Dylan Hernandez: Trevor Bauer makes a clumsy grab at the playoff spotlight. The Dodgers aren't amused.
LOS ANGELES — They paid him millions not to pitch. They paid millions more in trading for his replacement. They didn't allow him to interfere with their defense of their World Series championship.
And, still, the Dodgers can't free themselves of Trevor Bauer.
He won't let them.
The banished pitcher returned to the public sphere Tuesday afternoon in a backward cap and shoulder-length hair.
In a 36-second video that he uploaded to his once-ubiquitous social media accounts, Bauer casually addressed the sexual assault allegations that led to a paid administrative leave now entering its fourth month. He vaguely promised to provide "baseball content" in the coming weeks.
Just as he was receding from public consciousness. Just as the Dodgers were about to start their postseason.
Which was almost certainly the point.
How narcissistic. How selfish. How Trevor Bauer.
When Bauer agreed last month to extend his paid administrative leave through the playoffs, his agents released a statement in which they said he did so "in a measure of good faith and in an effort to minimize any distraction to the Dodgers organization and his teammates." Yet, here he was creating a sideshow as the team was taking the field for its final workout before Wednesday's winner-take-all wild-card game against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Suddenly, the Dodgers weren't the winners of 106 games. They weren't the defending World Series champions.
They were the fools who signed a known loose cannon, against whom the Los Angeles County district attorney's office is still considering criminal charges.
The Dodgers have skillfully avoided discussing Bauer since his early-summer banishment, but seething uniformed and nonuniformed personnel alike unleashed waves of expletives Tuesday afternoon when asked about Bauer's video.
"Are you [kidding] me?" one Dodgers person asked.
That particular person hadn't yet watched the video. Imagine if that person had seen the footage, which showed Bauer taking a leisurely walk down a street.
"Hey, guys," Bauer said. "I know you haven't heard from me in a while. I look forward to speaking about the false and misleading allegations in the future. But for now, this is what I'm able to share with you: One legal matter has been resolved. The judge's detailed decision is available and it speaks for itself."
On Aug. 19, a judge dissolved a restraining order against Bauer that was requested by a woman accusing him of sexual assault.
The woman's allegations were investigated by the Pasadena Police Department, which turned over its file to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office on Aug. 27. Bauer also remains under investigation by Major League Baseball, which is empowered under a collectively bargained domestic violence policy to levy an unpaid suspension even if criminal charges aren't filed.
"There is a pending matter, which I'm not able to speak about at this time," Bauer said in his video. "With that being said, I'm going to be rolling out some baseball content here throughout the postseason."
In other words, this won't be Bauer's last attempt to shift the public's focus from the Dodgers to himself.
Once again, the hypocrisy was striking, as Bauer went on to say: "This is a channel that aims to celebrate baseball culture and entertain. And I love bringing you guys along for that ride with me. So, I'll see you all in a video here soon."
Celebrate? By reminding fans that one of the sport's signature franchises employs someone accused of engaging in sexual behavior so violent it sent a woman to the hospital?
Bauer was widely viewed as tone-deaf even before the allegations surfaced. What he's missing here is that the court of public opinion doesn't operate by the same rules as the court system.
Avoiding prosecution won't necessarily win over the public. He'll also have to make a convincing case the alleged violence didn't occur, that he doesn't enjoy punching and choking women.
Trade-deadline acquisition Max Scherzer, who will start against the Cardinals, was more than a Cy Young Award-level staff ace for the Dodgers over the last two months. He provided cover, the perfect Band-Aid for the mistake the front office made in signing Bauer. Scherzer's domination overshadowed why it was necessary to trade for him in the first place.
What the Dodgers learned on the eve of their postseason opener is that Bauer is a mistake that can't be covered up. Every round they advance in the postseason, Bauer looms as a potential interloper, offering unsolicited commentary and making it harder for his nominal teammates to disassociate themselves from him.