The Dodgers purge Bauer at last

Trevor Bauer

Bauer’s a former Dodger at last. Would another team chance surviving his baggage and its justifiable blowback?

Almost the full two weeks from his suspension’s lifting were needed for the Dodgers to declare Trevor Bauer persona non grata in their colours. Notwithstanding a wi-fi disruption and power outage in Dodger Stadium causing its further delay Friday, the team announced they designated Bauer for assignment. Even those who believe the Dodgers did the right if delayed thing at last can’t and shouldn’t claim to be happy about this entire business.

There’s nothing happy about what one woman testifying under oath said was his bruising her after she fell unconscious and thus unable to extend any further consent. There’s nothing happy about two other women saying he’d taken rough sex too far and into plain assault upon them, too. There’s nothing happy about Bauer jeopardising if not ending a major league pitching career because his sport determined he violated its domestic violence policy.

In that order.

Arbitrator Martin Scheinman cut Bauer’s original suspension from 324 to 194 games. Even at 194 games, it remains the longest suspension yet under baseball’s seven-year-old-plus policy, and Bauer remains the only player disciplined under the policy to appeal his suspension. Baseball’s government investigated as thoroughly as conceivable before imposing the original suspension.

The Dodgers, we thought, had time enough during the suspension to decide it was time to mop the egg off their faces and let Bauer go whenever the suspension might end. We know by way of USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale that, after Scheinman reduced the suspension late last month, the Dodgers tried to find a trading partner willing to take Bauer off their hands first.

Assuming there is a team immune enough to outrage to take Bauer on willingly, such a team would likely prefer waiting for Bauer to clear waivers (it takes seven more days), then sign him to the major league minimum salary. Leaving the Dodgers still required to pay the rest of Bauer’s salary, minus the fifty games worth Scheinman docked him when lifting the suspension.

The Dodgers won’t “eat” what they still owe him. They swallowed and digested that dinner when they signed Bauer in the first place. (His original contract, like all MLB contracts, was guaranteed unless he exercised either of two opt-outs, chances his suspension denied him.) Paying him seven figures to beat it is child’s play compared to all the other head and heartaches Bauer inflicted.

Well before he was suspended by MLB, the Dodgers resembled due diligence failures for signing him despite a too-well-evidenced image as a misogynistic man no matter how good he was as a pitcher. We hark back to Dodger president of baseball operations Andrew Friendman, speaking after the Dodgers signed Bauer after the pan-damn-ically shortened 2020 season, during the press conference introducing Bauer as a Dodger. “[W]e’re all gonna make mistakes,” he said.

What’s important for me … is how we internalize it, and what our thoughts are about it going forward. From our standpoint, it was important to have that conversation. And we came away from it feeling good about it. Now, obviously, time will tell. But I feel like he is going to be a tremendous add, not just on the field but in the clubhouse, in the community, and that’s obviously why we’re sitting here.

Time, alas, told an awful lot more than Friedman or the team imagined. They chose to believe Bauer learned from prior, mere misbehaviours. He made them resemble fools. Not quite as profoundly as NFL quarterback Deshaun Watson makes the Cleveland Browns look, with 24 sexual misconduct suits against him, twenty of which were settled confidentially. But horrifying enough.

ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez cited one unnamed player agent saying “nobody’s touching” Bauer now but another unnamed player agent saying, discomfitingly, “I think there will be teams that will at least be interested.” Gonzalez also notes an unnamed team executive saying the challenge of taking Bauer on would be “unique.”

As he described, it isn’t just the stain on an organization’s reputation or the backlash from its fans or the general negativity that would surround it — it’s that Bauer hasn’t shown an ounce of contrition throughout this process. In fact, he has taken the opposite approach, fighting every allegation vehemently.

“If you sign someone with that type of baggage,” one agent noted, “you have to walk him through the reclamation tour. And I don’t think he’s coachable for that.”

Bauer himself released a statement after the Dodgers announced his DFA, posted first by the Los Angeles Times‘s Bill Shaikin:

While we were unable to communicate throughout the administrative leave and arbitration process, my representatives spoke to Dodgers leadership immediately following the arbitration decision.

Following two weeks of conversations around my return to the organization, I sat down with Dodgers leadership in Arizona yesterday who told me they wanted me to return and pitch for the team this year.

While I am disappointed by the organization’s decision today, I appreciate the wealth of support I’ve received from the Dodgers clubhouse. I wish the players all the best and look forward to competing elsewhere.

“There is zero chance whatsoever,” Craig Calcaterra of Cup of Coffee tweeted in response, “that anyone with actual decision-making authority with the Dodgers told Trevor Bauer, yesterday, that they wanted him back.” Indeed. “Dodger officials declined to go into details of their conversation,” Nightengale has written since, “but privately revealed that they didn’t hear any remorse, apologies or anything in the slightest from Bauer to change their mind.”

Gonzalez cited another unnamed team executive saying, “Some teams will just take the arm, and they’ll deal with the blowback later.” Too many have done that, in baseball and other sports. They forget playing professional sports is a privilege they can revoke for moral as well as performance cause. They forget athletes’ rights (indeed, responsibilities) to rehabilitate and redeem themselves don’t carry automatic rights to do it under their umbrellas.

They forget what Gonzalez and his ESPN colleague Jeff Passan observed when Bauer was hit with the original 324-game suspension in the first place: “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 [domestic violence] policy. Neither does a prosecutor passing on pressing charges.”

They get their tails waxed in the public mind, in the press, and aboard the social media scrawl for forgetting the common good of their games doesn’t end on the scoreboard or at the bank.

