Mere days after I wrote about the penchant of accused athletes to find a friendly face in the sportswriting community to help them rehab their image among the mouth-breathers in the fandom, Trevor Bauer offered himself up as Exhibit A, launching his own redemption tour in a nakedly desperate attempt to get back in Major League Baseball.
When we last checked in on Bauer, he was busy upsetting his Japanese teammates and holding court on the internet about his victimhood shortly after his defamation suit against one of the women accusing him of sexual assault, resulting in both sides dropping their claims against the other. This caused large groups of men with little-to-no understanding of civics or the criminal justice system, to believe that Bauer had been declared innocent and to loudly proclaim it to anyone criticizing Bauer. Somewhere in there, Mookie Betts gave Bauer a shout-out of support, for reasons not really understood by anyone.
Now, Bauer has decided he would like to pitch in MLB again, and he wants us to believe that his agents have been in contact with multiple teams. I believe that Bauer’s agents have been in contact with various MLB teams. I do not, however, believe that there is a single team in MLB that would consider signing Bauer. Because despite Bauer’s 180 on personal responsibility (more on that in a minute), it’s obvious to anyone paying attention that Bauer still does not believe he did anything wrong, which is what he’d been saying all over the internet until he appeared on FOX Newsroom on Thursday.
In 2022, Bauer was suspended by MLB, after an investigation into allegations of sexual assault and battery made against him my a San Diego woman, for 324 games (later reduced to 194 games) — the longest suspension ever handed down by Rob Manfred under the league’s domestic violence and sexual assault policy. To date, four women have accused Bauer of similar behavior, including choking them during sex and, in at least one case, punching a victim repeatedly in the genitals. Bauer has loudly and adamantly denied any wrongdoin, and was never charged with any crimes. Bauer sued one of the women for defamation, which was dropped as part of the previously-mentioned civil settlement, and sued this publication for reporting on it, and lost.
Now, Bauer is apparently trying a different approach, one in which he assumes responsibility for things that have nothing to do with why he’s no longer pitching in Major League Baseball. Here’s some of what Bauer told FOX:
“I made a lot of people in the media mad. I was very immature with how I handled things when people would write things about me that I didn’t agree with. I should’ve just had a private, adult conversation with someone. I was bullied a lot as a kid, I don’t really want to get into that, but at the time, I viewed a lot of my responses on social media as standing up for myself and having a voice. And I think that was just immature. I’ve grown up a lot for sure.
“I know that I’ve made mistakes. That’s kinda what I’m trying to focus on. How do I get better from the experiences that I’ve had? I’ve made mistakes in my personal life. I’m really detail-oriented when it comes to baseball and my training, but I didn’t apply the same level of scrutiny to my personal life.
“I made mistakes. I agreed to do things I shouldn’t have done. I was reckless. It hurt a lot of people along the way. I made things very difficult for Major League Baseball, for the Dodgers, my teammates, my friends, family, people close to me.”
Bauer also went on to say he’s grown up and is no longer having casual sex.
So, a few things jump right out. First, Bauer, who is about to turn 33, was not a teenager when he was accused of assaulting women. He was a fully grown adult man. We’re not talking about someone too young to know better or whose impulse control wasn’t fully developed. In the case of the San Diego accuser, Bauer would have been 30 at the time of the alleged assault.
Second, Bauer is doing that thing where he apologizes over and over for his “mistakes” and “things I shouldn’t have done,” but never actually says what those mistakes are. Of course, he’s acting on the advice of his lawyers, who don’t want him to incriminate himself or give any of his victims fodder to sue, but what’s the point of an apology if the perpetrator only hints at the reason he’s sorry?
Finally, Bauer seems to be of the opinion that the reason he is playing baseball in Japan — and not, say, Anaheim — is that he was immature and made a lot of people in the media mad. Those things, along with casual sex, are things no one cares about and have nothing to do with why Bauer hasn’t been picked up by any organization. And, in case it’s not clear, the media reported on the allegations against Bauer because they were credible and newsworthy, not because Bauer made people in the media angry. These days, most sportswriters are so slammed with multiple assignments that they don’t have time to indulge their personal revenge fantasies.
As for being bullied in school, well, that’s hardly an excuse for allegedly beating and assaulting women. Many of us, including yours truly, were bullied in school and manage to go through life without being accused of criminally violent behavior. And, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that, even before the allegations of sexual assault came to light, teams were leery of Bauer because of his reputation for online harassment and bullying. If there was one thing Bauer seemed to like as much as pitching, it was punching down online.
And while Bauer would have us all believe that his “mistakes,” whatever those may be, were simply born out of recklessness and immaturity, the testimony of the sexual assault nurse who treated Bauer’s initial accuser hints at something much darker.
Kelly Valencia, a forensic nurse examiner who had been called by the woman’s legal team to testify about her injuries, said she administered a Sexual Assault Response Team exam, or SART exam, to the woman in May.
“I had never seen that before,” Valencia told the court, describing “red and purple” bruising around the woman’s genitals.
“It was frankly alarming,” she said.
The allegations made against Bauer, that he became violent in the midst of consensual sex, ignored his victims’ pleas to stop, and choked at least one of his victims unconscious, are not acts of immaturity or recklessness or even bullying. Sexual assault, more than anything else, is about the desire to dominate, to humiliate and to control. Those are things I haven’t heard Bauer discuss, and I would venture a guess he probably hasn’t thought about them very much. Because with Bauer still staunchly proclaiming his innocence to the Twitter masses not long ago, it’s difficult to imagine he’s completely come around to understanding his alleged behavior. And when he can’t even articulate what he’s apologizing for, it makes the apology hard to take seriously.
I’d like to think that we will never see the likes of Bauer in American baseball again, but I’ve been following the sport too long to be that naive. But to any teams considering signing Bauer, I’d ask them to think about what will happen to their organization if a fifth, sixth or seventh alleged victim comes forward? Does anyone really want to contend with the media firestorm Bauer potentially brings their way? Is anything really bigger than sports?
I hope so.
If you’ve been sexually assaulted and need help, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673), or visit RAINN.com to chat live with an advocate.