Thoughts on the Aroldis Chapman Trade

In the days and weeks heading up to the trade deadline, I kept hearing Aroldis Chapman’s name associated with the Cubs.  Most of these rumors don’t come to fruition, and while it’s fun to dream about having good players come your way in the middle of the year, this was not fun.

I’ve greatly enjoyed watching this Cubs team form and grow over the years, and much of my enjoyment comes from seeing the camaraderie.  This team has such a captivating dynamic that it was easy to root for everyone to succeed.  It’s not just that they are a good team, but they seemed like good people, too.  In my mind, Chapman threatens that dynamic.

When the trade became finalized, I was extremely upset and sad.  I can honestly say that this was more disappointing and disheartening than our loss to the Mets in the NLCS last year.  Aroldis is the antithesis of what my Cubs team has been.  But it’s more than that.  It’s not really his fault that he’s a current member of the Cubs.

What really bugged me about it is that Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein thought it was okay to bring someone of his character into our locker room.  It said to me that this team was willing to win “at all costs.”  It doesn’t matter what the player did in his personal life as long as he can play ball better than the guy he’d be replacing on the roster.

It’s been well documented in other sources, but for those that don’t know Chapman was involved in a domestic abuse call last October.  Reports of the incident say that he grabbed his girlfriend/mother of his young child by the neck and threw her down then proceeded to go to his garage and fired 8 shots from a gun he kept in the glove compartment in a fit of rage.

There were other people in the house, including the young child, and some say the mother was not grabbed but ultimately that’s not really the point.  Whether it was physical or mental, this is clearly abuse.  When you make someone so scared of you that they run and hide in the neighbor’s bushes until the cops arrive, that is still abuse.

I think everyone feels more strongly about some crimes over others.  Personally, I have extremely low tolerance for these three where I believe others would not share my level of contempt:  Domestic Abuse, Animal Abuse, and Drunk Driving.  I can see no possible rationale for any of those scenarios and I don’t know how I could ever consider someone who performed these acts to be a person of good moral character.

In the case of Chapman, no charges were filed, but police reports were.  It’s understandable that family and friends wouldn’t want to go against their meal ticket or that the mother of his child may want to make her life “easier” on herself by avoiding a backlash from pressing charges.

Anyway, Jed and Theo decided that this was the kind of guy they wanted on their team.  And it pissed me off.  I think it sends a poor message.

Now, you can say that Chapman served his time, and legally that’s very much true since he was never tried or convicted.  But the odds that he’s a changed man are very low in my mind.  I understand that Cubs management had a conversation with him before the trade was completed where he promised to be a good boy.  Whether Chapman remembers that conversation or not doesn’t matter.  It bugs me that the Cubs say they wouldn’t have made the deal without that phone call, as if it actually made a difference.  The guy wants to play professional baseball and wants a shot at the playoffs every year.  Do you really think he’s going to say “No, it’s not out of my system. I might do something stupid again.”?  Just admit that you don’t care about the segment of your fan base that does care about these things and you wanted him regardless because he can throw really, really fast.  “Can you throw really, really fast still?”  “Yes.”  “Welcome to the team. Please try not to hurt anyone or get in tro–” <Click>

It’s also disheartening to hear Joe Madden’s reaction to the situation.  “We’ve all been less than perfect.”  Way to minimize and de-legitimize it, buddy.  That quote is an example of someone being less than perfect.  There are so many ways to get around this issue.  You can say “no comment.”  You can say you weren’t part of the discussions that brought him here (unless you were – I haven’t looked that up), and you’ll work with the team you’re given.  This just says you don’t find it important to care about, and that makes me say that I’ve lost some respect for you.

So, Chapman’s on our team for the season, at least.  Since the trade, I haven’t watched any games and largely avoid the news about them.  I have had a couple good conversations on twitter about the situation and through my twitter timeline I can sort of follow the team in a peripheral way.

I’m not trying to change any minds through this post.  I don’t fault anyone for rooting for the Cubs, or even for Chapman’s success.  Everyone’s different and I probably understand why you’re okay with rooting (not that anyone needs my permission).  But I’m not there, yet.  It’s very difficult for me to reconcile the idea that Chapman could be part of a World Series Cubs team and as a result be praised and celebrated for the rest of his life despite being a sub-par human being with seemingly little respect for others.  He gets to ride on the coattails of that fun, charismatic team I’ve been following into a potential historic victory.  That sits very poorly with me.  To the point that a large part of me hopes we fail this year and we lose out on Chapman in the off-season and can win it with a fully root-worthy roster in 2017.  Honestly, I would happily sacrifice success this year if it means he doesn’t get a ring.  We’ve waited this long, so I can wait a bit longer.

Still, I miss the Cubs and I want to find a way to root for them.  I may not be ready to watch the games quite yet, but I think I found a workable solution.  For the past couple days, I thought about the idea of giving to a domestic abuse charity for every save Chapman gets.  He has famously said he will not speak out against violence and has no plans to donate to charities.  (Way to show you’re making an effort and have “learned from the experience and are growing as a person as a result as you claim.)  So, if he wasn’t going to, maybe I should.

Then last night, I read this article from the Chicago Tribune where another fan had the same idea and has already acted on it.  I know this post is long, but I do encourage you to read it.

Caitlin Sweica, unbeknownst to me at the time of my “revelation,” announced she would donate $10 for every save and has already followed up on that, inspiring others to follow suit.  I’m going to do things a little bit differently.  She’s donating after every save, but I’m going to donate one lump sum after the season instead.  That will give me a bit more time to research the proper charity or charities.  I’m also going to donate $25 per regular season save (with the Cubs) and $50 for any post-season save.  That’s not an effort to “one-up” Ms. Sweica, but that’s what I financially feel comfortable giving.  I’m about to pay off my car (last payment this month!), so that will free up a good amount each month to go towards a good cause.

I might have more to say on the topic, but honestly I’m just deflated by the whole ordeal.  My mind had been racing about this for a while and even if I didn’t cover every point I wanted to make, it’s good to at least get most of it down.  Thank you for reading.

3 comments to Thoughts on the Aroldis Chapman Trade

  • I think we’re cut from the same cloth on this one. I was not and am still not happy about acquiring Chapman, especially when Andrew Miller (just as effective, longer contract & no baggage) could have cost a little more.
    I’m impressed with the way Rondon has accepted his demotion and now I am an even bigger fan.
    I can’t not watch or listen to them though. I’ve vested so much time in THIS team and 96% of the active roster on any given day are Grade A citizens. What Rizzo, Zobrist, Lester, Szczur and the rest do within the community cannot be canceled by one bad egg.
    I do not like that Jed/Theo/TomR./Joe brought Chapman in… and I hope they’ve received enough public backlash this time around that they’ll turn the other cheek next time. I’m done with the Michael Barretts, Milton Bradleys and Arolddis Chapmans of the baseball world. (But, I’m not done with this team.)

    • Jon

      That definitely makes sense. I don’t want to be done with this team, but even now it’s hard to bring myself to care enough to follow them more. Miller would have been interesting. I guess they wanted Schwarber or bust on that. It’s a gamble either way considering the injury and lack of MLB experience and the fact pitchers fall apart at random times. I’m with you that I hope the front office learned from this, but I won’t be sold until they don’t re-sign him in the off season. Time will tell…

  • […] around last year’s MLB trade deadline, I wrote this post all but denouncing the Cubs for making what I believed to be a terrible trade. I thought that the […]

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