Bauer outage: suspended two years

Trevor Bauer

Bauer’s two-year suspension won’t ease his victims’ pain or his way back to baseball—and in that order.

In considering Trevor Bauer’s unprecedented two-season suspension Friday for violating MLB’s domestic violence protocols, under which he won’t be paid and the Dodgers will be off the hook for the rest of his salary, I can’t help harking back to something pointed out last August. That’s when Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Dianna Gould-Saltman lifted a temporary restraining order against the pitcher.

During the hearings preceding that lift, the victim in the case testified for twelve hours. Bauer’s legal team may have drawn some inconsistencies from her regarding secondary items, but as Cup of Coffee writer and former NBC Sports analyst Craig Calcaterra wrote then, they never discredited “the central claim that he assaulted her in horrible ways.”

Maybe that makes it harder for the accuser to recover any money from him in a civil suit. Maybe that makes a prosecutor less likely to bring a criminal claim against Bauer for fear of the case being difficult. But the central truth of this entire affair—the stuff that Major League Baseball will look to regarding Bauer’s behavior, irrespective of whether 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. (Emphasis added.)

This past February the 31-year-old righthander found himself off the purely legal hook, after Los Angeles County prosecutors decided not to press criminal charges against him. “Those words don’t say the evidence is false,” I wrote at the time, “as much as they say getting a criminal conviction at trial would be tougher than hitting an outside slider over the center field fence.”

The Dodgers knew Bauer was a mere misogynist when they signed him as a free agent in February 2021. “The Dodgers didn’t know Bauer would be accused of sexual assault,” writes Los Angeles Times columnist Dylan Hernández. “However, they knew he was always in some sort of trouble.

They knew how respected baseball people such as Kevin Towers and Terry Francona wanted nothing to do with him. They knew he sliced open his pitching hand repairing a drone.

They knew he threw a ball over the centerfield wall instead of handing it to the manager when he was taken out of a game. They knew of his online harassment campaign against a female college student . . . The question was never about whether Bauer would get into trouble; the question was about what kind of trouble he would get into.

But almost from the moment Bauer’s suspension was announced, defenders sprang up all around the social media universe to decry justice denied. He was cleared of all wrongdoing by a court of law! Well, not exactly. Wrongdoers aren’t always compelled to answer for their wrongdoing in the courts.

Employees from the most obscure clerk, warehouse worker, or line worker, to the highest-powered executives do get suspended and even fired from their jobs over wrongdoings that won’t get them into legal trouble at all, never mind prison time or fines. They are no less wrongdoings for lacking the weight of the law’s punishments.

Why would baseball suspend Bauer two full seasons if prosecutors decided they couldn’t get a criminal conviction against him? ESPN writers Alden Gonzalez and Jeff Passan asked and answered:

The standards in criminal and civil cases differ from those of a private business. The judge dissolving the temporary restraining order and declining to issue a permanent one does not absolve Bauer of liability within the joint policy. Neither does a prosecutor passing on pressing charges.

MLB’s imposed discipline is based on its own investigation, separate from the criminal proceedings. The league’s investigation into Bauer’s case lasted 10 months. Details about MLB’s findings have not been released, but the league’s investigators considered more than just the sexual assault allegations of the San Diego woman from last year. They looked into at least one other allegation, from an Ohio woman who sought a temporary restraining order against Bauer in June of 2020, details of which were reported by the Washington Post.

Hours after Bauer’s suspension was announced, the Post published a story about another Ohio woman who accused Bauer of choking her unconscious without consent during sex on multiple occasions over the course of a relationship that dated back to 2013. Bauer strongly denied those allegations, as he did the allegations by the other women. But the two Ohio women told the Post they cooperated with the league’s investigation, and we don’t know if others were involved as well.

What kind of sex you enjoy is irrelevant so long as it’s with a fellow human and under mutual, conscious consent. What you do while your partner is unconscious and thus unable to consent any further is very relevant when you’re being investigated formally after accusations of sexual assault, whether it’s a legal investigation or one by your employer.

