A year ago, the Dodgers had a trade in place with the Cincinnati Reds for closer Aroldis Chapman. It blew up, however, when Yahoo’s Jeff Passan reported that Chapman had been involved in a domestic violence incident. The Dodgers, uncertain about Chapman’s status in light of a potential suspension, backed out of the deal. Which was totally understandable.
Three weeks ago, as the Dodgers faced Chapman and the Cubs during the NLCS, Jon Heyman wrote a story about the aborted trade. In it both he and his Dodgers sources made it sound like it was not just baseball uncertainty that caused them to call off the trade. Rather, it was a matter of values and ethics and uneasiness with an allegedly violent person joining the Dodgers family.
The headline: “Dodgers deserve praise for canceling Chapman deal, but it may cost them.” The upshot:
Once in a while, Dodgers people may allow themselves to think about what might have been. “Imagine how good we’d be,” one Dodgers person wondered aloud about having Chapman, in what was no more than a fleeting thought.
It’s only fleeting, because the reality is, Dodgers people instinctively and immediately knew Chapman wasn’t going to be with them once they learned of the ugly episode. No one in blue believed Chapman was the right way to go anymore. Good for them.
“Nobody did (favor getting Chapman),” Dodgers managing partner Mark Walter said before Game 2 of the NLCS here. “It wasn’t (just) ownership” . . . Ultimately, the Dodgers are a very family friendly organization, and they deserve credit for backing away. As one Dodgers person put it, “The Dodgers just don’t accept that kind of thing.”
At least they didn’t on October 16, when that story was written. Three weeks later, however, they’re totally cool with the guy:
As I’ve written before, it’s totally defensible for a team to take on Aroldis Chapman or any other player involved in a domestic violence incident. While I or any given fan can be uneasy with our favorite team employing such players and while them doing so may make us less enthusiastic about rooting for them, the clubs are in the business of winning baseball games and are going, inevitably, to do what’s best for that goal whether we like it or not. A domestic violence incident is not the basis of a permanent ban from the sport. Chapman served his time and has, by all accounts, kept his nose clean since then. We as fans may still have strong opinions about him, and clubs are taking p.r. risks in signing such players, but a baseball team is going to employ a guy who throws 102 m.p.h. About this there is no question.
This, however, is a different matter. A mere three weeks ago the Dodgers, at least according to Jon Heyman’s story, were eager to be portrayed as being somehow better than the other teams. Rather than weigh the baseball merits only and risk taking on a player with a checkered past, they explicitly said they’d not accept someone like Chapman. Now they’re going to pursue him?
Either a hell of a lot has changed in the Dodgers approach to family friendliness in a very short time or else Jon Heyman’s sources with the Dodgers don’t really and truly speak for the Dodgers’ baseball operations department.