Aroldis Chapman says he’ll appeal any suspension under the domestic violence policy

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As most are aware, Yankees reliever Aroldis 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, however, and no charges were filed. From a law enforcement perspective, the matter is over.

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 and it has entered into an agreement with its employees which allows it to impose discipline arising out of domestic violence situations even if the employee is not charged with a crime. To that end, the league continues to investigate the Chapman case and may very well suspend Chapman.

Today, as pitchers and catchers reported to spring training in Tampa, Chapman was asked about the situation and he said he will appeal if he is suspended under MLB’s new domestic violence policy, as is his right. If and when that happens, it will be a really big deal for Major League Baseball, Chapman and the new domestic violence policy.

Chapman was not the first player to have been involved in a domestic violence incident after the policy was enacted. Jose Reyes was. But given that Reyes’ case is going to trial, MLB may wait longer to impose discipline on him. That could mean that Chapman will be the first and, as the first, his case will take on tremendous significance.

The policy sets forth no minimum or maximum penalty. Rather, Rob Manfred must issue the discipline “he believes is appropriate in light of the severity of the conduct.” He is unshackled by anything other than his conscience. The discipline he imposes on Chapman, if any, will set a precedent by which all future domestic violence incidents are judged. There will be obvious adjustments for the facts and circumstances of each case, but Chapman is setting the bogey. Likewise, Chapman’s appeal will set the precedent for the breadth of Manfred’s discretion and will signal to all players whether a vigorous appeal and all that entails makes sense.

This is a big, big moment for Rob Manfred. Punish Chapman heavily in order to send a message and an arbitration panel could undercut him. Punish Chapman too lightly and he runs the risk of appearing to be soft on domestic violence. All of this is magnified by the fact that Chapman is a superstar player on the league’s marquee franchise and it will covered by more reporters than you can shake a stick at.

My guess would be that Manfred goes heavy, anticipating that a panel may back some time off of the suspension, leaving Chapman with a sentence the league can live with. But we really don’t know. I wonder if even Manfred knows what he’ll do yet.

MLB crowds jump from ’21, still below pre-pandemic levels

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PHOENIX — Even with the homer heroics of sluggers like Aaron Judge and Albert Pujols, Major League Baseball wasn’t able to coax fans to ballparks at pre-pandemic levels this season, though attendance did jump substantially from the COVID-19 affected campaign in 2021.

The 30 MLB teams drew nearly 64.6 million fans for the regular season that ended Wednesday, which is up from the 45.3 million who attended games in 2021, according to baseball-reference.com. This year’s numbers are still down from the 68.5 million who attended games in 2019, which was the last season that wasn’t affected by the pandemic.

The 111-win Los Angeles Dodgers led baseball with 3.86 million fans flocking to Dodger Stadium for an average of 47,672 per contest. The Oakland Athletics – who lost 102 games, play in an aging stadium and are the constant subject of relocation rumors – finished last, drawing just 787,902 fans for an average of less than 10,000 per game.

The St. Louis Cardinals finished second, drawing 3.32 million fans. They were followed by the Yankees (3.14 million), defending World Series champion Braves (3.13 million) and Padres (2.99 million).

The Toronto Blue Jays saw the biggest jump in attendance, rising from 805,901 fans to about 2.65 million. They were followed by the Cardinals, Yankees, Mariners, Dodgers, and Mets, which all drew more than a million fans more than in 2021.

The Rangers and Reds were the only teams to draw fewer fans than in 2021.

Only the Rangers started the 2021 season at full capacity and all 30 teams weren’t at 100% until July. No fans were allowed to attend regular season games in 2020.

MLB attendance had been declining slowly for years – even before the pandemic – after hitting its high mark of 79.4 million in 2007. This year’s 64.6 million fans is the fewest in a non-COVID-19 season since the sport expanded to 30 teams in 1998.

The lost attendance has been balanced in some ways by higher viewership on the sport’s MLB.TV streaming service. Viewers watched 11.5 billion minutes of content in 2022, which was a record high and up nearly 10% from 2021.