As expected, Trevor Bauer claimed the National League Cy Young Award last night, which has launched a raging river of horseshit like this.
It’s hard to know where to begin with this, but let’s start with the idea that Bauer is some sort of underdog story. He might have the face of the kid no one liked in high school – because no one did as he might be the game’s leading raging asshole and always has been – but Bauer was recruited by UCLA and was the No. 3 overall pick in the draft. He’s not some roughneck raised by wolves who learned to throw a baseball by taking out pigeons and small rodents with rocket throws for food. Though he might as well have been, given his social skills.
It has been one of the true mysteries of late how many baseball observers are simply smitten with Bauer, even though he’s a misogynist, birther dickhead, simply because he likes to talk about his lab work, uses words that make those with journalism degrees go all gooey in places we’d rather not think about, and is happy to give them a quote. As calculated as Bauer is, he affirms the modern baseball writer’s desire to see the game analyzed and run in different ways, even if the messenger is a reptile. At least so they think.
And yet, baseball writers seem to be aware of the problem. There was this expose in The Athletic just a couple days ago. And Bauer has been the most outspoken about pitchers using foreign substances to add spin rate to their offerings for years. And he’s basically taunted everyone this year about “giving in” and using them himself. In fact, one of the writers to point this out was Jeff Passan! The one who had that fawning tweet above! This is what Bauer himself told The Players Tribune:
“I’ve been chasing spin rate since 2012. For eight years I’ve been trying to figure out how to increase the spin on my fastball because I’d identified it way back then as such a massive advantage. I knew that if I could learn to increase it through training and technique, it would be huge. But eight years later, I haven’t found any other way except using foreign substances.”
This is on the same note as when HBO’s RealSports asked Gary Sheffield about his BALCO connections, and he said because steroids were something you shot in your ass, and he’d never shot anything in his ass, he therefore had never taken PEDs. Bauer has basically done that this season, mostly because of his impending free agency, which he hasn’t shut up about all year, by saying he got his spin rate by “not pine tar.” Bauer’s 2020 season has been one, long “If I Did It.”
It has been clear, if you think about it for half a second, that something is up when so many pitchers are throwing sliders that glitch out of site. And yet according to that Athletic article, MLB has basically just given up. Here’s a game where strikeouts and lack of contact are a major issue, and yet the league office can only stand idly by while every baseball is turned into a magic bullet? And now the posterboy for all this, the one who has called it out while also showing off how easy it is to use it and get away with it and the effects it has, who has taunted the league and opponents about it with his rich-kid smirk, is getting pitching’s most prestigious award?
Some system you got here, Manfred.
It’s just so perfect that once again the game’s observers are falling into the same trap they did 20-25 years ago with PEDs, when they marveled at what was being accomplished, how outlandish it all seemed when it was pretty damn clear what was going on as Mark McGwire’s forehead turned into the USS Ronald Reagan. There are more followers and writers outside the ropes now with bigger followings who are telling everyone what’s going on with Bauer and other pitchers, and yet here we are.
The only thing left to do is to have a serious chuckle when some team hands this fuckstick $100M or much more, watches him stop using KY Jelly or whatever, and he turns back into scenery. Let’s hope it’s the Mets. It would be so on-brand. Or the Yankees, just to see known adversary Gerrit Cole drop an anvil on him by Memorial Day.