As everyone knows by now, the newest Yankees bullpen toy Aroldis Chapman has been suspended by Major League Baseball for 30 games without pay. While the decision seems to be split amongst Yankees fans, it appears to be heralded by the baseball community.
It’s hard to argue with Rob Manfred. He definitely got it right.
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) March 1, 2016
Take away everything we know about the case. Take away the fact that the events surrounding that night are cloudy. Take away the fact that Chapman admits to firing his gun in his garage, but to the extent that it was domestic violence (which I think it still very much can be considered) is up for debate. Take away the fact that Chapman appears innocent in the eyes of the law with not enough evidence for charges to ever be brought upon him.
None of that matters.
Chapman is an employee of the New York Yankees, which means he is a representative of Major League Baseball. Manfred and the MLB put together a strict policy in regards to domestic violence, and Chapman, Jose Reyes and Yasiel Puig are the first that are going to be put under the microscope and set precedent for the rest of his tenure.
That precedent was set, and we now know that Manfred takes his policy very seriously.
He punished Chapman harshly, taking nearly $2-million out of his pocket. Chapman won’t be able to make his pinstripes debut until May 9th against the defending world champions. But he also didn’t reward the Yankees.
Chapman is arguably the best closer in the game, at worst he is in the Top Three. The Yankees got him for pennies, and when Chapman wanted to go to arbitration, they settled for a contract nearly $2-million less than what Craig Kimbrel makes. Essentially, the Yankees stole him from the Reds because the Reds couldn’t gamble on Chapman’s fate. With Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances at the back of the pen, the Yankees could.
Manfred didn’t reward that gamble by making it greater. Had he suspended Chapman another 15 or 16 games, the ol’ service clock wouldn’t start ticking and Chapman would become arbitration eligible once again, leaving him under the Yankees control. The only thing Yankees fans wanted more than no suspension was a long one, and Manfred set the tone right in between.
He had no choice but to come big. And the fact that Chapman — after weeks of saying he would appeal any suspension handed to him — decided to not appeal the final decision and take responsibility for his actions shows even more that it was the right move.
“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.” (via Pinstripe Alley)
Manfred immediately avoided becoming Roger Goodell, who for the most part has lost complete control of the NFL in regards to his make believe “protecting the shield” behavior policy. He hands out suspensions with no rhyme or reason at will, and the second they are appealed he caves. Manfred set a lengthy suspension and Chapman respected it.
Now, is 30 games the right number? As it stands right now, I have no problem with it. The coming days will decide a lot more. I would expect a suspension of less games for Puig and way more for Reyes. However, if both of those two walk away unscathed, then Manfred was simply making a point and an example of Chapman and essentially showing the same lack of backbone that has made Goodell famous. I can’t see that happening however.
I understand that for Yankees fans unaccepting of social behavior outside the game of baseball, that this is a hard pill to swallow. After all, if Chapman was innocent in the eyes of the law, why is he guilty in the eyes of Major League Baseball.
It’s simple, and if you don’t see the point, you are blinded by fandom (which I equally admire, but needs some rationality at some point). The MLB set strict guidelines and Chapman, in the eyes of Manfred’s investigation, did not follow them.
If a player on the Colorado Rockies has his medicinal marijuana card, he can legally smoke marijuana in the city of Denver. If he comes to the ballpark high and is tested, he will be suspended. Though Chapman walked away and didn’t break laws of our society, he did violate the rules of his employer. And much like you could be fired for wrong doing that you may not see as illegal in your walk of like, so can Chapman.
So, I tip my cap to Manfred. I also tip my cap to Chapman for accepting responsibility for his actions and understanding the environment in which he is in. New York isn’t a city for everyone. It seems like Chapman already made a step in the right direction in understanding that.