Crime And Punishment?

So … yesterday’s rant dealt with investigations of alleged wrong-doing(s) and lawsuits.  Let me continue today with happenings that fall into a similar genre.  First among examples here would be this headline at

  • “MLB suspends Trevor Bauer two full seasons over sexual assault allegations”

Remember that in this case, the district attorney who investigated the incident(s) at the core of this matter decided NOT to level formal charges and proceed to a prosecution.  Everyone here knows that I am not an attorney; and even though I am overweight, I did not play Perry Mason on TV.  So, let me demonstrate my meager understanding here with these three comments:

  1. The DA’s decision not to prosecute was probably based on an assessment that the State could not prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Trevor Bauer was guilty of a sexual assault.
  2. That choice by the DA means that Trevor Bauer will not stand trial for what his accuser alleges he did.
  3. That choice by the DA does NOT mean that Trevor Bauer did not do what his accuser alleges that he did.

Now let me put on my analytical hat and suggest that the following is similarly true:

  • MLB conducted its own investigation of these allegations – – maybe with the cooperation of the DA and maybe totally independently.
  • For MLB to have handed down a suspension of that length absent any sort of decision as to criminal guilt tells me that MLB waded into some pretty sordid waters in the process of its investigating.

Trevor Bauer is innocent in the eyes of the law; Trevor Bauer is not innocent in the eyes of MLB whose standards for deciding guilt or innocence are very different from those of the criminal law.  The reason I say that I suspect MLB “waded into some pretty sordid waters” here is that by issuing this 2-year suspension – – without a provision for time served already nonetheless – – the Commish has levied a fine on Bauer in an amount that approaches $65M.  I am not sure that the Commish has the authority to levy a fine of nearly that magnitude against a team if they are found to have done something heinous “to the game”.

If you want to go and read all the background info on these allegations, Google is  your friend.  Notwithstanding all the forthing and backing in the rhetoric here, please also go to “Google Images” and search for “Trevor Bauer Accuser”.  I know nothing about how and why his accuser came to look the way she does in those photos; but suffice it to say, that she does not look as if the actions prior to these photographs were only kind and loving.

Bauer says he will appeal the Commissioner’s decision; of course, he will; if he can overturn it, he will collect about $65M from the LA Dodgers.  You may be certain that his attorneys/publicists will frame his appeal in terms of his innocence based on the DA’s decision not to prosecute.  [Aside:  Recall from above that the choice not to prosecute does not determine in either way the fact of a sexual assault or the absence of a sexual assault.]  That may be true for the attorneys/publicists who are applying billable hours; this is more of an image-driven issue for MLB and the Dodgers.  Bauer is suspended through the end of the 2023 season and that coincides with the termination of his current contract with the Dodgers.   If – – I said IF – – his appeal is denied, Bauer will be 33 years old and a free agent after the 2023 season.  He will also be a pariah as he goes around to shop his talents as a starting pitcher to teams who may not be looking forward to the sort of publicity that could devolve to them once they sign him.

I am not ready to posit that Trevor Bauer’s MLB career is over because I have seen too many incidents in professional sports  over the past 40-50 years where teams have turned a blind eye to some atrocious behaviors/predilections if and when the talent was sufficiently above average.  As Trevor Bauer goes looking for work in the winter of 2023/24, I am sure that his agent(s) will be reminding teams that he has had about three years less wear and tear on his arm than a normal 34-year-old starting pitcher would have – – thanks to the Commissioner’s still to be proven criminal behaviors by their client.

Greg Cote of the Miami Herald reacted to this whole situation with the following comment:

“Bauer quickly announced he would be appealing. Ironically, it seems very little about Bauer is appealing.”

AND … this is not a situation that should be taken alone and without context.  Rob Manfred is not nearly a paragon of competency as a Commissioner of a major sport – – but he stood up on his hind legs here and took a stand that might or might not be sustainable or popular.  Lest anyone forget, Roger Goodell has a similar conundrum on his plate as we speak.  Deshaun Watson has been accused by more than a dozen women of sexual assault and the DA in Texas has chosen not to prosecute Watson.  Once again, that does not mean Watson did not do what he was alleged to have done; what it means is that the DA thinks it is more likely that he would lose the case if he had to present it to a jury.

Watson just signed a humongous, guaranteed contract with the Browns.  Roger Goodell’s counterpart in MLB just handed down a 2-year suspension without a jury finding of guilty; the ball is now in Roger Goodell’s court…

Finally, today’s rant has dealt with matters of law as they relate to matters of fact and so it is fitting to close with this comment on the law by comedian Fred Allen:

“I learned law so well, the day I graduated I sued the college, won the case, and got my tuition back.””

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



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