First and foremost and before I say anything else on the matter, it’s worth pointing out that in domestic violence cases, the lack of official charges filed against the alleged aggressor does not equate innocence on their part. In fact, research shows that far too many domestic violence cases end without charges filed as the victim fears for their own safety should they speak against the person who just beat them, allegedly.
Which brings us to Aroldis Chapman, who, as it was announced Thursday, has avoided charges filed against him for an alleged domestic dispute back in October.
On the field, the Dodgers could definitely have used the flamethrower who makes a strong case for least hittable pitcher ever to step on an MLB mound. Pairing him with Kenley Jansen would immediately bolster a bullpen that has fallen under scrutiny on several occasions in recent years. In a vacuum, the move is a no-brainer.
We do not, however, operate in a vacuum.
Sports coverage has strayed from just performance on the playing field. Ever since Tiger Woods’ then wife put a golf club through his rear window, we’ve cared increasingly about what these guys are like away from the competition we put them on pedestals for. Say what you will about the actual movement, but this is sport in America now, and this type of coverage isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Chapman’s alleged actions are disgusting and will remain as such even while he’s closing games in pinstripes next season. If we are to accept his behavior because of his physical abilities, where do we draw the line? Furthermore, the kind of message we send to athletes with otherworldly physical talents is they remain above the law.
Ray Rice didn’t come back to the NFL because of some moral line drawn in the sand by the teams who didn’t sign him. No, his talent had waned to the point where the distraction was no longer worth dealing with. Greg Hardy’s (again, alleged) actions were much more violent, yet there he was playing for the Dallas Cowboys while owner
Red Skull Jerry Jones called him a leader in the lockeroom. Sure thing, Jerruh.
I am a Minnesota Vikings fan. The runningback on that team sat out an entire year for his actions against his son. The pictures from the case are cringeworthy, aren’t they? He literally drew blood. Yet as soon as he could, there he was, back on an NFL field and the Vikings had the nerve TO USE HIM AS THE BACKDROP FOR FAMILY DAY.
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) August 2, 2015
I’m not a huge believe in karma, but selling their soul to the devil like this couldn’t have helped as Blair Walsh (one of the NFL’s absolute best kickers) hooked his 27-yard chip shot wide left. At the very least, the Vikings’ success behind Peterson was somewhat tainted for me as with every great play I couldn’t help but remember who exactly it was I was rooting for.
Back to Chapman. We always knew how it would play out if the Dodgers decided to take the high ground and pass on acquiring him. This is how sports work. It’s simply too much to expect the most competitive industry in America to make a blanket statement against criminals who happen to be talented enough to impact a team’s chances at winning a title.
For now, the best we can hope for is to be able to say we root for a team that put its foot down and said the talent isn’t worth overlooking violence, even while alleged. Dodgers fans can proudly claim their team did take this high road in a situation where they very easily could have used the case as leverage to lower the Reds’ asking price.
And, if the Dodgers do somehow wind up meeting Chapman and the Yankees in the World Series, maybe they’ll have an edge in the karmic forces that make things happen in sports we simply cannot explain. And if there aren’t magical voodoo forces that aid those who make this kind of stance (altogether likely), any success we get to enjoy this year won’t come with that tinge of regret that comes from rooting for a criminal (allegedly).