There are those among Bauer’s defenders who raise the question as to why it should have been Bauer and not other known domestic violence violators to be hit with a hammer as heavy as the one with which he’s been hit. (Bauer said at once he’d appeal the suspension.) That’s not an unfair question.

Among others, Yankee relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman was suspended thirty games in 2016 for choking his girlfriend and possessing a firearm he fired into a wall. Then-Cubs infielder Addison Russell was suspended forty games in 2018—after the Cubs lost the National League wild card game—for beating his now-former wife. Braves outfielder Marcel Ozuna was suspended twenty games retroactively in November 2021 over what proved to be trying to choke his wife before throwing her against a wall and hitting her with the cast on his broken left hand.

Those were letting such crimes off the hook too easily, even allowing that those players “accepted responsibility” for their acts. But then free agent reliever Sam Dyson was suspended for the entire 2021 season after his former girlfriend accused him of rape, battery, and psychological abuse.

Some of Bauer’s defenders think commissioner Rob Manfred came down heaviest upon Bauer because Bauer’s been an outspoken critic of of Manfred’s administration in the past, before his sexual assault issues came forth. A very few of those defenders even implied Bauer’s entire domestic violence issue might have been ginned up as a way to try shutting him up.

Even Manfred isn’t that foolish. You’d have to have precisely the imaginative mind Manfred lacks to forge that kind of plot just to push a particulaly outspoken critic to one side. Even if you’re a commissioner who can be accused of abuse of power. But there is a way for Manfred to show he doesn’t care what his in-game critics say or think when it comes to certain very grave matters.

Get with the Major League Baseball Players’ Association and adjust the domestic violence protocol to allow for suspending any player found violating baseball’s domestic violence policy for one full season’s worth of games minimum from now on. I phrase it that way because they won’t all come forth before a season begins, as Dyson’s did.

The bad news is that even that won’t ease their victims’ pain. But it would send forth a more powerful affirmation that baseball suffers no domestic violence benignly and that, no, Bauer wasn’t just singled out for particular punishment, for any corresponding reason.

Bauer isn’t quite off the hook at last

Trevor Bauer

He may not face prospects of prison, but Trevor Bauer—shown in the visitors’ dugout at San Francisco’s Oracle Park—isn’t quite off the whole hook yet.

Please note very carefully the language of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office when announcing Trevor Bauer won’t face criminal charges in the sexual assault/domestic violence case that cost him half the 2021 season. “After a thorough review of all the available evidence,” the statement says, “including the civil restraining order proceedings, witness statements and the physical evidence, the People are unable to prove the relevant charges beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Those words mean Bauer simply won’t face a criminal prosecution, never mind that he doesn’t face the prospect of time behind bars. Those words don’t say the evidence is false as much as they say getting a criminal conviction at trial would be tougher than hitting an outside slider over the center field fence. But Bauer isn’t off the hook entirely, so far as the law and the courts are concerned.

He’s off the criminal hook, but the victim who obtained a temporary restraining order against him last June could still decide to hit back with a civil lawsuit. Such has happened in cases far more grave. Over a quarter century ago, a botched criminal murder trial didn’t prevent the family of one of O.J. Simpson’s victims from suing him and winning.

So far as Major League Baseball is concerned, Bauer could still face serious discipline from commissioner Rob Manfred, who isn’t bound by a lack of criminal charges from exercising baseball’s domestic violence policies and punishments. Neither are the Dodgers.

They may have said formally that they won’t comment publicly until MLB’s investigation is done, but it doesn’t mean they can’t cut ties with him when it’s done. They can terminate Bauer’s deal if he “fail[ed], refuse[d] or neglect[ed] 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.”

When Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Dianna Gould-Saltman lifted the original temporary restraining order, last August, you may remember, she ruled that Bauer’s victim was “not ambiguous about wanting rough sex in [their] . . . first encounter and wanting rougher sex in the second encounter.” But the victim was anything except ambiguous when testifying in court that she drew a line, in effect, between agreed-upon rough sex and unwanted assault.

I say again that you wish only that Gould-Saltman explained how the victim was supposed to keep making her boundaries clear, or to stop Bauer from crossing them further, when she was in dreamland after Bauer choked her unconscious with her own hair in the first place.

