Chicago Cubs: Aroldis Chapman deserves a second chance
In a blockbuster trade, Aroldis Chapman was traded from the New York Yankees to the Chicago Cubs. In exchange, the Yankees received top prospect Gleyber Torres packaged with Adam Warren, Billy McKinney, and Rashad Crawford.
Needless to say, this move has been met with mixed emotions from fans and reporters alike. In October of 2015, Chapman was alleged to have physically assaulted his girlfriend and fired a gun in his garage.
Chapman was never arrested or charged, but he did serve a 30-game suspension issued by Major League Baseball. After serving his suspension, Chapman returned to the mound to close games for the Yankees.
After converting 20 of 21 save opportunities with a 2.01 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, and 12.6 K/9 ratio, Chapman garnered attention from contenders around the league. The Cubs made the biggest push and wound up acquiring the hard-throwing lefty closer. That brings us to the question; should he be in this position?
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The Chicago Cubs have a reputation as being fun and lovable, and some fans are worried that Chapman’s presence may be detrimental to that environment. Furthermore, some believe he should never be allowed to pitch again.
I’m not going to condone what he allegedly did. I never will. But should his entire livelihood be stripped from him after this? We have a legal system for this kind of thing. He wasn’t charged, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he is innocent. Nonetheless, he served his suspension, and his reputation has taken a permanent hit. Should he not be allowed to work again?
I believe in second chances and I believe in redemption. When you think about the kind of person you are, do you consider yourself to be as bad as the worst thing you’ve ever done? Chapman’s own girlfriend has decided to give him a second chance. We should too.
If you decide to simply kick someone like Chapman to the curb, he is more likely to repeat heinous mistakes of the past. Is that what we want? Baseball is his livelihood; without it, he may be lost. Rather than bar him from society, we should afford him the opportunity to right his wrongs.
Chapman spoke with Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer before the trade was made, and expressed remorse. “I regret that I did not exercise better judgement and for that I am truly sorry.” Chapman said through a translator via Chicago Tribune. He has reportedly been a stand-up citizen while living in New York, and his girlfriend has given a chance to make amends. We should be open to doing the same.
You certainly don’t have to like Chapman as a person, but he took his punishment, and, like I said, his reputation will forever be tainted. Is that not enough? Should he not have the chance to turn his life around? We are taught as a society that personal accountability is important. But we are also taught that redemption is possible.
That brings us to Epstein and Hoyer. Those who are vehemently opposed to having Chapman on the team are focusing their frustrations on the front office. Yes, Chapman might not fit the “lovable” clubhouse narrative, but he undoubtedly makes this team better.
So, Cubs fans, do you want the front office to assemble the best World Series contending team possible, or would you rather they try to make the team more lovable? Major League Baseball is a business, not a popularity contest. You don’t have to like the trade, and you don’t have to like Chapman as a person, but you cannot deny that this team is better than they were a couple of days ago.
At the same time, this doesn’t mean the Cubs have sold their soul to win a championship. Epstein and Hoyer made it very clear with Chapman their expectations from him off the field. Make no mistake, he is on a short leash.
Chapman has thrown the fastest pitches ever recorded, clocking out at just over 105 mph. His K/9 ratio has been through the roof. The Cubs made this move with intentions to win the big one. You can be ecstatic if Chapman helps make that dream a reality, or you can sulk and have your feelings hurt that he still gets to play baseball. Your choice.
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I assure you, rooting for the Chicago Cubs does not mean you condone domestic violence. You’re rooting for the team, not an individual. That said, we should want Chapman to rebound as a person, not fall further backwards. Playing baseball gives him the best chance to move forward and make amends in his life. It is not our job as fans to deprive him of that opportunity.