Ah, thaaat’s better: the old, values-free, win-at-any-price New York Yankees we’ve grown to know and hate.
The Yankees today announced the acquisition of left-hander Aroldis Chapman from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for four minor league prospects of no great note. Chapman is arguably the most dominating late inning closer in baseball, as well as its hardest throwing pitcher: the left-hander averaged 99.5 mph on his fastball last season, and threw more balls in excess of 100 mph than all other major league pitchers combined. So why were the Yankees able to acquire him so cheaply?
Well, it’s because Chapman was regarded as virtually untradable due to his being investigated by MLB for choking his girlfriend, and this was not the first instance where he was involved in alleged domestic violence. The Dodgers had a trade for Chapman in place earlier this month, but pulled out when the team learned the details of the choking incident. (As usual, the girlfriend refused to press charges, and is gambling that she’ll end up rich rather than dead.) Most believe that Major League Baseball will suspend Chapman for up to 40 games under its new domestic violence policies.
Hey, but after that little hiccup, Yankee fans, the Pinstripes will have three beasts in the bullpen to close out games, with the three highest strikeout percentages in all of baseball from 2014-15 in Chapman (46.3 percent), Andrew Miller (41.6 percent) and Dellin Betances (39.5 percent)! What’s a little girlfriend choking when you can get talent like that?
It’s funny, isn’t it? Pete Rose has been decisively banned because he gambled on baseball and lied about it; his association with the game under such a cloud is considered unacceptably damaging to baseball’s integrity and values. In Washington, D.C., the Nationals are desperately trying to get rid of closer Jonathan Papelbon, whom the fans revile for putting a hand around MVP Bryce Harper’s throat for a millisecond in a dugout fracas. The NFL endured months of criticism and embarrassment for shrugging off Ray Rice’s caught-on-camera cold-cocking of his girlfriend, now his enabling wife, and even though the NFL happily fields felons of all sorts every Sunday, teams have released players based on their Chapmanesque conduct. None of this matters to the most storied sports franchise in America. I mean, look at that bullpen! This is great!
With domestic abuse a serious and deadly problem in this country, no kid with a Yankee cap should be cheering a domestic abuser. Nobody should be cheering a franchise that goes out of its way to acquire an abuser, either.
This was an ugly, cynical move that harms the team, the city and the sport.
Finally, a substantive reason to root against the Yankees!
(Other than Alex Rodriquez, of course.)