Bauer’s legal beagles mulcted inconsistencies from her then that spoke, as former NBC Sports analyst Craig Calcaterra wrote for Cup of Coffee at the time, “to secondary and surrounding matters—how she reacted to the assault—and not at all to the assault itself . . . What Bauer’s attorneys did not do at all was discredit the central claim that he assaulted her in horrible ways.”

Maybe that makes it harder for the accuser to recover any money from him in a civil suit. Maybe that makes a prosecutor less likely to bring a criminal claim against Bauer for fear of the case being difficult. But the central truth of this entire affair—the stuff that Major League Baseball will look to regarding Bauer’s behavior, irrespective of whether 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.

While baseball nation grappled with the Bauer ramifications, the Nationals found themselves facing a domestic violence issue when infielder Starlin Castro faced domestic violence charges but wasn’t yet suspended or even placed on “administrative leave.” Nats general manager Mike Rizzo made it as plain as a line single when talking to reporters then: “The process is the process. You asked the question, ‘Do I plan on having Starlin Castro back?’ and I said I do not plan on having him back.”

Rizzo even held a meeting with his players and laid down the law: “it’s unacceptable and it’s zero tolerance here and I don’t care how good of a player you are, it’s zero tolerance and we’re just not going to put up with it.” And they didn’t. The moment Castro was hit with a thirty-day suspension, the Nats said publicly they’d release him the moment his suspension ended. On 3 September they made good on that promise.

Nobody says the Dodgers are thrilled over Bauer’s misbehaviours, but it’s hard to forget team president Stan Kasten telling reporters what he advised manager Dave Roberts after Bauer was put on the first of his renewed administrative leaves last July: “I told him they’re going to talk about Trevor Bauer. Just say, ‘Can we please talk about foreign substances?'” That got nothing but a terrible look for the Dodgers and a public rebuke from Manfred.

The Dodgers haven’t yet said whether domestic violence is zero tolerance, they’re just not going to put up with it, they do not plan on having Bauer back, and as soon as they know whether Bauer will receive a full MLB suspension—whether it’s retroactive to time served on administrative leave or new time to serve—they’ll prepare his release for the moment the suspension officially expires.

Maybe it was easier for the Nats because Castro was almost at the end of a two-year deal when he got drydocked. Bauer is in the middle of a three-year deal, signed when the worst the Dodgers knew of him was that he was a mere misogynist. The Dodgers are on the hook for $32 million in 2022 and 2023 each, unless Bauer opts out at the end of the 2022 season and elects free agency. But Rizzo still looked far more decisive, and sounded far more emphatic, than the Dodgers have done so far.

“[Y]ou’ve heard me say it a million times, that [we prefer] you read about our guys in the Sports section and not the other sections,” Rizzo said amidst the Castro flap. “And this time we failed. I’m responsible for the players that I put on our roster and on the field.” That’s called owning it emphatically, and doing something about it decisively.

Businesses with or without public transmission can and do discipline employees often enough over off-the-job misconduct that won’t necessarily put them behind bars and isn’t half as grotesque, never mind abusive and injurious. There’s no such thing as an absolute, God-given “right” to particular employment in a particular business or profession.

A predilection for consensual rough sex is one thing. Each to his and her own. But punching an unconsious woman in the poontang and bruising her enough to require hospital attention, while she’s in no position to say yes, no, stop, or don’t-even-think-about-it, isn’t just unaligned to being a good citizen or sportsman. It’s unaligned to being human.

Could that someone be Max the Knife?

Max Scherzer

Scherzer’s stellar pitching has made possible the Dodgers leaving the Bauer embarrassment behind.

On Saturday, Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke called Trevor Bauer the biggest embarrassment in Dodgers history. Two days later, Plaschke’s fellow Times columnist Bill Shaikin called Max Scherzer cover for the Dodgers’ Bauer disaster.

Bauer’s 2021 season is over. With his legal status remaining in limbo, baseball’s government and the Major League Baseball Players Association decided it was the better part of valor that Bauer should remain on paid administrative leave through the end of the season.

