Major League Baseball has a real problem, and I am not talking about steroids or “sticky stuff.” I am referring to the various assault charges and sexual harassment issues that have plagued the sport for many years. Sadly, none of this is new, but the continuation of this behavior by both players and staff members creates a dark cloud around a sport that, at times, struggles to keep up in today’s world. While Major League Baseball has created policies in order to punish those who are charged, it keeps happening and creates a larger narrative that is more serious than the game of baseball being played. Some things are bigger than baseball and this is one of them. The MLB needs to create a stronger policy where if charged, the player may not return to the game. Many athletes are seen as role models or heroes to those on the outside, so this underlining acceptance of these serious issues causes more problems than on the surface.
Recently assault allegations have come out against Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer, including the woman filing a temporary domestic violence restraining order against him. Bauer is alleged to have hit and choked the woman without her consent during two sexual encounters between the two parties. The woman claims Bauer punched her multiple places across her body, including the side of the head and choked her with her own hair to the point of her losing consciousness. He is also accused of having anal sex with her, without her knowledge of consent while unconscious. The woman has stated that at first, she agreed to have sex with Bauer consensually but that none of what transpired after was consensual. In the 84-page document filed, it includes medical records and pictures of said injuries from one of the encounters with the Dodgers pitcher.
Bauer and his representatives plan to deny the charges, stating that everything was consensual, and that the woman asked for “rough” sexual encounters with him. Additionally, his representatives stated that the woman spent the night each time and continued to message Bauer with “friendly and flirtatious” banter. Bauer’s representatives did provide screenshots of text messages between the two parties where they appear to discuss erotic asphyxiation. Regardless, the woman decided that she was not comfortable with what happened between the two and did not consent to the physical abuse that transpired. These are serious allegations and Bauer could potentially face both criminal charges and discipline from Major League Baseball.
This isn’t the first time that Bauer has been accused of harassing women, even if this is a first of physical abuse. Before the Dodgers signed the pitcher, his character came into question due to this questionable online behavior in years prior. Bauer, who is one of the most active MLB players on social media, was accused of harassing a female college student in 2019. The woman tweeted that Bauer was her least favorite person in sports and Bauer proceeded to tweet at her continuously and aggressively both directly at her and speaking with others about her. This prompted followers of Bauer to join in on the harassment and the woman ended up temporarily deleting her account due to the spamming of messages and tweets. Bauer put the blame on the woman for starting the issue and kept fueling the fire by responding to people for his large following to see. Bauer used his platform to harass and bully this woman and this should have been a larger sign for teams and baseball.
There is no place in the world and within sports for this kind of harassment and it has now escalated into something extremely serious with the new assault allegations charged against Bauer. Even before the investigation concludes, the MLB should declare Bauer ineligible to play and if found guilty of any charges, should be banned from ever playing baseball again. Additionally, if charged, the Dodgers should immediately release Bauer. This should be a no tolerance policy for all teams and may be a wake-up call for anyone going forward that may even think about abusing another.
Bauer is not alone in this as baseball has seen many of its athletes and staff both charged and suspended for assault and harassment. Braves outfielder Marcell Ozuna was arrested in May 2021 for a domestic violence incident in Atlanta. Pitcher Sam Dyson was suspended for the entire 2021 season after being accused of domestic assault. Former pitcher Roberto Osuna was suspended 75 games in 2018 for his assault charges and was brought back to the league by the Houston Astros in 2019. The charges did end up being dropped against Osuna but the serious nature of the issue remains. Former Mets manager Mickey Callaway was placed on the MLB ineligible list through the 2022 season following a lengthy sexual harassment investigation in which Callaway exhibited lewd behavior to multiple woman employed within the Mets organization. The list keeps going on and on yet despite the penalties dropped by the MLB, players and staff continue to engage in this outrageous behavior at high rates.
Every one of these charges are too serious to be ignored or to just have the MLB put a slap on the wrist with a suspension. The MLB needs to act swiftly and decisively with every accusation that comes forth. Often, when there is smoke there is fire and each person being accused has the right to tell their side of the story and let the legal system play out. However, no matter the outcome of the accusations, there are far too many incidents occurring. The MLB needs to look at themselves in a mirror and come up with a plan to attempt to stop this systematic series of abuse. Whether that is sensitivity training for players and staff or a no-nonsense policy for anyone charged, the time for change is now and it is up to the MLB to step up and do what is right.