Bauer Outage: Suspended Two Years

In considering Trevor Bauer's unprecedented two-season suspension last 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 12 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 right-hander 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 40 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 20 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 particularly 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.

Comments and Conversation

May 6, 2022

Lenny :

I’m not saying Trever Bauer’s a good guy, and I assume that MLB has information that I do not, but I really have to take issue with a few points in this article. Particularly, with respect to the Calcaterra article, statements like “they never discredited the central claim that he assaulted her in horrible ways.” and “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” misses the essential point that they don’t need to discredit the claim that he bruised her or refute the idea that he had sex with her while unconscious. That’s the job of the accuser, not the accused. Put another way, it appears a court found that the accuser couldn’t prove that she didn’t ask to be struck by Bauer (bruises being the reasonable consequence of being struck). If she told him “I get so turned on by the thought of you smacking me around” would you fault Bauer for smacking her around? Similarly, the court didn’t find that the accuser could prove that Bauer anally raped her while she was unconscious. As you point out “What kind of sex you enjoy is irrelevant so long as it’s with a fellow human and under mutual, conscious consent.” So depending on what she asked for and whether she was conscious when she received it (2 things that we do not know), we can’t know if Bauer is at fault in any way.

Again, I’m not in any way defending Bauer, and I don’t know what additional information MLB has - but based on what I’ve read, and presuming that Bauer shouldn’t be punished unless we have a basis to think he at least “probably” he did something wrong - it seems to me that more information is needed to come to a conclusion on this.

May 7, 2022


Lenny—-I also pointed out, “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.”

When that restraining order was lifted, the judge found nothing except that Bauer was “no longer a danger” to that particular woman. It did not reject his past doings outright, including that he’d assaulted her (perhaps not by rape) while she was unconscious and thus unable to say no. Right or wrong, that judge only determined whether Bauer presented any future danger.

A Mafioso who decides for whatever reasons to leave the mob may no longer pose danger, too. But should that render him unaccountable for his past crimes?

May 19, 2022

Anthony Brancato:

After what almost happened to Tyreek Hill a couple of years back, MLB, the NFL, the NBA, and the NHL alike need to strictly adhere to an “innocent until proven guilty” policy - not only for the sake of the players involved, but also for the integrity of the game.

What if gamblers or other unsavory characters pay a “victim” to accuse a player of committing domestic violence or some similar crime? Then they go to Vegas or wherever and send it in on the opponent(s) of that team, and clean up.

The bottom line is that this is the United States of America, not the Third Reich or the Soviet Union - and in the good ol’ U.S. of A., presumptive guilt is a totally alien concept.

And where are the players’ unions in all this?

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