Red Sox ace Chris Sale is latest victim of Trevor Bauer’s trash talk

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 10: Chris Sale #41 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the New York Yankees during the first inning at Fenway Park on April 10, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 10: Chris Sale #41 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the New York Yankees during the first inning at Fenway Park on April 10, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

Cleveland Indians starter Trevor Bauer lived up to his villainous reputation by trolling Boston Red Sox ace Chris Sale in regards to the Cy Young race.

Trevor Bauer‘s breakout 2018 season proved two things – he’s one of the best pitchers in baseball and one of its most outlandish villains. The Cleveland Indians pitcher has a habit of making controversial comments at the expense of players, the media, and fans. Bauer’s latest target is none other than Boston Red Sox ace Chris Sale.

The comments stem from a Sports Illustrated interview entitled “Trevor Bauer Is More Concerned With Being Right Than Being Liked.” A fitting description of a player who, by his own admission, is good at two things: throwing baseballs and pissing people off.

Sale became a target of Bauer’s venomous trash talk when the conversation turned to last year’s Cy Young Award race. Bauer firmly believes that he was the frontrunner for the award until a line drive off the bat of Chicago’s Jose Abreu fractured his right leg. Bauer was undoubtedly in the mix, owning a 12-6 record and 2.22 ERA at the time, although most people would have put Sale ahead of him. Bauer isn’t most people.

"“Sale was going to fade,” Bauer told SI, “like he always does, and I would have run away with it.”"

As it turned out, shortly after Bauer was injured, Sale joined him on the disabled list with a recurrence of the shoulder inflammation that put him on the shelf in early-August. The two DL stints limited Sale to 158 innings, short of qualifying for the ERA title and essentially knocking him out of the Cy Young race. Sale finished fourth on the ballot while Bauer was sixth.

Bauer couldn’t have predicted Sale’s ailing shoulder would limit him that much down the stretch but there’s a hint of truth to his comments about the lefty’s late-season fades. Sale’s career 3.20 ERA in the second half is notably higher than his 2.66 ERA before the break and September has historically been his worst month (3.78 ERA).

While his statement was some rationale behind it, there was no reason for Bauer to single out Sale. He honestly believes the Cy Young was his to lose if it weren’t for the injury, yet Bauer chose to criticize Sale by implying his failure to take home the hardware was inevitable based on his track record. That’s pretty bold for a pitcher who had never posted a sub-4.00 ERA or a WAR higher than 3.2 prior to last season. Sale has produced a higher WAR in every season since his abbreviated rookie year and has never owned a 4.00+ ERA in any season. By his own logic, Bauer should have regressed toward his career numbers in a larger sample to finish well behind Sale on the ballot.

It’s no surprise that Bauer called out Sale. Nobody is safe from his criticism, not even his teammates. Bauer tweeted in November that he was better than Corey Kluber, his rotation mate in Cleveland who finished third on the ballot.

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Bauer’s antics have drawn the ire of players around the league and in his own clubhouse. While he apparently sees his selfishness as a strength, those around him are growing tired of it. He even lashed out at the Indians front office by accusing them of “character assassination” during his arbitration hearing. Bauer can dish out criticism with the best of them but clearly can’t take it.

This mentality was on display in disgusting fashion in January when Bauer engaged in a social media battle with a female college student that quickly escalated to harassment. It started with Bauer trading jabs on Twitter with Houston’s Alex Bregman. An Astros fan jumped in to defend Bregman, making a fairly harmless comment about Bauer being her “least favorite person” in sports. I’m sure Bauer receives more than his fair share of harsh insults on social media but this was pretty tame. That didn’t stop Bauer from stalking the teenager’s Twitter account to dig up dirt he could fire back at her in a barrage of messages that went on for over a day.

In the SI interview, Bauer attempted to defend his actions by claiming he was standing up to a bully. Seriously? A grown man calls a young girl a bully simply because she’s not a fan of his and that makes it ok to bombard her with messages that bring her to tears? That’s an insane argument that makes Bauer look like a sociopath.

It can be refreshing when a player speaks his mind rather than resorting to the canned responses we’re used to hearing from athletes. MLB needs an infusion of personality from its stars. However, there’s a big difference between keeping it 100 and being a jerk.

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There’s nothing wrong with Bauer claiming he’s the best pitcher in the league or that he should have won the Cy Young. A bit arrogant but the confidence is admirable. Bauer is starting to emerge as one of the league’s best pitchers but his trash talking is already legendary, for better or worse. His comments about Sale were wildly unnecessary but will probably draw no more than an eye roll from Boston’s ace. It’s nothing more than a cocky young player running his mouth. A little trash talk to ignite competition is fine, so long as it doesn’t cross the line. Bauer’s problem is that he doesn’t seem to recognize where the line is. Or worse, he simply doesn’t care.