Why Trevor Bauer says Mike Fiers speaking up on Astros 'good for' MLB

Why Trevor Bauer says Mike Fiers speaking up on Astros 'good for' MLB

The Houston Astros' cheating scandal rocked MLB this offseason after they admitted wrongdoing during the 2017 World Series run.

Those involved -- both on the team and those impacted by what had happened -- have made their views clear. Cincinnati Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer has been vocal about his feelings toward the electronic sign-stealing and has stressed the importance of speaking out.

Not just for him, but for A's pitcher Mike Fiers.

Bauer, who raised suspicions of the Astros' success years ago, supported Fiers, the original whistleblower who spoke on the record to The Athletic back in November about what was happening in Houston.

"If Mike Fiers doesn’t come out and say something, nothing gets done," Bauer told The Athletic on Friday. "Nothing -- even though all the players know this shit is going on, it’s the worst kept secret in baseball. If no one says anything, then nothing gets done -- no one says anything publicly because reports have been given to the league for multiple years."

"I know a lot of people, or some people had been like, ‘Oh, well he should’ve said something when he was on the team’ or whatever," Bauer continued. "It’s just so unrealistic because he’d be banned, blackballed from the game. I don’t blame him at all for not saying something then. I’m happy he finally came out and said something."

Bauer said what Fiers did was "good for baseball."

It was, and it is.

Players are speaking out about how pissed off they are, and that's important for fans and players alike to see.

Oakland pitcher Sean Manaea wasn't impressed with the way Houston owner Jim Crane and the Astros handled themselves in their sparse attempt at an apology on Thursday. Los Angeles Dodgers superstar Cody Bellinger made it clear it was beyond just a World Series trophy the Astros tainted, but an AL MVP Award that was given to Jose Altuve the same year it should have gone to Yankees slugger Aaron Judge.

[RELATED: A's Tony Kemp claims he didn't partake in Astros' cheating scandal]

Bauer's feud with the Astros, specifically third baseman Alex Bregman, started a couple of seasons ago while Bauer was with Cleveland. A Twitter beef that began minute turned into a slew of thinking emojis and the implication that Astros pitchers, known for their high-spin rate during that 2017 World Series run, could be using foreign substances. 

Those thinking emojis seem less passive now, and more of a "Eureka!" moment. Bauer isn't one to hold back.

It's nice to see Fiers receiving additional support from those beyond his teammates and manager Bob Melvin. We can assume more players will speak out in support of him, and against what Houston did. 

"Ultimately, on a wider scale, the players as a whole, we need more strength and leadership at the top," Bauer said. "I think that’s the position that he took, which is important."

A's president Dave Kaval offers stadium update after deferred payment


A's president Dave Kaval offers stadium update after deferred payment

The A’s deferred a $1.2 million rental payment due to the Oakland Coliseum in April.

The A’s provided a statement to NBC Sports California and said the Coliseum “has been unable to make the Coliseum available for use by the A's." The team’s president Dave Kaval spoke to The San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser for the first time about the payment that was due on April 1 and confirmed the reasoning behind it was due to lack of use.

“Being able to use the facility is obviously very critical,” Kaval said. “We’ve been adhering to the provisions of the lease, which specifically state the payment is due when you can actually use it. ... Hopefully, we can get in there and start training; some other teams already have been doing that and we haven’t been able to.”

Kaval also mentioned to The Chronicle there is a chance for a rent reduction if a scenario for a shortened season is played out as the current agreement is on a per-game basis. 

 “You pay the full amount and then there is adjustment based on how many games you play,” he said.

[RELATED: A's might have delay in 2023 targeted ballpark opening]

For now, there is no final decision on a 2020 season. After roughly four weeks of negotiations between MLB and the Players Association, the union called for a 114-game season that would begin on June 30 and end Oct. 31. While there are more details to the recent proposal including the health and safety of the players, time is ticking for that date.

There’s a possibility should the season start this year, it would happen without fans which is something Kaval is aware of and fully embraces. He’s ensuring the Coliseum is adhering to safety precautions and county guidelines. 

