Reds right-hander Trevor Bauer is among MLB's most vocal critics of commissioner Rob Manfred. He doesn't care for the Astros, who were caught electronically stealing signs, either.
Bauer antagonized both parties Wednesday with a pair of custom cleats honoring suspended Dodgers pitcher Joe Kelly, who threw close to Houston stars Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa late last month before mocking Correa and prompting the benches to clear.
MLB apparently stepped in and told Bauer he couldn't use his planned footwear, which in addition to a picture of Kelly making a face at Correa included the phrase, "Free Joe Kelly." ESPN reported the league threatened to have Bauer removed from his Wednesday start if he sported the cleats.
And the moment you've all been waiting for.....here's a look at my cleats for tonight's start. FREE JOE KELLY! If you want to be eligible for a chance to win these, see next tweet for details. pic.twitter.com/WR0LrNpgCC— Trevor Bauer (@BauerOutage) August 19, 2020
This past weekend, Bauer took aim at influential agent Scott Boras and MLB for trying to undermine his efforts to connect with fans via unfiltered, behind-the-scenes videos. He said Boras only "cares about himself and his ego" and reiterated prior criticisms of baseball's approach to marketing its product.
Bauer is blunt by nature and regularly involved in these kinds of online disputes. Two years ago, before the Astros were caught cheating by the league, Bauer obsessed over his theory that Houston pitchers were using pine tar to up the spin rates on their pitches and possibly even used it himself to prove his point.
When no Astros players were disciplined in the fallout of the cheating scandal, Bauer took a harsh stance on both the team and league.
"I'm not going to let them forget the fact that they are hypocrites, they are cheaters, they've stolen from a lot of other people and the game itself," Bauer told reporters in February.
It's no surprise, then, that Bauer wanted to push the envelope with his "Free Joe Kelly" cleats. It probably won't be the last stunt he tries at the expense of his enemies.
After his game, Bauer added some additional comments on Twitter about not being able to wear his cleats.
For everyone wondering why I didn’t wear the cleats tonight, @MLB threatened to eject me and suspend me and levy unprecedented fines against me if I did. I couldn’t put my teammates at risk like that. Earlier this year, MLB said players could put whatever they wanted on their— Trevor Bauer (@BauerOutage) August 20, 2020
cleats, so long as it wasn’t political or offensive. Apparently, Rob is not a fan of players following his rules, as “Free Joe Kelly” is not political and is very clearly said in jest. Just leaves me over here wondering how following the rules = ejection/suspension/fine and— Trevor Bauer (@BauerOutage) August 20, 2020
cheating your way to a World Series = no ejection/suspension/fine...y’all really know how to pick your battles... learned my lesson though. Fun is bad, cheating is good. Won’t make the same mistake twice, can promise you that pic.twitter.com/Tyh0JdjJZv— Trevor Bauer (@BauerOutage) August 20, 2020