Craig Calcaterra

New York Yankees pitcher Aroldis Chapman throws a ball during a spring training baseball workout Friday, Feb. 19, 2016, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Associated Press

Aroldis Chapman suspended 30 games under the domestic violence policy


Major League Baseball has suspended Yankees reliever Aroldis Chapman for 30 games for violation of the league’s domestic violence policy. The suspension will begin at the start of the regular season. He will be allowed to continue to train with the Yankees during spring training. While Chapman had previously said he would appeal any suspension, he has changed his mind and has agreed not to do so.

The length of the suspension — 30 games — will be hotly debated by many. Some may say that domestic violence is more serious than, say, performance-enhancing drugs, thereby justifying a stiffer penalty. Some may counter that an off-the-field transgression should not be punished as harshly as an on-the-field transgression. There will also be room for arguing that, while this suspension is 30 games, Major League Baseball is not limited from going higher in cases which it deems to be more serious than this one. And, of course, there will be debate about “seriousness” as well.

No matter where you fall on that, the facts as we know them are serious and they are this: Chapman was alleged to have pushed and choked his girlfriend in his home on October 30 before firing off at least eight gunshots in his garage. He was not arrested on that night and no charges were filed. Major League Baseball, however, has made it clear that their new domestic violence policy sets forth a higher standard than that set by law enforcement thereby allowing it to impose discipline arising out of domestic violence situations even if the player is not charged with a crime.

Another implication of a 30-game suspension: Chapman will not be suspended for so long as to prevent him from reaching free agency this year based on accrued service time. If the suspension had been in excess of 45 games he’d be under team control for one more year. Had that occurred it almost certainly would’ve resulted in an appeal from Chapman that would likely have the effect of undermining MLB’s desire to appear decisive in this case. It’s hard to imagine that such considerations were not taken into account when the penalty was decided. Indeed, this has the air of a negotiated or plea-bargained penalty, designed to make this as neat and tidy as it could be under the circumstances. For better or for worse.

Whatever you think of it, this was Major League Baseball’s first-ever suspension under its new policy. From here on out, Chapman’s 30 games will be a baseline against which all other penalties are measured.

Commissioner Rob Manfred offered the following statement:

“I asked my staff to conduct a comprehensive investigation of the incident involving Aroldis Chapman on October 30, 2015.  Much of the information regarding the incident has been made public through documents released by law enforcement.  Mr. Chapman submitted to an in-person interview with counsel present.  After reviewing the staff report, I found Mr. Chapman’s acknowledged conduct on that day to be inappropriate under the negotiated Policy, particularly his use of a firearm and the impact of that behavior on his partner.  I am gratified that Mr. Chapman has taken responsibility for his conduct, that he has agreed not to appeal the 30-game suspension, and that he has agreed to comply with the confidential directives of the Joint Policy Board established under the parties’ Policy to ensure that a similar incident does not occur in the future.”

Aroldis Chapman’s statement soon followed:

Today, I accepted a 30 game suspension from Major League Baseball resulting from my actions on October 30, 2015.  I want to be clear, I did not in any way harm my girlfriend that evening.  However, I should have exercised better judgment with respect to certain actions, and for that I am sorry.  The decision to accept a suspension, as opposed to appealing one, was made after careful consideration.  I made this decision in an effort to minimize the distractions that an appeal would cause the Yankees, my new teammates and most importantly, my family.  I have learned from this matter, and I look forward to being part of the Yankees’ quest for a 28th World Series title. Out of respect for my teammates and my family, I will have no further comment.


“Fun time’s over”

Terry Collins

Mets camp has been something of a riot for the first couple of weeks of spring training. Everyone’s loose, Cespedes is driving crazy cars, riding horses and buying hogs. It’s been silly, frankly.

Games started today, though. The Mets played an intrasquad game and now they go on to battle the enemy. To that end, manager Terry Collins had this to say to his troops:

I totally get that for Collins and his players. There is a seriousness of purpose required on the part of professional athletes. If you’re managing a team you want people to be loose, but you also want to keep a lid on zaniness which can quickly lead to a lack of focus. It’s probably the central dilemma of most managers, actually. I can’t imagine it’s easy.

At the start of a new baseball season, however, I want to remind people that fans don’t have to think that way. We’re so conditioned to speak about sports as if we’re of sports rather than merely observers. We get too mad when our teams lose and, frankly, a bit too pleased when they win. We mistake the entertainment we get from sports for some actual task we, ourselves, are undertaking. We get too serious about team loyalty and, some of us anyway, are loathe to look at the sillier and inconsequential side of sports and simply enjoy them for their own sake. Curiously, we also tend to ignore the actually serious, real-life implications of sports, but that’s another topic I suppose.

The point is that the fun may be over for Yoenis Cespedes and his convoy of ridiculousness, but it doesn’t have to be over for us. Over the course of the next eight months there will be a lot of ups and downs for everyone. A lot of bad news and good news. Many controversies and, unfortunately, tragedies in the world of baseball. But there will also be a good deal of funny nonsense. Above all else, there will be a couple thousand baseball games, the purpose of which are to entertain us.

Let’s remember not too take it all too seriously. Be nice to people in comment sections, in the bleacher seat in front of you and the barstool next to yours. When your wife or husband or significant other wants you to turn off the game to talk to them, do it. We’ll have the recap for you here in the morning. When a player on the team you root for messes up, take a moment to breathe and remember that he’s trying his best before tweeting about how much you hate him and how you wish he was never born. When a player on the team you root for hits a home run take a moment to remember his triumph is not your triumph and you didn’t just earn the right to taunt people for more than a moment. Try to be positive. Try to be zen.

It’s a game. It’s supposed to be fun. Terry Collins may not want it do be for his guys, but Terry Collins isn’t our boss. We don’t need to listen to him.

Maikel Franco broke Freddy Galvis’ windshield with a BP home run

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 2.01.30 PM

A few years back, when Jason Heyward as a rookie in Braves camp, he hit a bunch of home runs over the right field fence at the Braves’ spring training facility, denting the hoods and breaking the windshields of the cars of Braves employees. It was a lot of fun for everyone who didn’t park in that area. The Braves had fun with it as an organization too. They made a big show of putting up a canopy over the parking places to keep that from happening again and everything.

Since then, coinciding with the rise of social media, it has become a regular spring thing to get reports of similar batting practice home run-on-parked-car violence. Tweeted pictures and the like. This year is no different. We saw some of it at Cubs camp the other day in Mesa. Today we see it at Phillies camp down in Clearwater:

The only question I have is why, after all of these windshield incidents, do players and team employees still park their cars where they do? We have a general idea, after 150 years, of how far home runs can fly, do we not? We know where the foul balls go too. Maybe fans don’t have a choice of where they park all the time, but if I had a nice car and a choice, I think I’d park a minimum of 600 feet from home plate.

Maybe that means I walk farther, but it beats having to call the windshield guys.