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THE BAUER TICKING BOMB EXPLODES ON DODGERS
Those who wondered why the World Series champions gambled on a loose cannon now have their ammunition: a woman alleging that Bauer assaulted her after they met on social media and had sex
They didn’t need to be greedy, blessed with more cachet and know-how than any team in baseball. They didn’t have to be reckless, with so much to gain as World Series champions and so much to lose as an American institution. But the Los Angeles Dodgers just had to throw $102 million at Trevor Bauer anyway, allowing impetuous management desires to swallow common life sense when his every smart-ass tweet and snarky whim suggested danger.
It took not half a season, three months into their dreamy encore, for that risk to spill like toxic waste into Chavez Ravine.
How perfectly pathetic that the clown prince of social media would find trouble on the Internet. It isn’t my place, nor yours, to decide today whether Bauer assaulted a woman last month in an allegation being investigated by police in Pasadena, Calif. What IS worthy of our judgment is how Bauer, after promising the Dodgers that he’d behave and respect the stately traditions of Jackie Robinson and Vin Scully and Clayton Kershaw and all the franchise legends, says he agreed to a relationship with a woman who propositioned him online and met him twice for sex at his Pasadena home — this according to Bauer’s agent, Jon Fetterolf.
And during those two occasions, says the agent, Bauer apparently wasn’t fazed when the woman sent him text messages ‘‘repeatedly asking for ‘rough’ sexual encounters involving requests to be ‘choked out’ and slapped in the face.’’ Said Fetterolf, in a statement: ‘‘Mr. Bauer had a brief and wholly consensual sexual relationship initiated by (the woman) beginning in April 2021. Any allegations that the pair’s encounters were not 100% consensual are baseless, defamatory, and will be refuted to the fullest extent of the law. … In both of their encounters, (the woman) drove from San Diego to Mr. Bauer’s residence, where she went on to dictate what she wanted from him sexually and he did what was asked.’’
Rough sex happens in everyday life, I understand. Athletes can be scummy horndogs, I get it. But when a sports figure of Bauer’s prominence signs with a storied organization, in a bright-lights market where lawyers and celebrity media are crawling, he must be extremely cautious about dalliances. Clearly, he was not, which constitutes a disaster in and of itself for Bauer, the Dodgers and Major League Baseball, a sport that can’t survive a day without another crisis and now must investigate Bauer.
And if the woman is telling the truth that she ‘‘suffered severe physical and emotional pain’’ in the “assault’’ — that she was scared enough to obtain a restraining order against him in L.A. County Superior Court — this becomes a historic scandal that scars the Dodgers’ legacy. It also would beg a question: What in the hell would possess them to gamble on such a freak?
‘‘Our goal is to keep Mr. Bauer from contacting our client in any way possible,’’ said Marc Garelick, the accuser’s attorney. ‘‘We anticipate there will be criminal action against Mr. Bauer, and it is our hope law enforcement will take our client's allegations and case seriously."
If charges are filed, a Dodgers season already challenged by injuries and inconsistency will turn chaotic. When baseball boss Andrew Friedman signed Bauer to essentially three one-year deals in the offseason, with a push from Guggenheim Baseball money man Mark Walter, he knew of Bauer’s turbulent past. This included disturbing online behavior: harassment of women, mocking of transgender people, spreading of conspiracy theories (about Barack Obama and George Soros) and general bullying. Friedman was undaunted, reaching deep in his rationalization bag to say: ‘‘In our conversations, he’s alluded to past mistakes he’s made. And you know what? We’re all going to make mistakes. What’s important for me is how we internalize it, what our thoughts are going forward. It was important to have that conversation, and we came away from it feeling good about it.’’
How are the bosses feeling now? The team said it was ‘‘made aware of the allegations … and immediately contacted Major League Baseball, which will be handling the matter. The Dodgers take any allegations of this nature very seriously but will have no further comment at this time." As baseball men, they’ll whisper that they’re fortunate to have signed Bauer amid so many health issues, that he projects bullishly with Kershaw and Walker Buehler in a formidable October rotation threesome. And after a two-game sweep of the Giants — with 52,342 fans packing Dodger Stadium on Tuesday night despite new local concerns about the Delta variant of the coronavirus — perhaps Friedman and manager Dave Roberts only care about the 49-31 record, tied for second-best in the majors. But they shouldn’t delude themselves. Bauer’s smooth season recently hit speed bumps after MLB cracked down on foreign substances, prompting his spin rate to drop dramatically in recent weeks. Is he a flaming hypocrite, using illegal goop while calling out other pitchers for cheating?
No matter how the legal case transpires, no matter how the season turns out, the Trevor Bauer gamble just became a debacle. He is, simply, a shock punk who wandered too far into the flame. Two years ago, in a Sports Illustrated profile that quickly is gaining traction, he defined his three rules in a hookup relationship: ‘‘One: no feelings. As soon as I sense you’re developing feelings, I’m going to cut it off, because I’m not interested in a relationship and I’m emotionally unavailable. Two: no social media posts about me while we’re together, because private life stays private. Three: I sleep with other people. I’m going to continue to sleep with other people. If you’re not O.K. with that, we won’t sleep together, and that’s perfectly fine. We can just be perfectly polite platonic friends.”
The Dodgers signed him anyway.
Wonder what Vin is thinking?
Jay Mariotti, called ‘‘the most impacting Chicago sportswriter of the past quarter-century,’’ writes sports columns for Substack and a Wednesday media column for Barrett Sports Media while appearing on some of the 1,678,498 podcasts in production today. He’s an accomplished columnist, TV panelist and radio talk host. Living in Los Angeles, he gravitated by osmosis to film projects. Compensation for this column is donated to the Chicago Sun-Times Charity Trust.