Those are the parts the Nationals must have understood, without having to say so, during the 2021 season, when faced with veteran infielder Starlin Castro’s suspension for violating baseball’s domestic abuse policy. They said they’d cut Castro loose when his suspension concluded. They did just that. Castro’s full suspension was fifteen percent of what Bauer ultimately served. The Nats looked as decisive as the Dodgers didn’t look.

What time told Friedman and the Dodgers also, and especially, includes just the first known of Bauer’s victims, testifying during hearings to decide a restraining order against him. And, as Calcaterra observed, reiterating—without one word spoken by Bauer’s legal team trying to refute or discredit it—her number one charge: 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.

That, and the scars upon her psyche, are the parts no formal discipline can undo.

When will it be “practical” to decide about Bauer?

Trevor Bauer

The Dodgers must decide whether to re-admit pitcher Trevor Bauer after what’s still the longest suspension a player’s served for violating baseball’s domestic abuse/sexual assault/child abuse policy.

From the moment Trevor Bauer’s suspension was lifted, I’ve waited for the Dodgers—who said when informed of the lifting that they would comment “as soon as practical”—to decide when it would be practical. Almost twelve days later, I’m still waiting.

At which point, I wonder along with (I’m sure) scores of others, would a team with omelette all over its face over a player signing that turned upside down from the player’s own doings decide it was “practical” to be done with them, and him?

Bauer was suspended, recall, for violating the joint policy on domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse to which baseball’s government and the Major League Baseball Players Association agreed in 2015. That was after Bauer missed 99 games on paid administrative leave in 2021.

The original suspension was 324 games. Bauer appealed, and arbitrator Martin F. Scheinman reduced it to 194. Essentially, Scheinman called it time served. It still remains the longest such suspension served under the policy. Longer than the single full season for which then-Twins relief pitcher Sam Dyson was suspended over domestic violence against his former girlfriend.

The Dodgers were handed fourteen days to decide whether to keep or cut Bauer. Surely Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke wasn’t the only one to say, “It should only take them fourteen seconds.” They had far longer than that to think and plan for the prospect of Bauer’s reinstatement. They may yet use the entire 1,209,600 seconds worth to decide.

That would satisfy the contingency to whom Bauer is actually innocent on no grounds further than that the Los Angeles County District Attorney elected against filing criminal charges against the righthander almost a year ago. That contingency won’t be satisfied fully, alas, until Bauer is suited up in a Dodger uniform again.

But it’s worth a reminder that electing not to file such charges doesn’t mean “not guilty,” it means only that the D.A.’s office believed getting a criminal conviction would be difficult, not that it believed the evidence was false or non-existent. It’s also worth a reminder that the MLB/MLBPA joint policy enables baseball’s commissioner to suspend players believed or found violating the policy regardless of any criminal charges, court trial, or trial conviction.

The commissioner’s office investigated Bauer starting in 2021, after a San Diego woman accused him of taking rough sex far too far into assault during two encounters and obtained a restraining order against Bauer that was lifted in due course. But almost a year ago, two other women told the Washington Post they, too, had been victimised by Bauer while taking rough sex too far into assault; hence, the suspension.

When the first victim’s restraining order was lifted, it followed hearings in which Bauer’s attorneys isolated inconsistencies in her based on secondary items, but—as Cup of Coffee writer Craig Calcaterra observed—the woman’s central claim of terrible assault wasn’t discredted even once.

“[T]he 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,” Calcaterra wrote.

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.)

After Scheinman ended the suspension, Calcaterra tweeted, “[W]hen Bauer fanboys try to claim his reinstatement as some sort of victory or vindication, remember: Bauer has been adjudged to be the worst sexual assault offender in Major League Baseball in the era of the Joint Policy. Worse than anyone else.”

Before the Dodgers signed him to a three-year, $102 million contract as a free agent, Bauer was merely problematic and known concurrently as a misogynist. It should have put the Dodgers into more powerful due diligence mode when pondering his signing. Such a failure puts one in mind of Hall of Fame manager Whitey Herzog’s observation (in You’re Missin’ a Great Game), “Does a [player] with personal problems and holes in his game merit that kind of money? . . . Off the field, will his PR kick you in the ass?”

Bauer’s PR has kicked the Dodgers in the ass, the head, the spine, and the stomach,  several times over. They may have a genuine baseball need to bring him back to their pitching staff, but they have a far more serious human need not to bring him back.

It’s grotesque enough when a ballplayer loses it after a bad game or a bad season and takes it out violently (physical, psychological, both) on his wife or significant other. What should we call it when a player faces domestic violence discipline not because he lost his temper but because he didn’t know or care where the line between consent and abuse is drawn when practising rough sex?

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. 

Bauer’s deal would pay him $32 million for 2023 regardless of whether he suits up to pitch for the Dodgers, minus fifty games’ pay Scheinman docked him when ending the suspension. “By releasing him,” Plaschke wrote, “they will owe him his final year’s salary minus those fifty games, but it will be the best $22.5 million they ever spent.”

It would also begin sending two long overdue messages. One is the message that the common good of the game can’t stop at making money for or in it. The other is the message not sent when players suspended under the domestic abuse/sexual assault/child abuse policy are readmitted to their teams, or signed by new teams, without more than perfunctory, boilerplate apologies:

If you’re a domestic or sexual or child abuser, you’ve lost your place in major league baseball. Such a place is a privilege, not a God-given right. Now, you have every right and every responsibility, especially, to atone for your abuse[s]. You have every right and every responsibility, especially, to rehabilitate yourself as a man, as a human being, and to earn your keep anew. You’ll deserve every credit on earth for doing that if you do. Your chance simply can’t happen in baseball any longer.

As of midnight tonight, the Dodgers will have 259,200 seconds to decide. It adds up to about 1,209,599 seconds more than they should have had to decide.

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.