Content warning: This article will be discussing details of domestic violence and sexual assault.
In the past week, baseball fans have seen MLB commissioner Rob Manfred preach about ways he wants to improve the game, and doubles down on ways to enforce the ban on foreign substances, regardless of how the league’s pitchers and fans think it should be changed. He has been preaching for months about the same thing, just a week ago saying, “we are moving the game in the right direction.”
With this considered, you would think a commissioner with this mindset and care of how the game is perceived, would take all actions to protect it. We have seen nothing farther from that expectation following the allegations that have come out against Dodgers pitcher, Trevor Bauer.
On Monday, a temporary domestic violence restraining order was executed against Bauer, and extensive details of his victim’s account of events were reported by The Athletic on Wednesday. New photos from court documents show the 27-year-old victim’s face bruised and swollen following the alleged incident of consensual sex turned to alleged abuse. Some of the accusations being made against Bauer include him punching her in the face, buttocks, vagina, and choking her to points of unconsciousness. The victim’s attorney said the two encounters shared between Bauer and his alleged victim resulted in “significant head and facial trauma,” which included the victim seeking medical attention for a potential skull fracture. At one point, the victim details being unconscious, waking up to the taste of blood, and the realization that Bauer was anally penetrating her, something she had not consented to, saying: “I agreed to have consensual sex; however, I did not agree or consent to what he did next … I did not agree to be sexually assaulted.” I will not divulge every single detail here, but I urge you to read the linked articles, just to get a grasp of the gravity of this situation.
Bauer has a hearing on July 23, at which point he and his attorney have said they will be refuting the claims made by the victim.
However, the nature of these graphic and quite frankly, sickening allegations do not stop there. This now shifts to MLB and the Dodgers organization’s role in the handling of the situation. Spoiler alert: there have been zero actions taken from either party. On June 27, Seattle Mariners pitcher Hector Santiago was caught with a sticky foreign substance on a game ball, resulting in his ten-game suspension brought about just two days later. There was an immediate reaction to the rule-breaking, and it seemed quite evident the suspension was coming based on the newly outlined rules. There has been none of this for Bauer. At what point is Manfred concerned about “improving” the game, when he allows players like Bauer the privilege of gracing a Major League Baseball field? Bauer has about three weeks until his trial, and if MLB or the Dodgers have any respect for the nature of these allegations, they would at least place him on some type of leave until then. The MLB and the Dodgers’ job is not to convict Bauer or conclude if he is guilty or not, but it is each parties’ duty to at least hold themselves and one of the highest-paid players in the league accountable. Stand for something, take it seriously, and expect Bauer to do the same. It is counter-productive and hypocritical for Manfred to make foreign substances a death to the game if a player that heavily represents the league gets to make a mockery of it because he has no punishment for his actions. With the degree of these allegations and the presence that Bauer has, you do not get to distinguish his on-the-field actions from off-the-field. This is a moral issue that has no resolve by MLB or the Dodgers.
Today, Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts said Bauer is still expected to make his 4th of July start this Sunday, and said the situation is “out of their hands.” If the Dodgers had any sense as an organization, they would make sure Bauer is held accountable, whether Manfred wants to act on the situation or not. The situation is simply not out of their hands. The Dodgers also have a previous history of dismissing sexual assault, most notably including a 2015 incident involving current San Francisco Giants manager, Gabe Kapler, and several other Dodgers staff members. A 17-year-old girl came forward, saying two minor league Dodgers players had gotten her drunk, one sexually assaulted her while she was unconscious, and one of the players videotaped while other women that were there physically assaulted her. Kapler did not report this to the police, and other members of the Dodgers’ organization failed to bring this to the police either. Instead, they tried to handle it in-house, offering the young girl a dinner to help her feel “safe.” While Kapler has addressed his role in the situation due to being pressed for answers prior to being hired for his managerial roles with both the Phillies and the Giants, the Dodgers have not offered an answer for it. No answer is certainly an answer, and their handling of Bauer is the nail in the coffin.
Quite simply, there is no excuse. There is no excuse for a lack of accountability from the Dodgers organization, nor is there an excuse from MLB or Rob Manfred. You cannot put importance on one aspect of the game, while again, allowing people like Bauer, who are being accused of something so heinous, the privilege of getting to put on a fresh uniform and make millions doing it. That privilege is earned, and unless Bauer is proved to be innocent, it needs to be revoked. The Dodgers clearly have not learned from past experiences with sexual assault, and do not appear to be taking any steps to make it right, either.
I will reiterate — it is not MLB or the Dodgers’ job to conclude that Bauer is guilty. However, it is not nearly too much to ask to do what is right — suspend him or put him on leave until the courts decide. Have some respect for victims, have respect for the game that Manfred says he loves so much. Do the right thing. It is really not that hard.
If you or someone you know is struggling with domestic violence, please utilize the resources below: