All Ball: Dodger dog, Clippers vs Lakers in 2022

by Paul Teetor

The Trouble with Trevor

Remember that crazy story Former President Donald Trump loved to tell about the frost-bitten snake taken in by a tender-hearted woman who was then shocked when the snake bit her? The punchline: you knew I was a snake before you took me in.

His point, I guess, was to warn about the alleged dangers of unchecked immigration. But many people took it as a cautionary tale about why Trump never should have been elected President of the United States in the first place: we knew he was a con man, a liar and a cheat and we still let him sneak into the White House via the back door – aka the electoral college — after he lost the popular vote by 3 million.

Trump’s fractured fairytale immediately came to mind this week when Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer was accused of some stomach-turning sexual crimes.

The Dodgers knew Bauer was a snake before they took him in, and now he has bitten them – big-time.

Dodgers General Manager Andrew Friedman, and even controlling owner Mark Walter and President Stan Kasten were well aware of Bauer’s pock-marked past and tendency to get into digital trouble last spring before they made him the highest paid player in baseball, at least for this year, with a 3-year, $102 million contract.

All they had to do was to Google his name and his sordid online history would pop up: harassing women, mocking transgender people, and spreading antisemitic conspiracy theories. He had already been on three major league rosters with his huge talent for causing trouble overcoming his considerable talent for pitching.

From all corners of the sports media world came the cry: what are you doing? What are you thinking? You’re already the best team in baseball. You just won the World Series. You don’t need this troubled guy!

So what if Bauer won the National League Cy Young award last year in the pandemic shortened season. So what if he’s a local SoCal kid who played ball at Hart High School in Santa Clarita and later starred at UCLA.

His track record of online harassment of women, disciplinary problems that made former Dodger problem child Yasiel Puig look like a choir boy, and general F-You attitude toward the world made him manifestly unfit to be a member of the proud franchise that had just won its first World Series in 32 years. The franchise of Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella and Gil Hodges and Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale and the late, great Tommy Lasorda.

A team led today, by the way, by future Hall-of-Fame pitcher Clayton Kershaw, who kisses babies, helps little old ladies across the street, and has been scandal free in a sport where that status is increasingly rare. You could call him the anti-Bauer, the good guy to Bauer’s proudly obnoxious bad boy.

But Friedman, Walter and Kasten – the three amigos who call all the Dodgers shots, including most of the analytics-driven, on-field moves made by Manager Dave Roberts – kicked the tires once over lightly on the 30-year-old Bauer and pronounced him ready to roll in the sacred Dodger blue uni.

“In our conversations, he’s alluded to past mistakes he’s made, and you know what?” Friedman said. “We’re all going to make mistakes, and what’s important for me is how we internalize it, what our thoughts are going forward. It was important to have that conversation, and we came away from it feeling good about it.”   

Right now, no one associated with the Dodgers is feeling good about Bauer or his brief time with the team. He’s been nothing but trouble from the day he showed up for spring training.

Right away he got into a few Twitter beefs with opposing fans and players. It was troubling considering his claims to have grown and matured emotionally and spiritually, but it died down after a few weeks.

Then his behavior got more bizarre, as he spoke out against the use of foreign substances by other pitchers. Ironic, since he had long been accused of generating extra spin on his pitches with exactly those foreign substances like pine tar, Vaseline and bear grease. Then he took it a step further by telling the press how much he could increase the spin rate on his own pitches if he used sticky materials.                                 

Then he actually did increase his spin rate by almost exactly the amount he said he could if he was willing to break the rules.

That crossed a line. Major League Baseball quickly instituted a new policy: instead of waiting for specific complaints from opposing managers, umpires would now routinely search pitchers and check for sticky materials stashed in their hats, their gloves, their belts – anywhere that pitchers have been hiding foreign substances ever since they were outlawed following the end of the spit-ball era almost a century ago.

You can imagine how much that new policy — that Bauer provoked — endeared him to teammates and opponents alike.

But now he has ventured into a potentially criminal area, and he could soon be looking at a suspension from baseball far beyond the week he was suspended – with pay — on Friday as well as, potentially, time in jail.

The facts that have emerged so far are sickening. And there are sure to be even more lurid facts emerging because Bauer is currently the subject of three investigations: one by the Dodgers, one by Major League Baseball, and one by the Pasadena Police Department.

It’s a modern love story that only could have happened in the digital age.

According to her petition for a restraining order that has now been granted, Bauer and the still-unnamed woman making the accusations “met” on Instagram, a social media platform where people post photos.

According to her petition, she agreed to come to his home in Pasadena for consensual sex that quickly turned into “rough sex.” 

“I agreed to have consensual sex; however, I did not agree or consent to what he did next,” she wrote. “I did not agree to be sexually assaulted.”

Still, she returned to his home for consensual sex three weeks later, and this time she awoke to find Bauer punching her in the face. She attached photos of the alleged damage to her face. 

