Editor’s note: this article contains adult content describing sex acts.
On Friday, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer was suspended for two years by MLB’s Commissioner Rob Manfred. The suspension is the longest in MLB history and on the face of it, there is no justification for any suspension, let alone two years. That’s a 324-game suspension, and if it stands, that would cost Bauer over $50 million.
The MLB Players Association ceded all disciplinary action to the Commission in the last contract, so the Commissioner, in theory, can do “whatever he wants.” That doesn’t mean he should do what he wants based on what appears to be cultural expediencies e.g.: “believe all women.”
As a preface, I am appalled by Bauer’s sexual proclivities. Bauer seems, without dispute, to be into hard and rough sex. Nonetheless, what Bauer likes with a willing partner, and in the privacy of his home, shouldn’t be subject to the ad hoc and career ending judgment of Rob Manfred.
Lest we forget, Manfred’s judgment is, at best, suspect. His acumen on politically charged events and cultural norms seems more aligned with TikToking teachers posting videos about grooming five-year-olds. Manfred moved the All-Star Game from Georgia over his absurd, easily refuted, and feckless claim that the Georgia law on voting rights restricted rights of minorities. He moved the game to a state (Colorado) with more restrictive rules on early voting, so I am not so confident that Manfred is anywhere close to possessing Solomon’s wisdom on anything.
On June 28, 2021, Bauer pitched his last game for the Dodgers. A San Diego woman requested a restraining order. She claimed that two sexual trysts with Bauer exceeded her rough sex “limits.” Bauer was suspended by MLB, and a four-day hearing followed.
I’ve handled TRO’s, and just on the face of it, this seemed like the wrong vehicle and smelled of a payday. Number one, she claimed that her limits were exceeded twice, on two different days and in different months. If she had an objection to the first event, there shouldn’t have been a second. Further, there are text messages that she, in fact, asked to be choked to unconsciousness. Creepy? Sure. Illegal? No.
Although she claimed significant injuries, the judge handling the matter found that she didn’t meet the burden of proof for a restraining order. Again, I’ve handled TRO’s and permanent restraining order hearings, and I could guess before closing statements that no order would issue. In August of last year the court denied the request, ending the matter, or so it seems. Bauer has since sued his accuser in federal court.
A second woman added her voice and claimed similar, rough sex injuries in Ohio, when Bauer was pitching for the Reds. That claim went the same direction as last year’s claim, inasmuch as she dropped it. Bauer has threated to sue her for defamation, and likely, with this suspension, he will.
MLB continued to “investigate” and extend Bauer’s leave. There is no evidence that MLB has any other evidence beyond the two public claims made.
Again, if there are just the two public claims of rough sex, principally based on “he said, she said” testimony, Bauer is getting railroaded.
My guess is, Rob Manfred’s ruling has little to do with provable facts and more to do with optics, and bending a knee to the cultural left and the “believe all women” crowd. At present, all we know is that two women claimed they were “hurt” during rough sex. Trevor Bauer denies any of it was nonconsensual. What Manfred seems to have done is discount and disbelieve all of Bauer’s testimony/evidence and believe, without dispute, that both women told the absolute truth. And for Manfred, his calculus could have been as simplistic and unnuanced as “two against one.”
There seems little room that Manfred could claim otherwise. That, or Manfred knows that his ruling has little hope of surviving the appeal process and took the coward’s path by making a ruling that would please the “believe all women” side. When Bauer appeals, and he will — and in my opinion he will prevail — Manfred can still claim hero status for the left and offer, “I tried.” He can hold his head up high at the tony New York cocktail parties.
This ruling disturbs me. As a defense lawyer, I see no justification for this. What is known at this point is incredibly weak and loaded with evidence that screams “payday.” And it should disturb anyone, man or woman, that MLB has accepted that because a woman makes an accusation, a man needs to disprove the accusation. That’s not how the system is supposed to work. That kangaroo court-style of justice is happening on campuses, and it’s contrary to the bedrock of jurisprudence. Innocent until proven guilty seems to not have been a factor for Rob Manfred.
I don’t have to “like” Trevor Bauer. What he’s into is creepy, and I would avoid him on a personal level like the plague. But justice is supposed to be blind. We need not “like” people when we ask for equal justice. A loathsome man deserves the same justice as a virtuous man.
In this case, though, one thing is clear: Justice has not been served.
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