There’s this metaphor called the Missing Stair – the idea that there’s a person who is known to be a problem – someone that could cause real damage like a missing stair in a staircase. But instead of replacing the stair, making it safer for everyone, the people in the group just step around it, never fixing the issue. So the hole just stays there, waiting for someone who isn’t in the know to fall in.
From the outside, perhaps it’s hard to tell that there’s a missing step. So many men are going up and down the staircase, it’s harder to notice when a woman goes down or gets hurt. And why should the men care? The stair is never missing for them.
The Dodgers have just signed what feels like a visibly broken stair. Everyone can see it. There are shards poking out in every direction. Women especially can see it, even when another woman in the form of his agent Rachel Luba keeps insisting it’s a solid stair. It’s not. It’s a missing stair waiting to happen. All the signs are there.
Trevor Bauer has already harassed a female Dodger fan and other women online, some to the point of actual fear for said women. He delights in sending his army of goons armed with clown gifs and “cry more snowflake” and “if you don’t like it leave” – phrases taken straight out of the white supremacist playbook that lead to an armed riot at our nation’s capitol.
When his followers are swinging the same verbal weapons as MAGA supporters, it becomes impossible to separate politics from baseball here. Bauer presents as staunchly conservative, not in itself inherently bad, but his beliefs have caused a swell of willfully ignorant bullies to rally around him.
Bauer brings with him into the Dodger fanbase a legion of serial harassers that he routinely weaponizes and uses like a cudgel. He gets his power trip and a massive ego stroke, the unlucky recipient of his downward punching blows usually has to leave Twitter because of the constant harassment.
What Damage Can Broken Stair Do?
Time and time again and again, the concerns of women and minorities are put on the back burner for the potential of a white man. And what potential is that? Seven seasons with a 4+ ERA? His best ERA in a shortened year in which he all but admits openly to doctoring balls for increased spin rates?
I know the men on the current Dodgers roster aren’t perfect. I’m not the only woman who watched Julio Urias throw the last pitch of the World Series with mixed feelings after his domestic violence suspension. I’m disappointed Justin Turner came back out onto the field after being pulled for a positive COVID test. And just recently, Blake Treinen supposedly posted one of the My Pillow guy’s harmful conspiracy theory videos on his Instagram story.
But I also remember the images of Justin and his wife Kourtney feeding tens of thousands of meals through the LA Dream Center. I think of David Price paying the minor league salaries of a team he hadn’t even thrown a regular season pitch for yet. Mookie Betts paying the grocery bills of families who need a helping hand.
I think of the now iconic image of Betts taking a knee during the anthem on Opening Day, Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy stepping closer to lend their support. I remember the words that Dave Roberts, Mookie Betts, Clayton Kershaw, and Kenley Jansen spoke about the shooting of Jacob Blake, of why they decided to cancel the game in his and others’ honor.
I think about former Dodger Rich Hill’s Field of Genes, Kershaw’s Challenge, Buehler’s charity golf tournaments. I think of the fifty-one Dodgers Dreamfields built in and around our communities and the other 24 planned to come.
I think of all of that, then try to picture what value Trevor Bauer brings as a teammate to that clubhouse. To what it means to be a Dodger. And I grow uneasy.
I think of the front office executives who looked at Bauer’s uneven record, his self-aggrandizing, his bad temper, and thought that he would be a good fit.
I think of Billie Jean King, who fought and won a literal battle of the sexes, now the part owner of a team who willingly signed a known harasser of women.
I think of the Dodger fan whom Bauer sent his nastiest fuck-your-feelings followers after, and what it will feel like for her to watch him take the mound in a Dodger jersey.
I think about the broken stair we just installed on our stairway to Blue Heaven. And wonder who is going to be the next person to fall in.
For more on equality in baseball, see Women Belong at Home (and First and Second and Third)
This article has been corrected. The previous version stated that Jacob Blake was killed by police. It has been updated.