“He will surely never pitch for the Dodgers again,” Plaschke wrote Saturday. “He may never pitch for anybody again. But the damage his brief presence wrought upon an organization built on strong community and smart baseball has been indelible.”

“[H]istory,” Shaikin wrote Monday, “seldom offers a silver lining more glistening than this: If Bauer is on the Dodgers’ roster, Max Scherzer is not.”

Signing Bauer last winter indicated only that the Dodgers were willing to gamble on a misogynist alone. Even vetting Bauer completely, the team couldn’t have foreseen his exposure as having crossed lines separating mere kink from downright abuse, making mere misogyny resemble virtuousness.

Dealing for Scherzer and shortstop Trea Turner from the Nationals at the trade deadline may yet make the Dodgers’ Bauer embarrassment the footnote to a footnote in their long and storied-enough history. Especially if the deal turns out to have made the postseason and the pennant possible.

It’s not that Turner has been useless, far from it. He’s had more than a few moments since he swapped Nationals for Dodgers fatigues. (For one thing, he’s now the only baseball player known to have almost moonwalked his way back up and out of a safe slide across the plate.) But he can’t begin to measure up to Scherzer’s impact.

Nobody can.

Nobody else could conceivably start eight straight games for a team and post a 0.88 ERA, a 1.26 fielding-independent pitching rate, five measly walks, and 72 strikeouts over those eight starts. Except maybe an uninjured Jacob deGrom, who actually did spend starts from 25 May through 1 July posting a 1.20 ERA, a 0.92 FIP, four measly walks, and 71 strikeouts.

But deGrom is more than a fair few seasons younger than Scherzer. DeGrom has slightly more than half of Scherzer’s lifetime 3,003 strikeouts. It would be foolhardy at best to predict that a day lurks in the future when deGrom will nail his 3,000th strikeout on the same day he pitches an immaculate inning and takes a perfect game into the eighth inning.

That’s what Max the Knife did Sunday. The Dodger Stadium crowd didn’t exactly pack the house, but it made noise enough that only a corpse on the Klingon home world couldn’t have heard it when Scherzer threw down and in on a full count and eluded Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer’s bat for the milestone swishout.

He pitches for a team that has an easier time keeping greatness on the mound from going unrewarded. Unlike deGrom, who pitches like a Hall of Famer for a team that knows how to snatch the proverbial defeat from the jaws of victory as often as not, the Dodgers have won every one of Scherzer’s eight starts since his arrival.

“None of Bauer’s teams,” Shaikin notes, “have won eight consecutive games in which he started.” That’s any eight consecutive starts, never mind the first eight he’s made with any of the four teams for whom he’s pitched.

(For those curious, this year the Mets did manage to win eight straight deGrom starts—but deGrom got win credit in only five of those games. On the other hand, one of his injury issues put a big time space between the first two of those starts. DeGrom’s ERA over those starts was four points lower than Scherzer’s over his first eight Dodger starts, and deGrom’s FIP was eleven points lower.)

Plaschke feared free agent-to-be Scherzer would be a rental only. But when Shaikin noted another future Hall of Famer, Clayton Kershaw, sitting a mere 347 strikeouts away from the Magic 3,000, he quoted Max the Knife about that: “Hopefully, I’m here, and able to watch his 3,000th as well.”

Could that have been a not-so-subtle hint that Scherzer would like nothing more than to stay in Dodger silks for the rest of his career? Could that have been a not-so-subtle suggestion that the Dodgers are thinking about the same thing as they begin to imagine a post-Bauer world for which Bauer bears the brunt of the blame?

Don’t even think about it: Merely because a judge denied a restraining order against Bauer regarding one of his victims, Bauer isn’t off the hook. Restraining order petitions address  feared future acts. They don’t deny or acquit known previous acts.

“[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,” wrote former NBC Sports baseball analyst Craig Calcaterra last month.

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.

Six days before the Dodgers pulled the trigger on the Scherzer trade, it became known widely enough that there wasn’t a Dodger to be found in the clubhouse who really wanted Bauer back among them.

Between that day and the day they landed Scherzer, the Dodgers fell from two to three games out of first in the National League West. They’re back to two and a half out of first with a few hiccups here and there, none of which involved Scherzer. But his one-for-the-books outing Sunday further exposed the upstart Padres (18.5 games out of first) as not ready for National League West prime time just yet.

Both Scherzer and Kershaw face free agency this winter unless the resources-rich Dodgers elect to stay their course with both pitchers. For Kershaw it would be keeping him in the only baseball family he’s known his entire career. For Scherzer it would be making sure he finishes his career with his fourth and final baseball family. Maybe with another World Series ring or two on his finger.

Remember: Enough of the world thought the Nationals made a huge mistake signing Scherzer to a long-term deal. Then Scherzer finished his Nats tenure with a) the most wins above replacement-level pitcher of any marksman during the life of the deal; b) struck more batters out than anyone else in the Show over the life of the deal; and, c) helped the Nats win an unforgettable World Series title.

Somewhere in there, Max the Knife also managed to win two of his three Cy Young Awards. Back-to-back while he was at it. He’s even in this year’s conversation as regards winning his fourth Cy Young Award.

After net results such as those, nobody would necessarily bet on the Dodgers just burning money if they elect to make Kershaw and Scherzer offers they can’t refuse to stay. Even four-year deals keeping them Dodgers for the rest of their baseball lives.

“Wasn’t it true,” Mario Puzo had Don Vito Corleone musing in The Godfather (the novel, not the film), “that sometimes the greatest misfortune brought unforeseen rewards?”

The Dodgers’ rewards are bound to be a lot happier with Scherzer aboard for his final acts than they’d be with even one more episode of the Bauer dope opera.

Bauer wins . . . nothing much, really

Trevor Bauer

Bauer in the shadows. He isn’t even close to being off the hook yet. Nor should he be.

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.

What took so long?

Trevor Bauer

Trevor Bauer waited as long to go on administrative leave for abuse as  Hector Santiago waited to get grounded ten days for actual/alleged naughty sauce. What’s wrong with that picture? Plenty.

Get caught with legal rosin mixing with your own natural sweat? You baaaaaad boy! No going out to play for you for ten days, Hector Santiago.

Take rough sex too far and leave a woman bruised, undergoing CT scans, and finally filing a restraining order against you this week, under penalty of perjury? You’re still starting in regular rotation, Trevor Bauer . . . on the Fourth of July. In Washington, yet.

At least, you were, until MLB did Friday what it should have done on Wednesday, when the details came forth, and put you on seven days’ administrative leave.

Until then, it looked as though Santiago took heavier immediate consequences for actual or alleged naughty sauce than Bauer did leaving a woman with head and facial trauma, a partial basilar skull fracture, and blood around where she accuses him of trying a back door slider while she was out cold and in no position to allow it.

You can run the entire history of professional baseball and find players disciplined quickly and heavily for behaviour a lot less grave that what Bauer’s accused of having done to the lady. But then you can also still find too many people learning about Babe Ruth’s penchant for partying with gangsters and hookers and thinking it’s still just part of the big lout’s appeal.

Maybe the Dodgers couldn’t discipline Bauer unilaterally at once, as Sports Illustrated‘s Stephanie Apstein noted Thursday afternoon. But there was no law saying manager Dave Roberts couldn’t decide to hand the ball to another pitcher to start in Bauer’s place, especially on the anniversary of a declaration saying we’re entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The pursuit of happiness isn’t supposed to leave a woman’s head resembling a boxing gym’s speed bag. Not even if she was looking for just a little rough and wild sex.

Unless I’ve been led down one or another primrose path, even a little rough and wild sex isn’t supposed to end in head and face trauma, a partial basilar skull fracture, and blood on the seat God provided the human anatomy. Compared to that, The Thrilla in Manila (Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier, the brutal Act III) was a dance contest.

Baseball’s domestic violence policy, Apstein reminded us, includes that baseball’s government can put an accused player on paid administrative leave up to seven days while investigating the accusations. MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association can extend that period by mutual agreement, she observes.