Bruce Maxwell's Colin Kaepernick kneel still sparks hate, misunderstanding

Bruce Maxwell's Colin Kaepernick kneel still sparks hate, misunderstanding

Programming note: Tune in to "Race in America: A Candid Conversation" on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m. this week on NBC Sports Bay Area and streaming here.

Like Colin Kaepernick, he is a black man who saw injustice and was compelled to respond.

Unlike Kaepernick, his chosen field is dominated by whites.

Like Kaepernick, he imperiled his career over a matter of principle.

Unlike Kaepernick, he has been largely forgotten.

Bruce Maxwell is neither bitter nor regretful. He is scarred. And when he speaks, it is with a strong sense of emotional fatigue. As if he has been through the fire and accepts that the burns upon him will ache forever.

“I still have the messages,” he says. “I had a kid the other day come out on my team and just said, ‘Eff you,’ on my Instagram. He was like, ‘People like you are the problem that we have in this country.’ I had a guy reach out to me last year ... in the middle of my season, down here in Mexico, that told me that he hopes me and my family die a horrible death. I still get ...

“Three years and I still get it. It's the hate. It's the hate.”

Maxwell was speaking this week as a panelist on an NBC Sports Bay Area roundtable discussion, “Race in America: A Candid Conversation,” in reaction to global outrage after George Floyd was asphyxiated beneath the knee of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. This was the latest example of the conduct Maxwell had hoped to eradicate.

On Sept. 23, 2017, Maxwell, a biracial catcher for the Oakland A’s, decided to bring attention to police brutality afflicting the black community. Following the lead of Kaepernick, Maxwell dropped to one knee during the playing of the national anthem before an A’s-Rangers game at the Oakland Coliseum.

“I was just going into a year in the league,” he says. “I was a nobody. I was still technically a rookie. I didn't have millions of dollars in the bank, but this was much bigger than my paycheck.”

With baseball being a sport that generally tilts to the political right, Maxwell might as well have put a bullet into the leg of his Major League career.

Maxwell finished the season with the A’s and, with 109 games on his resume, all with Oakland, hoped to compete for a job in 2018. Five weeks after kneeling for the anthem, he was arrested in Scottsdale, Ariz., and initially charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon – pointing a gun at a food deliverer – and disorderly conduct. In July 2018, after pleading guilty disorderly conduct, Maxwell was sentenced to two years' probation.

A bullet into the other leg of his career. Maxwell appeared 18 games in 2018 and saw his statistics decline for a third consecutive season. He was not re-signed by the A’s that November and has not since been signed by any of the 30 MLB teams.

Maxwell, 29, took his career to Mexico, where last season he was an All-Star, posting a .325/.407/.559 slash line, with 24 home runs and 112 RBIs in 109 games with Acereros de Monclova of the Mexican League.

Though the light that represents MLB gets a little smaller every day, Maxwell, 29, hasn’t given up. He’d love another chance at the bigs. He also realizes his social-justice moment has become a burden that can’t be rinsed off his back.

And he’s OK with that. Indeed, the Floyd tragedy causes Maxwell to relive his own experience, all while the resultant global outrage -- the rioting and looting and increasingly violent police response -- simultaneously drops a knot into his belly.

“I have so many raw emotions about this,” he says. “All I can see is everybody, including George Floyd, I can see everything that came before him. I see Breonna Taylor (an African-American EMT shot in her bed in Louisville on March 13) sleeping in her bed peacefully. I see everything. And it's so many ways to feel and you can't really put it into words.”

[RELATED: Maxwell details mental toll of kneeling in "HEADSTRONG"]

What seems to bother Maxwell most is not what he might have given up, or what he might never again have. It’s the lack of progress on an issue that, in all humanity, should not be an issue at all.

“Nobody wants to see the message,” he says. “All they see is who's doing the stance. It's difficult to comprehend. It's sometimes difficult to stay on that path, but at the same time, it makes it worth the fight because these things need to happen for change to commence in the world that we live in.”

Maxwell dared to make a highly visible but inarguably peaceful protest for a cause any human must consider just. He did it on a baseball field, which takes monumental courage.

Bruce Maxwell should be remembered. Forever. As will Colin Kaepernick.