LOS ANGELES – What a waste. What a horrible and ugly mess. And what a stain on baseball and one of its most venerable teams.
As he slipped next to his attorney in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom last week, Trevor Bauer, the polarizing Dodgers hometown pitching star, wore the focused gaze of a man who knew his future was at stake.
About 40 feet away, seated at a narrow table in front of a judge, stood the 27-year-old woman who accused Bauer of sexual assault, a charge he vehemently denies.
It was August 19, the last day of an almost week-long hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court to decide the woman’s request for a temporary restraining order imposed on Bauer to be made to more. long term.
When the Dodgers signed Bauer to a three-year, $ 102 million contract in February, they deliberately moved beyond his spiky personality, his reputation as a clubhouse cancer, his penchant for online bullying, his objectification of women. , and even his own assessment that he is good at two things: “throwing baseballs and pissing people off.”
Bringing in Bauer was a strange and greedy bet for a team that had just won the World Series. Already loaded with talent, Los Angeles wanted extra ammo for their quest to repeat as champion. Bauer, who won the 2020 National League Cy Young Award with Cincinnati before becoming a free agent, of course, seemed to deliver just that.
But as the team continued to improve in the second half of this grinding season, the Los Angeles star pitcher found himself sitting in front of a judge at the Stanley Mosk courthouse.
It was not a criminal trial intended to decide innocence or guilt. As a police investigation is still ongoing, such a procedure may or may not take place later. Instead, the hearing would decide whether to extend Bauer’s restraining order in June.
Bauer pleaded the fifth not to incriminate himself. But the testimony of his accuser was so disturbing that I will only give the shorthand.
She described being beaten, bruised and bloodied. She claimed that during sex, Bauer strangled her to the point that she passed out and was assaulted while she was unconscious.
Bauer’s attorney denied some of his claims, but described the encounter as rough sex to which the woman had consented. No aggression. The judge, believing that Bauer will not pose a threat to his accuser in the future, overturned the restraining order completely.
Bauer, however, continues to face serious consequences. Police in Pasadena, California, where the assault allegedly took place, are still investigating. The Los Angeles County District Attorney could still initiate criminal charges.
Major League Baseball placed Bauer on paid administrative leave shortly after the charges went public. Even if no criminal charges are laid, he can issue a long suspension depending on his domestic violence prevention policy, perhaps as long as a season or more.
Commissioner Rob Manfred’s response will tell us all we need to know about baseball’s priorities. Does he accept Bauer’s actions that night, consensual or not?
Does he take women who say they have been sexually assaulted seriously?
Does he have the courage to take a stand?
The night following the hearing, just three miles from the tense downtown courthouse, fans flocked to the temple of golden baseball known as Dodger Stadium.
At the start of the season, the game against the Mets was scheduled for the Trevor Bauer Bobblehead night. Then came the accusations of brutality. The Dodgers backed off. They stopped selling their new pitcher clothes in their team stores. The Bauer Bobblehead promotion has been replaced with a Clayton Kershaw T-shirt giveaway.
What timing. Kershaw has been the ace of the team for years. He is considered one of baseball’s most remarkable citizens, with an image of humility and righteousness. His foundation helps the poor and the vulnerable. For Dodgers fans, he can’t be wrong. In other words, he’s the anti-Trevor Bauer.
“He represents what the Dodgers are meant to be,” said one of the team’s longtime fans, Kevin Fernandez, as he waited for the game to start. “Bauer? He should never play for this team again. He shouldn’t have been here.
In July, when the Dodgers visited the White House to celebrate their 2020 World Series victory, President Biden spoke about the team’s deep meaning. “The Dodgers are much more than a baseball club,” he told a non-inclusion team assembly Bauer, who was absent because he was not on the championship squad. “They are a pillar of American culture and American progress.”
The president went to greet a small but important slice of Dodgers greats: play-by-play announcer Vin Scully. Sandy Koufax. Fernando Valenzuela.
“Above all,” he said, “the heart of Jackie Robinson. “
The Dodgers are not just any club. In the last century, they were at the forefront of civil rights in sport. Mythology has grown around them, passed down through decades of consistency: The Dodger Way, which means not only winning, but winning in style.
Bauer, 30, has always been a huge talent, but class has hardly been his calling card. One example among many: the time he responded to a student’s online criticism by repeatedly baiting and tagging her on social media. He’s savvy enough to know what would happen next: The student has faced days of brutal online attacks from his social media followers.
Another example: A Washington Post investigation recently revealed that an Ohio court granted a temporary restraining order against Bauer to a woman who says she was threatened by him in 2020 while playing for the Cincinnati Reds .
Bauer and his agents have denied the allegations.
His Los Angeles teammates have remained silent about his absence. They don’t seem to miss him or need him.
Not after last month when the horny Dodgers, as if contrite, traded for Washington Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer, a work star more than capable of filling Bauer’s shoes.
The team has been in tears ever since. They entered the game against the Mets following the San Francisco Giants for the best record in the NL West. They jumped on the Mets early and claimed a seventh straight victory.
Sitting in the inexpensive seats, I took note of the extra measure of the Kershaw jerseys – and how the stands were also speckled with Dodgers T-shirts and replica blue and white jerseys featuring the greats of the team of the past and the present.
Steve Garvey’s # 6. Justin Turner’s 10th. The 34 of Valenzuela.
Of course, Jackie Robinson is 42 years old.
I haven’t seen any fan wearing the Bauer’s 27.
He has so far been excised from the temple.