This was originally published at Missing Filter by Basic Pitch on September 12, 2016.
Aroldis Chapman accepted and served a 30-day suspension to start the 2016 season for violating MLB’s new domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse policy. On October 30, 2015, Chapman reportedly fired eight shots inside his garage after an altercation with his girlfriend at his home in Florida. While no one was injured by the gunfire despite a bullet being found in the adjoining home and another in a field outside, it is also reported that during the altercation Chapman attempted to choke his girlfriend. According to the police report obtained by Yahoo! Sports, no arrests were made “due to a lack of cooperation from all parties”. The news of this incident forced the Los Angeles Dodgers to back out of a trade to acquire Chapman from the Cincinnati Reds. Chapman was eventually acquired by the New York Yankees.
Recently the Chicago Cubs skipper, Joe Maddon, spoke on the acquisition of Aroldis Chapman, the flame-throwing closer his organization received in trade from the Yankees. On the topic of Chapman’s previous suspension, Maddon said: “We’ve all been less than perfect.” Maddon’s words imply that to expect a man to not physically threaten and harm his loved ones is expecting him to be “perfect”. Obviously, if we’re expecting perfection, our expectations are out of line with reality, unreasonable, and easily ignored. Is this really the case? Is an expectation they don’t commit intimate partner assault too much to expect from sports heroes?
Chapman is not the only and certainly not the first to have his terrible sins ignored in favor of his breathtaking athletic ability. He’s not even the only player in the MLB to serve a suspension under the MLB’s newly implemented policy covering domestic abuse, child abuse, and sexual assault in its first year. NY Mets shortstop Jose Reyes and Hector Olivera formerly of the Atlanta Braves both served lengthy suspensions under the same policy. Despite his suspension, Chapman was celebrated upon his return to baseball, many quickly forgetting about the altercation that had caused his suspension. Reyes was immediately released by the Rockies after the suspension but welcomed back to the Mets with wide open arms shortly thereafter. Only Hector Olivera suffered further consequences and was released immediately after being traded to the San Diego Padres. It also happens to be true that Olivera was a below average player with only two years in the MLB, Chapman and Reyes have had far more successful careers.
This is why it is sometimes problematic to be a woman and a baseball fan. As exciting as it is to watch the team you love accomplish feats of athletic strength and wonder, it is devastating to discover that some of them, as Joe Maddon put it, are “less than perfect” and the organization that says it wants me as a fan and consumer values their ability to perform above the lives and safety of their victims. Their abuse is called a “mistake” implying that they weren’t really responsible for the pain they’ve caused.
Aroldis Chapman is likely to close games in the World Series this year with the Chicago Cubs and maybe Jose Reyes will be turning double plays for the Mets in the post-season and how their seasons began in suspension due to the abuse of those who love them most will become naught but a footnote in the annals of baseball history. That simply isn’t ok.