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Photo Credit: © Kareem Elgazzar via Imagn Content Services, LLC

The Trevor Bauer Discussion Needs Nuance – Rosie DiManno Used None of it

Barring an absolutely bizarre outcome, Trevor Bauer is going to win the Cy Young award this year in the National League, and rightfully so, as the 29-year-old was dominating in his short 2020 season.

A 1.73 ERA with a 36% K% and a 6.1% BB% while allowing 9 home runs in 73 innings is immaculate, and Bauer deserves to be recognized for those accomplishments. He is also a free agent this off-season, and if you’re reading this, you’re well aware that the Blue Jays, like virtually every team in baseball, have an acute need for high-end starting pitching. Naturally, there will be articles clamoring for the two to get together.

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Rosie Dimanno of the Toronto Star kicked things off with one yesterday, but completely missed the mark. I won’t quote from the piece here, but go read it before continuing on in this article.

The article she wrote was just weird on many levels. From the title “The Blue Jays need Trevor Bauer, baseball’s outrage king. It’s a pitch worth making on so many levels”, one would think DiManno was prepared to address the real question of grappling with Bauer’s excellent on the field results but questionable morality off of it. Instead, the antics she mentions throughout the piece are just the ones Bauer has been responsible for that might not sit well with players and league execs.

Her argument comes down to the fact that he is outspoken about baseball’s issues and while that may cause some players and league executives not to like him, the Blue Jays need those sweet sweet strikeouts, so it’s a match made in heaven.

That’s fine, except the issue with Bauer that makes grappling with supporting him as a fan – which she admits to doing in the third paragraph – difficult isn’t his outspokenness on baseball’s issues, it is everything else. It’s the fact that he has openly championed President Donald Trump and his racist policies. He has expressed strong climate change denial, while still pretending to be a bastion of the scientific method in everything he does on the field. Lastly, and most worrisome, is that he has repeatedly used his large social media following to harass young women and send his horde of followers after them at any moment.

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Any conversation about the Blue Jays targeting and acquiring Trevor Bauer needs to address those issues. By not doing it, Dimanno, and any other media member who will write about him this off-season, do a complete disservice to the fanbase, especially the large part of it who would feel uncomfortable cheering for him on the field. Make no mistake, more articles of the nature will be written. Ross Atkins has already spoken of his desire to add a high-end talent, and the whispers people in-the-know are hearing out of the Blue Jays’ front office already point to that option being more realistic than in previous winters.

I don’t know exactly where I stand on all of this. I can look past the Trump support and climate change denial, because if we were to have a league of only liberal baseball players, there would need to be contraction of at least 29 teams. Generally, baseball players come from Red America, and they feel a certain way, and I think anybody who watches baseball and engages with left wing discussion is aware of this fact. There is no getting around that the vast majority of the players we are watching have political opinions that are the complete opposite of ours, no matter how grotesque we find them to be.

The real issue for me is the harassment of people on Twitter. As an athlete with hundreds of thousands of followers, Bauer is mentioned in a lot more tweets than you or me. But rather than just not looking at them like any normal person would do, he has chosen to engage with some of them publicly, calling young women out and leading to them being targeted by his followers, along with Bauer himself doing a lot of the targeting. It sums up Bauer very well.

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He is weird and does things people don’t usually do, while not thinking of others or their well-being in any way. He has the opportunity to just ignore his mentions, which surely are a cess-pool of social media rot more often than not, yet he has chosen to interact with some and bring them to a national audience. He repeatedly attacked the same young woman with tweets in 2019 for multiple days, and came across as obsessed with making some point against her to his throng of followers. It was terrible, and nobody deserves what happened to that person.

But then, he is good at throwing a baseball in a way that hitters can’t see it well, so that’s something to consider.

DiManno did not engage with any of this, on a basic level or on a critical level, and if you read the article unaware of his actions, you would still walk away not knowing about them, and now with a large level of support for the Blue Jays to try to sign him in MLB free agency next month. That is not what a journalist should be doing – they must present all the facts and allow for the reader to make their own decisions.

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Pretending like the issue is some benign attacking of the Astros for their cheating, or Bauer’s highly vocal criticism of Rob Manfred, completely misses the point. The issues with Bauer are real, and if we’re going to have discussions about him, we need to actually have the discussions, not just pretend and hope nobody notices.