Aroldis Chapman throwing a 99-mph fastball is nothing new, but that pitch sailing wide of the catcher and ripping through the protective netting behind home plate is a scary thought for the people paying big bucks for those seats.
That’s exactly what happened last night at Wrigley Field, although luckily no one was sitting directly behind the plate and (as shown by Chris Calo’s screen shot) the shredded netting was the only thing harmed by Chapman’s heat.
Chapman reined in his fastball enough to strike out two batters in a scoreless inning against the Cubs, giving him a 1.40 ERA and ridiculous 34 strikeouts in 19 innings since returning from the disabled list.
As for avoiding future incidents of the protective netting not being able to protect against Chapman’s fastball, I suppose all the ballparks could double-up with a second layer just to be safe. Or maybe it was an isolated incident in which the Wrigley Field netting already had a slight tear that made it weaker than usual. After all, while Chapman has MLB’s fastest fastball last night was hardly the first baseball–whether thrown or fouled back–to make contact with the netting traveling in the high-90s.
Fellow second basemen Javier Baez of the Cubs and D.J. LeMahieu of the Rockies got into a disagreement in the top of the third inning of Sunday’s game at Coors Field over sign-stealing.
LeMahieu reached on a fielder’s choice ground out, then advanced to second base on Charlie Blackmon‘s single. While Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story were batting, Baez was concerned that LeMahieu was relaying the Cubs’ signs to his teammates. Baez decided to stand in front of LeMahieu to block any information he might have been giving to Arenado and Story. LeMahieu got irritated and the two jawed at each other for a bit. Umpires Vic Carapazza and Greg Gibson had to intervene to tell Baez to knock it off.
There has always been a back-and-forth with alleged sign-stealing. As long as teams aren’t using technology to steal signs, it’s fair game for players to relay information to their teammates about the opposing team’s signs. Last year, MLB determined the Red Sox went against the rules and used technology — an Apple watch in this case — to steal signs from the Yankees. Other teams in the past have been accused of using binoculars from the bullpen to steal signs. In this particular case with Baez and LeMahieu, there was no foul play going on, just Baez trying to make the Rockies cede what he perceived to be their slight competitive advantage.
The Cubs went on to beat the Rockies 9-7 on Sunday.