Forgiving Yankees fans awed by 100 mph closer
The raised voices, the gasps, the screams of disbelief that have followed Aroldis Chapman since the day he first put on pinstripes are not born of outrage or disgust. Just the opposite. Chapman served a 30-game suspension for domestic-violence allegations this season, but was neither arrested nor charged. And when Chapman takes the mound at Yankee Stadium, as the closer did Friday night to protect a 5-3 lead over the Twins, people no longer seem interested in the ugly incidents of the past.
The only thing fans are fixated on is the scoreboard, and particularly the radar gun, which crackled Friday with triple-digits: 101 ... 102 ... 103 ... 104.
Whatever initial shock the baseball public displayed at the Yankees’ trade for Chapman in January has almost completely dissolved to awe. The transformation from accused domestic abuser to bullpen marvel is just about complete. Not only that, but should the Yankees choose to trade Chapman in the next month, there also will be no shortage of suitors.
Six months ago, Chapman was radioactive, with the Dodgers choosing to walk away from an agreed trade with the Reds when the domestic-violence allegations first surfaced. But the Yankees, after what general manager Brian Cashman described as exhaustive research into the Oct. 30 incident involving Chapman and his girlfriend, turned out to be comfortable acquiring him.
“I think we mentally prepared for turbulence,” Cashman said Friday. “But I think we took the approach of being very honest in how we communicated about it, and whatever was going to occur was going to occur.”
It’s worth revisiting the Yankees’ process, along with Chapman’s current rock-star status in the Bronx, in light of the Mets signing Jose Reyes, who just served a 52-game suspension for alleged domestic abuse, to a minor-league contract.
There are some important distinctions to make, as detailed by the police reports. Reyes was arrested on Halloween in Maui for alleged domestic abuse, and his wife, Katherine, was treated at a hospital for her injuries. Charges were dropped after Reyes’ wife refused to cooperate for the trial.
Chapman’s case didn’t make it that far. According to the Davie, Fla., police, Chapman allegedly fired eight gunshots in his garage after an argument with his girlfriend, who accused him of choking her and later was found hiding in the bushes. Chapman told police that he had “poked” her on the left shoulder during the verbal altercation.
Major League Baseball, after its independent examination of the details — including an interview with Chapman — decided to suspend him for 30 games, making Chapman the first player disciplined under the sport’s new Joint Domestic Violence policy.
Chapman declined his right to appeal Manfred’s ruling. But he did not necessarily agree with it, nor did he explicitly admit any wrongdoing.
“We’re happy to have him,” Cashman said. “He’s been a very productive member of our team . ... He handled the circumstances as well as you could ask somebody.”
Aroldis Chapman was suspended after domestic-violence allegations.