“Perhaps MLB is waiting until Sunday so as not to start the clock,” she continued. “If they wait, that would keep him out of action until after the All-Star Break. That may make sense legally. It is indefensible morally.”

These people are so consumed with technicalities that they can’t be bothered to do the right thing. “We are not going to start Trevor Bauer on Sunday.” Not “We are going to take away Trevor Bauer’s money.” Not “We are going to suspend him.” Not “We are going to release him.” Not “We are going to throw him in prison.” Just “We are not going to offer this man the privilege of striding out to a mound in front of tens of thousands of people who paid for a nice afternoon.”

Let’s remember the word “privilege.” That’s what playing professional, major league baseball is. It’s not a basic human right. You won’t find any clause in the Supreme Law of the Land declaring you have the absolute right to any particular line of work.

The document over whose anniversary baseball and the nation is about to make a red, white, and blue racket—the like of which probably hasn’t been seen in long enough, after last year’s pan-damn-ic rudely interrupted such things—doesn’t say, “We hold this truth further, that you have the right to your particular chosen job, period, no matter what criminal behaviour you might commit while thus employed.”

Apstein said commissioner Rob Manfred—a man who normally points the way to wisdom by standing athwart it—should have put Bauer on administrative leave immediately. She also said the Dodgers’ administration should have ordered Roberts to hand the Fourth of July ball to anyone but Bauer, instead of Roberts telling reporters he’s still giving Bauer the ball.

While she was at it, she zapped that brass for leaving Roberts out to answer press questions by himself.

“Instead,” Apstein continued, “fans of the Dodgers and of the sport and of civil society have to wait days to learn whether a man accused of breaking a woman’s skull will get to pitch on the Fourth of July in the nation’s capital.”

The Athletic‘s Dodgers reporter Fabian Ardaya tweeted Thursday afternoon that Roberts also said the team’s “direction” was to do nothing “until they get guidance from MLB.” Since when does a team need guidance from baseball’s government to just take the ball from one pitcher and hand it to another?

The Dodgers have their guidance now. It took only two days from The Athletic’s Brittany Ghiroli’s and Katie Strang’s running down the literally gory details in the restraining order filing to get it. It shouldn’t have taken that long.

MLB was still a little too slow on the proverbial uptake. So were the Dodgers. They should have gotten ahead of it and changed Fourth of July pitchers at minimum to open. This is a look about which “ugly” would be an understatement for the team half a game out of first in the National League West.

Why did Manfred and his office wait so long to put Bauer on administrative leave? When former Cubs shortstop Addison Russell was first accused of abuse against his then-wife in 2018, MLB put him on administrative leave at once. When Yankee pitcher Domingo German was accused likewise in 2019, MLB put him on administrative leave likewise.

Both were suspended in due course, but the players’ union approved extensions of the administrative leaves first. What on earth was the hesitation now?

The presumption of innocence? Legally, that’s in a court of law. Morally, you don’t surrender it when you remove a pitcher from duty whose mind is occupied by matters more grave than trying to sneak fastballs or breaking balls past Kyle Schwarber, Trea Turner, and Juan Soto on the Fourth of July.

“Would the union fight a similar extension with Bauer?” another Athletic writer, Ken Rosenthal, asked. Then, he answers at once: “Perhaps, if it believed the league was acting unfairly. The union, after all, exists to defend and assert the rights of the players. But based on the details in the domestic violence restraining order against Bauer, the union also might view a prolonged investigation into his conduct as warranted.”

Somehow, it’s still impossible to believe that a pitcher caught with his sweat mixing to legal rosin and ending up in his glove—which, by the way, MLB turned out not to have inspected—almost faced heavier immediate consequences than a player under legal restraining order over leaving a woman injured, feeling abused, and more than a little afraid.

“[H]ow ridiculous would it look for MLB to dock Santiago and not even buy time with Bauer, whose alleged offense is far more serious?” Rosenthal asked. “What exactly would Manfred’s trepidation be here?”

I’m still a little too trepiditious to ask. A baseball commissioner who’s already threatening to set records for terrible looks took two days to do what he had to do this time. “Terrible” isn’t the word for that look.