In December 2015, the New York Yankees acquired the flame-throwing and legitimately electric Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman for four dudes you've never heard of. Seems pretty weird, maybe even impossible, until you recall that three weeks earlier, reports surfaced that Chapman choked his girlfriend and fired a gun into his garage wall seven times and another that went through the window while she hid outside in the bushes. After serving a negotiated 30-game suspension, Chapman pitched quite well for New York, before he was traded to Chicago, where he helped the Cubs win the World Series for the first time since 1908. Chapman became a free agent shortly thereafter and the Yankees again acquired him, this time for considerably more than four dudes you've never heard of.
Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner is OK with shelling out $86 million over five years to Chapman because a.) he's good, and b.) he puts butts in the seats. But what about the public relations aspect of employing a guy with his history? Pffft.
"Quite frankly it was manageable the minute he got here last year,'' Steinbrenner said at the quarterly owners' meetings Thursday. "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.''
And here I thought we were not supposed to be tolerant of physical violence towards loved ones, or any one for that matter. But I've never owned a ballclub, so what do I know? There is a tension that many fans feel when it comes to these kinds of stories. It's hard to reconcile not wanting to support domestic violence and wanting to support your team. There's really no good way of doing it other than simply acknowledging that tension exists. Which, incidentally, is exactly the opposite way Steinbrenner would have you go about it.
But, it gets worse. Steinbrenner continued to say remarkably stupid and tone deaf things, and at one point straight up said it was about selling tickets. Speaking for all the fans and how they perceive this move, Steinbrenner said Chapman and his electric arm was, I shit you not, a good reason to bring the family out:
"They love him,'' Steinbrenner said. "There are so few baseball players that I feel can really get fans to buy a ticket and brings their kids to their game, and he's one of them.''
When one season ticket behind home plate costs $850 per game, you gotta hire the big guns.