Baseball has a big marketing problem, largely thanks to a vocal group of old men who call themselves “purists” or “traditionalists.” In a world where leagues like the NBA have done a great job of continuing to market stars to a young audience, baseball purists do their best to ensure that the game is “played the right way” and that we follow the “unwritten rules.” Unfortunately, this typically results in baseball’s rising superstars like Mike Trout, Francisco Lindor, and Jose Altuve being kept far away from the spotlight of American culture compared to their peers like Steph Curry and Joel Embiid. Sure, keeping the integrity of America’s past time in tact is a compelling argument to some, but when Puerto Rico native Francisco Lindor feels the need to apologize after celebrating a home run in front of thousands of displaced and suffering Puerto Ricans, you know things might be going a bit too far.
Because of this culture, it’s tough to name many baseball players with an exciting off-field persona. Guys like A-Rod and Jeter were able to overcome the barrier and become off-field celebrities to an extent, but they perfectly fit the stereotype of the clean shaven, attractive Yankee’s superstar. Baseball guys are cool with them because they are still walking the line they are expected to walk as professional baseball players, but there was nothing interesting or unique about them in the slightest. And today, there is even less off-field star power in baseball despite baseball having more young stars than at any time in recent memory.
Well, let me suggest a new name as baseball’s most interesting player: Indian’s starting pitcher Trevor Bauer. From an on-field standpoint, Bauer isn’t going to blow anyone away. Hell, most people might not have even heard of him. He’s a solid middle rotation starter with a career 4.27 ERA and some pretty good strikeout numbers. He’s not going to be listed anywhere near Clayton Kershaw or Max Scherzer. But this isn’t just about his on-field stuff. Bauer’s true value as a person of interest is the fact that he is borderline insane in the most fantastic way.
First, Bauer’s real claim to fame (and the reason that most of you have heard of him) is that he was the guy who tried to pitch in the ALCS after cutting his finger on a drone propeller, leading to this horrifying TV moment:
That’s right. Trevor Bauer badly cut his finger on a drone (collecting them is a hobby of his) and tried to pitch Game 2 of the 2016 ALCS with stitches in his finger. He, shockingly, did not make it out of the first inning before the stitches burst open and America was treated to that image right there. The story gets even better, though. Bauer, wanting to continue pitching that night, demanded that the Indians medical staff cauterize his finger. You know, that procedure where they burn the skin on a cut to close it up. Dude was going to try and go 5.2 innings with a finger that was now insanely bloody and had endured third degree burns. That’s god damn commitment.
That intensity follows him to his training, as well. Most managers limit their pitchers when throwing long-toss to ensure their mechanics aren’t fucked up by throwing arching balls. Bauer takes the opposite approach, though, throwing from up to 400 feet away. He says the further away he throws, the more velocity he gets on his pitches. It’s hard to argue with a guy who touched 117 mph in the off-season.
Incredible 117 mph pitch by Trevor Bauer 😮😮
— MLB Memes (@MLBMeme) January 11, 2018
You can even tell from that sound he makes there that there is some kind of extra intensity to him that no one else has. He may be harder on himself and his own mistakes than anyone I’ve ever seen play a sport, and it really shows both on and off the field.
Bauer is also an asshole on Twitter, but not in a douchey Kevin Durant way. It’s somehow endearing while still being annoying.
You sound high maintenance. I’m not so good at maintenance…as all your fellow cub fans love to joke about, so I’m going to have to decline your request
— Trevor Bauer (@BauerOutage) April 25, 2018
lol ummm. Lol yeah. You say that to one of the most scientific baseball players in MLB. Ok lol
— Trevor Bauer (@BauerOutage) February 10, 2017
He even found a way to be an asshole when it came to charity. He initially asked for $6.9 million in arbitration this past off-season because, you know, 69. When the MLB said that was too high, he settled for around $6.5 million. In an effort to make sure America knew how good his 69 joke was, though, he then launched a “69 days of giving” campaign in which he donated $420.69 to charity every day for 68 days before donating $69,420.69 on the 69th day, somehow finding a way to combine a 420 reference and a 69 reference into one charitable endeavor. That is true dedication to trolling.
Next time you get a chance to watch Bauer pitch, do it. I promise you it will be worth it. He’s coming off a 6.2 inning, 8 K win over the Cubs in which he gave up a single run, so you’re probably going to see some decent pitching. You’re also going to see a guy who cares more about his craft and holds himself to a higher standard than anyone else you’ll meet. He doesn’t have the stats to be in the spotlight, yet, but his personality and off-field antics put him in the running for the most interesting guy in a sport that desperately needs them. You keep doing you, Trevor.
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