With the Yankees in something of a youth movement (or at least the well-heeled club’s version thereof), and with Chapman having helped Chicago win a long-awaited World Series title, Yankees co-owner Hal Steinbrenner claims he is among the most popular players on the team. But there is still that matter of the October 2015 incident, when Chapman’s girlfriend accused the then-Reds player of pushing and choking her before he went into his garage and fired his gun eight times.
Or does that matter anymore? Steinbrenner, who co-owns the team with his brother Hank, expects everyone to “forget” all about it, assuming they thought it was a big deal in the first place.
“Quite frankly it was manageable the minute he got here last year,’’ Steinbrenner said Thursday (via USA Today). “He was great. Look, he admitted he messed up. He paid the penalty.
“Sooner or later, we forget, right? That’s the way we’re supposed to be in life. He did everything right, and said everything right, when he was with us.’’
“I didn’t do anything,” Chapman told the media upon joining the Yankees in May 2016, after he had served an MLB-mandated 30-game suspension. “People are thinking that it’s something serious; I have not put my hands on anyone, didn’t put anyone in danger. Since I didn’t do anything like that, I’m not thinking about it. If I didn’t do anything, why should I think about it? That is in the past. Now I’m thinking about more important things: my family, kids, my career.”
Chapman was not arrested in the incident, and no charges were filed because of what authorities described as a lack of cooperation by his girlfriend, Cristina Barnea, and other witnesses. However, MLB had recently toughened its domestic-violence policy, and the 30-game ban the Cuban-American player received cost him almost $2 million in salary and required him to attend counseling.
When asked in May about the fact that Barnea had called 911 while hiding in bushes near his Florida home, Chapman said, “It was just an argument with your partner that everyone has. I’ve even argued with my mother.
“When you are not in agreement with someone, we Latin people are loud when we argue.”
The Reds were reportedly set to trade Chapman to the Dodgers when news of the incident emerged in December 2015, and after that deal was called off, the Yankees swooped in and got the reliever at a discount. Then, with Chapman playing well but New York scuffling in the standings, the team flipped him in July for a package that included Gleyber Torres, one of the top prospects in all the minor leagues.
After helping the Cubs win their first championship since 1908, Chapman promptly returned to the Yankees on a five-year, $86 million contract. His 105-mph fastball will undoubtedly have fans of the Bronx Bombers cheering, but Steinbrenner may be overestimating the willingness, or ability, of people to forget all about the pitcher’s troubling episode.