Trevor Bauer is today to pitch his first official game for the Yokohama DeNA BayStars, and to promote the start, a local department store is to unveil a seven-story poster of the former Cy Young winner on the building’s facade.
Bauer was unwanted this season by MLB teams — at least no club signed him, although he was eligible to play — after claims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
However, he is a baseball celebrity in this famous port city in Japan, with few questions asked about his past — and his answers readily accepted.
Small replica posters of the department store version dot train stations around town spelling out “Bauer” in English with the message in Japanese: “He’s here.”
“My face is too big,” Bauer said recently, breaking into a seldom-seen laugh with reporters. “It’s very cool. It’s very cool. Growing up as a kid you see professional athletes and movie stars on billboards like that; kind of cool for me to be there myself.”
Bauer was earlier this year released by the Los Angeles Dodgers after an arbitrator reduced his unprecedented 324-game suspension to 194 games for contravening the league’s domestic violence and sexual assault policy.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred suspended Bauer in April last year after a San Diego woman said he beat and sexually abused her in 2021.
Bauer disputed her claims and said that everything that happened between them was consensual.
He was never charged with a crime and a California judge found the woman’s claims “materially misleading.”
His past has not followed him to Japan. Many Japanese know the basics, but do not seem to care. Others say he was not convicted in a court. Some know little at all, and for most fans, it is strictly about baseball.
“The Japanese people know that Trevor Bauer had a domestic violence problem in the United States,” said Fumihiro Fujisawa, the president of Japan’s Association of American Baseball Research.
He said that signing Bauer came down to a business deal with both sides seeing a “win-win.”
There has been no sign of women’s right groups targeting him in Japan, where issues of gender inequality often receive limited attention.
The mainstream Japanese media has also reported little about Bauer’s troubles back home.
“We need Bauer power,” said Kazuo Maeda, adding that Bauer could be his last chance to see Yokohama win its first league title in 25 years.
“I’m 75 and I want to see a championship. There’s not much time left for me. We know about the domestic violence [allegations], but no one has proved it,” Maeda added. “A little fake news.”
Bauer still receives a salary from the Dodgers for this season and is savvy at marketing. He is all over social media, and a recent post on his YouTube channel racked up 1.1 million views.
Bauer and the team have established the “Trevor Bauer Official Fanclub,” but joining is pricey. A “VIP” membership is ￥2.2 million (US$16,398) for the season. A “deluxe” membership is ￥330,000.
The perks include everything from a “special observation seat” to limousine service to the game. At the lower end are an “autographed actual-wear uniform,” an autographed ball and other “original goods.”
Bauer, who is reported to be paid US$4 million for the one-year deal, is also promoting his own merchandise and club offerings.
Hundreds of fans have been seen at his minor-league preparation games wearing his No. 96 jersey.
A new glove has “sword” written on the side, a reference to the samurai sword motion he often performs after striking out a batter. With both hands, he pretends to thrust the imaginary sword into an imaginary sheath on his left hip.
Fans have lined up outside the stadiums for three minor league games — mostly men, but plenty of women — to catch a glimpse or an autograph.
Sayaka Chiba and Saya Ikeya — 20-year-old women — jumped and screamed when Bauer walked across a stadium parking lot.
“Bauer is cool,” Sayaka said, immediately imitating Bauer’s sword routine.
Asked about the domestic violence charges in the US, she added: “I see him as a baseball player, but, yes, what happened does matter a little bit to me.”
Sean Atkinson, retired from the US Navy and a fan who attended about 50 Yokohama games last season, summed up Bauer’s appeal.
“The Japanese are going crazy for Bauer,” Atkinson said. “All you have to say is Cy Young winner.”
Brian Rioux, a retired US Marine, said he has a 20-year-old daughter and, although he is a Yokohama fan who went to more than 70 games last year, he is torn.
“I have mixed feelings,” he said at a recent minor-league game near Yokosuka, the home of the US Seventh Fleet. “Of course with something like this, I would take my daughter’s side. I don’t know how I’d react.”
“But of course, we are all on the outside of this story,” he added.
A leading Australian equestrian’s buildup to a fourth Olympics was thrown into disarray yesterday after he was stood down from competition for wearing a “mankini” swimsuit during a showjumping event. Three-time Olympic medalist Shane Rose wore the skimpy fluorescent orange outfit — popularized in the movie Borat — on his horse during a competition near Sydney earlier this month where riders were encouraged to wear “extraordinary costumes.” Rose, 50, said on social media that he had been stood down by governing body Equestrian Australia (EA) while it conducts a review after receiving complaints. “I am truly sorry if I have offended anyone,” Rose
Officials from the South Korean national soccer association (KFA) yesterday recommended that Jurgen Klinsmann be fired as head coach of the South Korea national team after their semi-final exit at the Asian Cup and reports of infighting among star players. Klinsmann was already under heavy criticism after South Korea’s upset 2-0 semi-final loss to Jordan on Tuesday last week and pressure intensified following media reports of a spat between captain Son Heung-min and young star Lee Kang-in during the tournament. At an Asian Cup campaign review at the association’s headquarters in Seoul, the eight-member National Team Committee talked to Klinsmann via videoconference
SUPERSTAR SHOWDOWN: WNBA single-season three-point record holder Ionescu said the shoot-out would show young girls and boys that ‘if you can shoot, you can shoot’ Stephen Curry on Saturday sank his last four shots from the right corner to defeat Sabrina Ionescu 29-26 in a three-point NBA-WNBA Challenge at the NBA All-Star festivities. Ionescu set the score to beat, matching the best numbers by any player in the NBA Three-Point Contest, only for Curry to rally late for the victory, then hug Ionescu as both celebrated a successful effort. “I knew I had to get hot,” Curry said of his closing run to win the challenge champion’s belt. The first-ever shoot-out of the sexes was a groundbreaking showdown between elite guards — Golden State’s Curry, the NBA’s all-time
‘CHAOS, CRAZINESS’: Rajah Caruth said he felt like he got a bad push on the last lap, which had a 12-truck crash, but added it was ‘a good night to start the year’ With trucks wrecking and flipping behind him in overtime on Friday, Nick Sanchez claimed the first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory of his young career in the Fresh From Florida 250 at Daytona International Speedway. The race ended under caution on the second lap of the overtime after Rajah Caruth, running fourth, moved up the track and turned the No. 91 Chevrolet of Jack Wood in front of the field. Sanchez and runner-up Corey Heim were clear of the chaos, while Caruth escaped with minimal damage to run third, but behind them, the Chevy of Daniel Dye launched the Toyota of Taylor