At the quarterly owners’ meetings on Thursday, Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner made a pointed defense of closer Aroldis Chapman, who was suspended for the first 30 games of the 2016 season following an October 2015 domestic violence incident during which he allegedly pushed and choked his girlfriend, then shot a gun eight times in his garage. She ran outside and hid in some bushes, then called 911.
Steinbrenner, Via Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports:
Quite frankly it was manageable the minute he got here last year,’’ Steinbrenner said at the quarterly owners’ meetings Thursday. “He was great. Look, he admitted he messed up. He paid the penalty. Sooner or later, we forget, right? That’s the way we’re supposed to be in life. He did everything right, and said everything right, when he was with us.’
Well, no, you don’t forget. Chapman was one of a handful of players — along with Hector Olivera, Jeurys Familia, and Jose Reyes — involved in domestic violence incidents recently and became the first player to be suspended by Major League Baseball under its new domestic violence policy. Chapman’s girlfriend did not cooperate with authorities, which is not uncommon behavior among domestic violence victims. Many fear that if their abusers are punished (fined, fired, etc.) they will retaliate against them. Victims often stay silent or change their stories in order to protect the abuser. However, Major League Baseball does not need a conviction in order to levy a punishment and, as a result, commissioner Rob Manfred levied a 30-game suspension on Chapman, attempting to make an example out of him.
The Yankees traded Chapman to the eventual World Series-winning Cubs mid-season, but brought the flame-throwing lefty back on a five-year, $86 million contract in December. As Nightengale writes, “When you can throw 105 MPH, it accelerates forgiveness.”
Steinbrenner insisted that Yankees fans “love [Chapman].” He said, “There are so few baseball players that I feel can really get fans to buy a ticket and bring their kids to their game, and he’s one of them.”
Not only does a 105 MPH fastball make a billionaire owner forgive Chapman, it makes the scores of Yankees fans across the country forgive him, too. While we can’t control whether or not other people forgive him, we can at least control whether or not he’s remembered as a miscreant.