Read very carefully. Under MLB’s formal domestic violence policy, commissioner Rob Manfred can still discipline Dodger pitcher Trevor Bauer. Even if a woman accusing him of taking consensual rough sex into non-consensual territory was denied a permanent restraining order Thursday. Even if no criminal charges end up being filed.
Bauer’s been on paid administrative leave since 2 July. The leave was extended yet again, with full agreement between MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association, this time through 27 August. With Pasadena police still investigating—criminal charges remain a distinct possibility—and Manfred’s office doing likewise, it’s fair to assume Bauer won’t pitch again this season.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dianna Gould-Saltman agreed that “injuries as shown in the photographs” the woman’s legal team provided of her aftermath from Bauer encounters “are terrible.” The judge went on: “If she set limits and he exceeded them, this case would’ve been clear. But she set limits without considering all the consequences, and respondent did not exceed limits that the petitioner set.”
I seem to remember the victim saying it was one thing to have a mutually brutal round of rough sex with Bauer but it was something else again for him to keep it up when she was out cold. Unless I’m very wrong, when you’re out cold or sound asleep you can’t exactly say “yes” to something, anything, competently or with knowledge. You don’t need to be a legal beagle to know that.
“At the moment,” tweeted Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, “MLB and police investigations continue, with focus not on whether Bauer should be restrained from contacting accuser going forward, but on whether previous conduct alleged by accuser merits criminal charges and/or MLB suspension.”
Sheryl Ring, an attorney who devotes a considerable amount of her time to watching and analysing baseball, writes that—pace his social media sycophancy crowing that he beat the rap and should be back on the mound post haste—the only thing Bauer really won Thursday was the right not to be blocked from contacting the lady in question in the future.
He’s not even close to being off the hook for what he did to her in the past. Yet.
Ring agrees the lady and her legal team tripped over themselves a few times during the hearings, particularly over the consent issue. “You can lose a case on an inaccurate statement in a sworn pleading, even on a collateral issue, and that clearly weighed heavily on the judge here,” she writes. “Finally, they elected not to have their expert witness testify on the issue of consent even after briefing the issue and winning that briefing, which I think was also a mistake.”
But Gould-Saltman also made a crucial mistake in her ruling, Ring continues:
Right after saying at the beginning of her ruling that future harm was not necessary to the issuance of a restraining order, she talked about how there was no need for a restraining order because there was no risk of future harm. She also, in my opinion, incorrectly applied the law of consent when it came to this line:
If she set limits and he exceeded them, this case would’ve been clear. But she set limits without considering all the consequences, and respondent did not exceed limits that the petitioner set.
Given a phone call was played in which Bauer admitted to punching the petitioner whilst she was unconscious, what the court stated is an incorrect statement of the law. You cannot give consent to anything when unconscious. In my opinion, that’s reversible error and grounds for a potentially meritorious appeal.
If Gould-Saltman could rule the lady didn’t make her boundaries “clear,” perhaps the judge would like to explain how she was supposed to keep making them clear, or to stop Bauer from crossing the line further when she was in dreamland—when she was in dreamland in fact after Bauer choked her unconscious with her own hair—while he crossed that line.
One of the worst-kept secrets throughout this entire disgrace is that there may be no one in a Dodger uniform who wants Bauer back with the team no matter how well he pitched before 2 July. The Dodgers themselves have legal recourse to rid themselves of him.
The standard, uniform player’s contract includes 7(b)1: they can terminate Bauer’s deal if he “fail[s], refuse[s] or neglect[s] to conform his personal conduct to the standards of good citizenship and good sportsmanship or to keep himself in first-class physical condition or to obey the club’s training rules.”
Paragraph 7(b)1 isn’t exactly an obscure or a previously-unapplied contract clause. When pitcher Denny Neagle got caught soliciting a woman for oral sex in 2004, the Rockies invoked the clause to terminate his five-year, $51 million deal. (Neagle missed pitching in 2004 due to ligament and elbow injuries.)
The players association filed a grievance in that case and it was settled in due course with the Rockies paying about 7/8ths of Neagle’s 2004 salary. Neagle’s marriage ended over the incident; he signed a deal with Tampa Bay for 2005 but didn’t pitch because of elbow issues and subsequently retired.
The Dodgers stand on far more solid ground if they elect to terminate Bauer’s deal with them. If they want to invoke 7(b)1 and cite MLB’s domestic violence policy, all they have to do, as Ring points out, is ask MLB’s permission—and if it’s permission denied, the Dodgers can do it anyway.
A man who likes his sex on the rough side and a lady who wants it likewise from and with him are merely kinky, in politest possible terms. A man who’d choke her out cold, then take her from the rear and punch her between the legs, is beyond mere depravity.
“This is, by far, the most serious case yet for MLB of an alleged violator, and it’s not close,” Ring writes.
No other person was accused of multiple violations against multiple victims. No other case . . . had this much court evidence. No other alleged violator so dramatically attacked their accusers in the press, either. The longest suspensions ever meted out for violations of the domestic violence policy were to Sam Dyson (a full season) and Jose Torres (100 games); as horrifying as the allegations were in those cases, this is somehow worse than both of those cases, and it’s not close. Notably, in none of the other domestic violence cases were multiple orders of protection sought by multiple people against the same player.
The last alludes to the revelation from the Washington Post, last week, that an Ohio woman also sought a restraining order against Bauer in 2020. She, too, accused Bauer of punching and choking her without consent during sex. Some winner.
Bauer prevailed regarding the restraining order in California, Ring writes, “by arguing that he is so dangerous that a woman who agrees to have sex with him assumes the risk of being harmed when doing so. And he made a great spectacle of dragging through the mud the woman he admits to having punched whilst she was unconscious.” Some model citizen.
Ring may not be the only legal-minded, legal-oriented baseball analyst to think it’s not out of the question that Manfred might consider suspending Bauer for two years. Effectively, that would wipe him out as a Dodger, since his current deal has two more seasons to go.
Practically, it might end Bauer’s life as a major league pitcher, period. But that would assume no other team would even think about plighting its troth to a man for whom women are little more than playthings with targets on their lady parts. We’ve known only too well what happens when you [ass][u][me].
“The inconsistencies Bauer’s attorneys elicited from the accuser spoke to secondary and surrounding matters — how she reacted to the assault — and not at all to the assault itself,” writes Craig Calcaterra, formerly an NBC Sports baseball analyst now writing the newsletter Cup of Coffee.
The text messages show a person who is at turns confused, angry, sad, depressed, or desiring vengeance, but those are all understandable feelings for a person in her situation to have. What Bauer’s attorneys did not do at all was discredit the central claim that he assaulted her in horrible ways.
. . . [T]he central truth of this entire affair — the stuff that Major League Baseball will look to regarding Bauer’s behavior, irrespective of whether [criminal] charges are brought — points pretty clearly to Bauer doing exactly what his accuser said he did. Everything else is secondary.
After 12 hours of testimony, his accuser said, under oath, “I did not consent to bruises all over my body that sent me to the hospital and having that done to me while I was unconscious.” There was zero evidence presented which explained how those bruises appeared in a way that was benign or refuted the idea that the woman was unconscious when Bauer inflicted them. That, in my mind, is all that matters.
Small wonder Brewers pitcher Brett Anderson could and did tweet, “Crazy to think that I could never get anyone out ever again and still feel better about my career than Trevor Bauer’s.” Indeed it is better to surrender six runs in three and a third innings than to be known for abusing women, violently or otherwise.