Aroldis Chapman’s Yankee Legacy

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In mid-January of 2023, former Yankee closer Aroldis Chapman signed a 1-year $3.75million deal with the Kansas City Royals after practically burning the Manhattan Bridge on his way out. Aroldis Chapman’s tenure with the New York Yankees presents a head scratching case study which makes fans reflect upon. With Chapman’s Yankee career finished, fans can look back at his body of work and ask themselves: “how will he be remembered in the Bronx?”

The Legacy

As strange as this sounds, Chapman’s stats belong no where near this discussion. Yankee fans both now and in the future likely do not and will not recall or consider any of his Yankee stats when thinking about him because they have been drowned out by so many other thoughts.

The first strong thoughts of Chapman will come from before he even wore a Yankee uniform. After the Yankees traded for Chapman, he was suspended for 30 days by Major League Baseball for domestic violence against his girlfriend. It is important to note, that the American legal system recognizes innocence until proven guilt, and charges against Chapman were dropped. I do not know for a fact what happened that night, but regardless, he was suspended and struck a very bitter first impression with his new fan base regarding a sensitive topic.

Which NY Stadium/Arena has the best fan atmosphere?

Yankee Stadium – NY Yankees

Yankee Stadium - NY Yankees

Citi Field – NY Mets

Citi Field - NY Mets

Madison Square Garden – NY Rangers

Madison Square Garden - NY Rangers

UBS Arena – NY Islanders

UBS Arena - NY Islanders

Madison Square Garden – NY Knicks

Madison Square Garden - NY Knicks

Barclays Center – Brooklyn Nets

Barclays Center - Brooklyn Nets

MetLife Stadium – NY Giants

MetLife Stadium - NY Giants

MetLife Stadium – NY Jets

MetLife Stadium - NY Jets

A second thought that Yankee fans will not forget regards the head scratching decisions of Chapman’s final months in the Bronx. It began in late August when he went on the IL for an infection on a new tattoo. There are so many questions here: 1. Why would you get a tattoo in the season? 2. If you do get a tattoo in the season, why would you time that right before the playoffs? 3. Many tattoo artists would recommend against exercising (prevent sweat) and require you keep it clean, yet Chapman sweats like a faucet and plays in the dirt for a living, so why was this decision made? This puzzling sequence of events came to a final head after he skipped a team work out, and was left off of the playoff roster. By then, the writing was on the wall, the Yankees and fans had seen enough.

Finally, the one supreme lasting impression Yankee fans will remember above all is the feeling in their stomachs at even the sight of him in the bullpen. For some, the pit in their stomach comes the feeling of excitement of seeing something who can (and has) thrown baseballs harder than anyone else in their lifetime. Those who have seen him live know this to be true since all eyes become glued on the near-mythical figure. Chapman stands at 6’4”, arms like a body builder, and has been on record for throwing baseballs at 105 mph. This description looks like something out of a movie. He truly is a unicorn in this way, and the anticipation of seeing a live baseball travel at such blistering speeds is truly remarkable.

The Final Issue

But as any Yankee fan has asked: “how can someone who throws so hard have so much difficulty getting batters out?”

Chapman’s first obstacle was finding the strike zone. For very many times in his Yankee career, Chapman threw like a Marine sniper, perfectly placing strategic and overpowering pitches. But for just as many times, if not maybe more, Chapman could not tame his own fury. Yankee fans can recall countless innings of Chapman letting up punishing walks, which he almost surely came with consequence. If Chapman did happen to find the zone, only fate could explain the parade of clutch home-runs he had given up (most notable to a possibly-cheating Jose Altuve to walk off the 2019 ALCS). Regardless of what fans felt in their stomachs, they certainly were not relaxed.

To simplify Aroldis Chapman’s lasting legacy in the Bronx, it would be “high-stress”. Thoughts of his behavior and decisions brought high stress. Watching him pitch always brought high stress weather facing a dominant inning, absolute collapse, or a close-call escape. Aroldis Chapman on the Yankees was never easy on the nerves, but you can’t say he didn’t make you feel some kind of strong emotion.

Main image credit Embed from Getty Images

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