MLB made a historic decision yesterday when they decided Aroldis Chapman of the New York Yankees will be suspended for 30 days because of an incident that took place in October 2015 when he was arrested for domestic violence.
The League’s decision is the first of its kind, not only in baseball, but all major sports and it is the direct consequence of the agreement that was reached in August last year. The agreement was reached between the league and the MLB Players Association and it marked the first time a professional sports league issued a policy concerning domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse. The policy does not involve solely suspensions and other disciplinary measures, but also an intervention and treatment program for the athletes.
The Chapman case was the first true test for the policy, especially since no charges were ultimately filed by the police and since Chapman vehemently denied any domestic violence occurring. As a reminder, the Yankee was accused of choking his then-girlfriend and firing eight shots out of his gun after the incident.
Commissioner Manfred announced that A. Chapman has accepted a 30-game suspension w/o pay, effective Opening Day: pic.twitter.com/SrEaCTfei0
— MLB Communications (@MLB_PR) March 1, 2016
Rob Manfred, the MLB Commissioner issued a statement on the suspension, saying that his staff conducted an extensive investigation into the matter, going over the documents and reports. He said that Chapman also agreed to an interview with league officials and acknowledged his inappropriate conduct on the day in question. He added that Chapman agreed to the suspension without contesting it.
Chapman also issued a statement, explaining how his decision not to contest the League’s suspension had to do with the fact he wanted to limit the distractions his team, his teammates and his family would suffer because of it.
While some people are hailing the suspension as a sign that major sports leagues might actually start treating off-court misconduct of their players more seriously (as opposed to NFL’s poor handling of similar cases), others are saying that a spring training penalty might actually do more harm than good when public opinion is in question. No one can argue that a regular-season suspension would be much more impactful and resounding and that this type of suspension might actually stay under the radar for the most part.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi has decided not to comment on the suspension and the whole case until he has the chance to interact with his player.
— MLBPA (@MLB_PLAYERS) March 1, 2016