Here’s where it gets really weird.

Bauer’s lawyer, Jon Fetterrolf, quickly produced texts – he said they were sent from the woman to Bauer, but who can be sure? — that appeared to show her agreeing not only to consensual sex, but to so-called rough sex.

Fetterolf was adamant that Bauer was an innocent man.

Translated, without the legal lingo: She was asking for it, and we can prove it. 

A hearing on the case has been scheduled for July 23 in Los Angeles Superior Court. By that time the results of the police investigation, and a determination on charges to be filed, if any, should hopefully be known.

The timing could not be worse for the Dodgers.

Over the weekend, the team finally got the White House visit that it didn’t get last fall after winning the World Series. President Joe Biden declared that “America is back and the Dodgers are back.”

Regardless of the results of the investigation, we can only hope Bauer, who did not attend the White House visit, never comes back — to the Dodgers or to LA.

Even if no legal charges are filed, the Dodgers already have enough evidence to know that Bauer lied when he assured them that he has matured and learned from his past mistakes.

As for Friedman, Kasten and Walter, the three amigos who signed Bauer to that huge contract despite all the warning signs? They should apologize to the team’s loyal fans for their egregious mistake and promise never to act so foolishly again.

They knew Bauer was a snake. 

And still they took him into the house that Koufax built.

And they got bit.

Clippers & Lakers: See ya Next Season

The Lakers and the Clippers each ended their season the same way: confidently claiming that they would have beaten the Phoenix Suns if not for all the untimely injuries they suffered.

The difference: the Lakers lost 4-2 to the Suns in the first round of the playoffs. For a franchise with 17 NBA titles and the greatest player of all time, that is a total failure.

The Clippers also lost 4-2 to the Suns, but it was in the Western Conference Finals – the first time the franchise made it all the way to the WCF in its 51-year history. By any terms, that is a success for a franchise starved for its very first NBA title.

At this very early stage, they have to be considered one of the favorites to win the title next season. After all, they advanced this far without Kawhi Leonard, their best player, being available for their last eight games. With Leonard? They likely would have gone to the Finals and won their first championship.

As the Suns move on to face the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Finals with game 1 Tuesday night, it’s time to take a look at how each LA franchise played this year and what their future looks like in the 2021-22 season that will start in a little more than three months.

The Lakers started out playing great and looking like the defending champions that they were. Then Anthony Davis got hurt. Then LeBron James got hurt. Then they both came back. Then LeBron got hurt again. Then Davis got hurt again. Then LeBron came back but clearly was nowhere near 100 percent. Still, they took a 2-1 lead over Phoenix and looked poised to advance to the second round. Then AD got hurt again and they lost two straight games to go down 3-2. Then Davis tried to come back so he wouldn’t be called soft and fragile and brittle, which he clearly is. But he could only last five minutes before being forced to sit out for good. Then it became clear LeBron could not carry the team without his sidekick. Their season was over before you could say “Pass the Band Aids.”

A terrible ending, but one thing is clear: if both LeBron and AD come back next season at anything close to 100 percent, the Lakers will still be title contenders. LeBron is still a top-five player, and AD is still a top-10 player. And both are under contract for next season, so it’s all about the rehab and the weight room as far as the Lakers are concerned.

They are only facing one free-agent decision: point guard Dennis Schroeder. During the early part of the season, he was clearly their third best player, a quick-silver guard who could penetrate, hit his own shot or collapse the defense and create shots for others. He took pressure off LeBron so the 36-year-old superstar didn’t have to bring the ball up all the time and initiate the offense.

That’s when the Lakers offered him an $84 million extension over four years. He turned it down, letting it be known through his friends in the media that he thought he was worth $100 million over 4 years.

Now the Lakers and Schroeder will play a financial game of chicken until August 2, when unrestricted free agents are free to sign with any team. The Lakers will look at point guard alternatives like Kyle Lowry, and Schroeder will look for a team willing to pay him $100 – or even $84 million.

Good luck with that.

As for the Clippers, they played great most of the year, until they tanked their last several games in order to avoid meeting the Lakers until the Western Conference Finals. That was a strategic mistake, and bad basketball karma too.

For next season, it all comes down to Kawhi Leonard: should he stay or should he go.

If Kawhi picks up his player option for $36 million – or signs a new contract for more money and more years – the rest of the team’s free agents like Reggie Jackson and Nicholas Batum figure to fall in line quickly. Money-bags owner Steve Ballmer has plenty of cash to go over the luxury tax line, so look for the Clippers to, as they say at Live Oak Park, run it back next year.

Prediction: the Lakers and Clippers will meet in an epic Western Conference Finals next year, with the Clippers prevailing in a brutal 7-game series and going on to win their first NBA title.

Kawhi and the Clips made history this year.

They’ll make even more history next year. Contact: teetor.paul@gmail.com

Follow: @paulteetor. ER                 

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Written by: Paul Teetor

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