Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Aroldis Chapman fills villainous void for Red Sox-Yankees

Alex Reimer
October 04, 2018 - 12:25 pm

While there’s still widespread disdain for the Yankees as an institution, it’s difficult to identify any villainous players, considering the teams haven’t played in the postseason since 2004. Right now, there’s no contempt for Aaron Judge or Giancarlo Stanton, because they’ve never played the Red Sox in a true high-stakes affair.

But there is one player donning pinstripes who should be vilified before Game 1 begins Friday night. Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman is the true villain in this series.

The primary reason to loathe Chapman stems from an off-field domestic violence incident. In December 2015, police were called to the flamethrower’s Miami-area home after his girlfriend said he "choked her" and pushed her against a wall during an argument. Chapman also fired eight gunshots in the garage of his house during the dispute.

While no arrests were made in the case –– police cited a lack of evidence and contrasting stories as some of the reasons for not pressing charges –– MLB still suspended Chapman 30 games under its domestic violence policy.

Despite Chapman’s involvement in a domestic violence case, the Yankees traded for him shortly after the episode. In Spring Training of 2016, then-skipper Joe Giardi said he hadn’t even read the police report from the night in question. For the Yankees, the approach to combating negative reaction from acquiring Chapman was blissful ignorance.

Though the Bombers dealt Chapman to the Cubs that July, they signed him to a five-year, $86 million deal in December 2016. He’s been dominant since then, striking out 162 batters in 101.2 innings and posting a 2.83 ERA.

But the Red Sox have gotten to Chapman a couple of times over the last two seasons, setting the stage for some sweet October comeuppance. Rafael Devers took Chapman deep last August, hammering a 103 mph fastball deep into the Yankee Stadium bleachers to tie the game.

Most recently, the Red Sox tagged Chapman for three runs Aug. 5, putting an exclamation point on their sweep of the Yankees at Fenway Park. He failed to harness control of his fastball, walking Sandy Leon, Mookie Betts and Steve Pearce to load the bases with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. J.D. Martinez followed up the bout of wildness with a two-run single, and then an errant throw from Miguel Andujar allowed the tying run to score.

Few things are more exciting in baseball than the closer meltdown. Chapman has already done it a couple of times against the Red Sox, and there’s plenty of incentive to root for another one –– in addition to the uniform he wears.