Home > Uncategorized > Aroldis Chapman’s suspension seems like a reasonable start for MLB’s domestic violence policy

Aroldis Chapman’s suspension seems like a reasonable start for MLB’s domestic violence policy

547973With not much to go on other than police reports, some conversations, a gut feel and conscience, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred ruled on Aroldis Chapman’s domestic violence case Tuesday.

And it feels like he ruled justly. It’s difficult to say unequivocally that the suspension’s length of 30 games is completely fair because there is so much that we (and Manfred for that matter) don’t know and will never know about what occurred between Chapman and his girlfriend on Oct. 30. She said he pushed her against a wall and choked her. He said he poked her on the shoulder with two fingers and she fell down.

But again, this feels proper for what we do know. If you think Manfred was weak in this instance, take a look at what he had to work with in this first case under the league’s new domestic violence policy:

Chapman was not arrested. He was not charged with a crime. The witnesses present gave inconsistent accounts of what occurred. There was no video or any other smoking gun to corroborate the victim’s claims.

But it still resulted in Chapman losing nearly $2 million in pay and being banned for almost one-fifth of his team’s season.

By comparison, in 2014, the NFL suspended running back Ray Rice for two games — one-eighth of a player’s season — after he had already been arrested and charged with simple assault and after he was later indicted by a grand jury for aggravated assault. One month after handing down the suspension, commissioner Roger Goodell admitted he was too lenient. 

Manfred didn’t want to make a similar admission.

Maybe you think instead that 30 games for Chapman is too harsh. We know some sort of physical altercation occurred, but there’s no way of knowing the truth there. Even in his statement on the suspension, Manfred singled out Chapman’s use of a gun inside of his house rather than any sort of physical violence as the main reason for the ban.

 

Thirty games for firing a gun at a wall in his house and some unclear assertions of physical violence? How does the crime fit the time? I’ve seen people take that stance on Twitter to argue that Manfred brought the hammer down too hard on Chapman. If you think so, I’m sorry, but I’d much rather have a commissioner who takes a harder line against domestic abuse than one who follows in the missteps of his professional equals.

Those in positions of power in sports have a long history of overlooking domestic abuse. It’s time for a change. Call this an overcorrection or making up for the errors of previous regimes if you are so inclined, but it’s better late than never. This issue needs to be addressed and handled in sports with the gravity and sensitivity it deserves. Firing a gun in a house with children present, even if there is no intent to cause physical injury, can be cited as intimidation and domestic abuse. Honestly, with the lack of hard evidence against Chapman, Tuesday’s announcement feels like the floor for anyone found in violation of MLB’s broad policy against domestic abuse, sexual assault and child abuse. If Chapman’s actions garnered him this type of punishment, what lies ahead for those in baseball who are arrested and charged with such a crime? That will be a huge precedent-setter.

I would have been OK with a longer suspension. Conversely, I don’t think 20-25 games would have led to much more outrage. But it’s pretty evident that the parties involved reached the number 30 following some long negotiations. Manfred, in his first attempt at levying such a penalty, put forth a judgement with some meat and consequence on it. Chapman, as a reward of sorts for accepting the 30-game ban and not filing an appeal (something that once seemed inevitable), he stays on track to become a free agent following the 2016 season, given that he’s not suspended again.

For the New York Yankees, they still have Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances in the bullpen, and they knew this decision was coming. Now that it’s here, I think a pro sports league commissioner, after dealing with a player accused of domestic abuse, deserves something rather rare: a decent amount of commendation.

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