America enjoy this lifestyle - behind a closed door.

Part of Bauer being worth $40 million for the season, and $102 for his three-year contract, is that he’s entertaining, especially through social media. He won the National League Cy Young Award while with the Cincinnati Reds, so he’s an asset on the field, but he’s an asset off the field, too. He developed his own brand - Bauer Outage, and sells it through his website, trevorbauer.com. At least he did before the scandal happened.

His social media presence included what can be deemed harassment of a Texas State student in 2019 because she posted on Twitter he was her least favorite player. He went after her with a vengeance for a weekend, and she complained to the Indians. He stopped and promised to be a better social media figure. And he apparently did.

In my household, upon asking my teenage son - a varsity baseball player - who his favorite MLB player was in 2019 (fully expecting Mike Trout as he’s an Angels fan) the answer was Bauer. Not having paid much attention to baseball beyond the Dodgers at the time, I drew a blank, and had to explore that response.

Bauer wasn’t entertaining to me, but I’m not his market. He had more than 100,000 followers on both Twitter and Facebook. That kind of following takes some effort in the form of content. He had been doing that, including that incident with the Texas State student. Few other, no other players come to mind, players put in the kind of work through social media, choosing to let their performance on the field determine their value.

The Dodgers knew who Bauer was, even with the Texas State incident, and chose to throw money at him. He responded this season with an 8-5 record and a 2.59 ERA through June. The 8-5 record might not be so impressive, but the 2.59 ERA is, highlighted by a 1.98 ERA in May. His five starts n May, though, only turned into a 3-2 record despite his ERA being 1.98. He was doing his job, including not missing a start - 17 at that point, and the Dodgers responded by inventing that Bobblehead night, set for August 19.

His being a proponent of MLB being more assertive on social media was likely part of that decision to invent Bobblehead night. Bauer has been entertaining, and that's what baseball is about.

The photos from June were the key to dissolving that night.

Regardless of the facts involved in this case that went nowhere in five minutes, and the 2017 restraining order that went nowhere because the woman involved demanded it be halted, Bauer has been lumped into all the MLB suspensions from the past regarding domestic violence. The facts in those past MLB cases demanded a response of fines and suspensions. The facts in Bauer’s case do not.

And, yet, he’s a villain, regardless of that the photos happened behind a closed door. Virtually all of the writing done after the civil court decision has focused on the fact his career might be over. Certainly his season is over. That rationale revolves around those photos and baseball not being able to control its players in terms of domestic violence.

Sally Jenkins, long-time sports columnist for the Washington Post, wrote that Bauer doesn’t belong in a Major League dugout, and instead belongs in a “psychological evaluation.”

Apparently, she’s never been to a store like Spartacus.

And, I’m not suggesting Spartacus promotes abusive sex, only that (and, I’m assuming entirely without having talked to the owners of the store) abusive sex happens, and a key to that kind of sex is a “safe word” that means stop. The reporting on the case from this year have not promoted that a "safe word," or “stop,” was ever used.

Being a fan of Law and Order (and its daily reruns on streaming TV) - at least until Jerry Orbach died in 2004, I’m familiar with a version of how the legal process works, and that leads me to think the Pasadena Police waffled for those three months. The assault was on one night - the night from the photos. If they thought that was worthy of a crime, they would have moved forward in mere days. They didn’t, instead choosing to send the photos, and basic evidence they’d collected in a couple days, to LA and basically pass the buck.

Again, using Law and Order as a resource, the district attorneys in LA are likely struggling with the reality of whether they can win a case for abuse based on those photos and the testimony that the woman involved was abused while she was unconscious. The civil court decision - in five minutes - is probably enough to make them think just a version of testimony of what happened by Bauer would convince 12 jurors to think the photos were a result of something the woman involved had agreed to and Bauer, whatever you think of him, is exactly who he has promoted he is, and isn’t an abusive man, just a rough dude in the bedroom.

A rough dude - behind a closed doors.

The Major League Baseball investigation of Bauer shouldn’t be anything beyond what the Pasadena Police Department has done, and shouldn’t have come to any more of a conclusion that Pasadena did - pass the buck the LA, and MLB, too.

The MLB Players Association has some issues to resolve in not coming to the conclusion promoted here in defending one of its members.

A way to view something of a conclusion to this case is through those bobblehead dolls. They don’t have any value for the Dodgers, who promote family entertainment and can’t be seen as accepting someone who beats women up in their dugout, no matter how good he is. Baseball’s leadership can easily support this view, and ban Bauer for the season or longer because it doesn’t want to deal with the fallout of abusive sex regardless of any doors.

But, the bobbleheads can probably be sold - yes, for money - especially if Bauer were to have a simple press conference in which he addressed his lifestyle, and that it was never a secret because it didn’t need to be as it was behind closed doors - and with a consensual partner. And, then he promoted the usage of a “safe word” during sex - for any lifestyle.

Maybe promoting that “safe word” might actually influence or stop some non-consensual abuse outside of sex.

Trevor Bauer Bobbleheads on sale?

If they were promoted as being on sale at noon Eastern time on a specific web site, I’m thinking they would be sold out at 12:01. They might not have any value for the Dodgers, but they’re collectors items now for a large part of America that responds to social media or non-traditional sex behind a closed door.

The “safe word”?

Maybe, it’s "fastball," or "change-up," or "strikeout." "No-hitter?" Or just "bobblehead."

Trevor Bauer belongs on a pitching mound, helping the Dodgers defend their World Series title. That’s not just because I’m a fan and want him to earn that $40 million on the field, but because of the facts in the case that has caused him to miss so much of the 2021 season.




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Cliff Pfenning

Cliff is the publisher of Oregonsports.com, as well as the chief developer of content for the fledgling Oregon Sports Programming Network. He's been a sportswriter in Oregon for more than three decades as well as a youth sports coach for more than three decades and taught sports broadcasting in Portland. He lives in North Portland.