A tale of two enigmas: Bauer and Salazar

Sports can be very puzzling at times – even for a deep thinker/philosopher/humble by any measure/borderline genius such as myself.

Take the case of former Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer and current (oops-he-went-and-got-hurt-again) pitcher Danny Salazar. Two immensely talented pitchers – one, who was so confident that he shunned any attempts (from professionals, by the way) at helping him perfect his craft (Bauer) and the other, so lacking in confidence (in my opinion)  that he is far more comfortable in the security (and relative anonymity) of the disabled list (Salazar) that it’s likely he’ll never realize his true potential.

Therefore, I found it ironic – in a twisted, Stephen King kind of way – that Salazar replaced Bauer on the Tribe roster when Bauer was traded.

Have you ever noticed that when any athlete who is even a little bit “unusual” is going well (does anyone remember Albert Belle?) he’s just regarded as “quirky” or simply “so-in-so being so-in-so?” But just as quickly, when the wheels come off – and they inevitably do with all athletes – they become (in the eyes of the fan) rude, obnoxious, even chemically dependent (does anyone remember Joey Belle)?

In all actuality, the above example applies to most places of employment – not just the sports arena. I’m sure most readers can think of instances where the antics of specific employee(s) were/are tolerated, while you’re left thinking, “If I did that, I’d be out the door.” (Come to think of it, I get that very feeling every time I submit a column for the Observer.)

Most of the time, a person’s antics are overlooked because, despite their boorish behavior, they bring something to the table that makes tolerating them worth the trouble. And sometimes, it’s simply because they happen to be the boss’s nephew. (Hey, nobody ever said life was fair, so suck it up, buttercup).

Trevor Bauer had enough on the plus side for the Diamondbacks, Indians, and now Reds, to put up with his antics. Before his career is over, his talent dictates that several more teams will probably give him a shot before his career winds down. Talent outweighs quirkiness, every time.

Which is why Danny Salazar is still a Cleveland Indian. Well, that and the fact that he’s still on a club-friendly contract, but you get my point.

Danny Salazar is much the same as Trevor Bauer, but Danny’s story is eons away from Trevor’s after you agree that he was/is immensely talented – as much or more so than Bauer. If Danny’s demons are all internal, then you want to root for him because he’s battling issues that transcend sports.

Most fans forget that Danny Salazar was the star of the future – light years ahead of Trevor Bauer when Tito Francona chose Salazar to start the Tribes one-and-done AL Wildcard playoff game way back in 2013. In many ways, that was the pinnacle of success for Danny Salazar. Then the problems began to creep in …

To the best of my recollection, he hasn’t had an injury-free (defined by no trips to the disabled list) year since he’s been in the major leagues. His injuries are not of the recurring variety either; they are usually something different each time (so I guess we should give him points for originality).

Personally, I’m shocked the Indians activated him – a guy who hadn’t pitched in the bigs since 2017 – while they are in a playoff hunt. At the same time, they no-doubt want to know if they should invest any more time (and money) in a guy whose star is (rapidly) fading.

The fact that Danny injured himself, yet again, in his first game back has – in a purely practical sense – answered that question for me.

I hope I’m wrong, but I doubt he has many chances left.

Jeff Bing

Lifelong Westlake resident who dabbles in writing whenever the real world permits. My forte is humor and horror...What a combo!

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Volume 11, Issue 15, Posted 10:09 AM, 08.06.2019