Aroldis Chapman hasn’t thrown a pitch for the Chicago Cubs yet, but he’s already caused a bit of controversy, this after participating in a media session gone awry Tuesday.
But first, a little background:
“Theo Epstein talked at great length about how the owner of the team, Tom Ricketts, himself, and Jed Hoyer, the general manager, talked at length . . . with Chapman (through an interpreter) before (the trade with the Yankees) was consummated,” Cubs and White Sox writer Bruce Levine said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “(They wanted) to make him understand what type of individual they expect him to be here, what type of teammate, what type of person in the community, and if he could hold up to that standard, they would consider making the trade. He convinced them in that conversation that he would.”
Chapman, however, apparently doesn’t remember this conversation.
“Well, when he came to talk to the local media (Tuesday), they asked him about his meeting over the phone and he said I was a little sleepy, I don’t remember a lot of it,” Levine said. “That’s where it was lost in interpretation because at that point, the media started sensing that the Cubs were lying about this conversation and that the guy didn’t really have any deep conversation about how he knew he had to be responsible coming here. Epstein had to make another appearance (Tuesday) in front of the media to talk about how they did do their due diligence and he understands he has to be a good citizen here and he has to be a good teammate.
“Look, I don’t blame the guy,” Levine said of Chapman. “Major League Baseball signed off on this guy after 30 days. He’s going through some programs for sure, some sensitivity training, some understanding of what he did and who he is, but they won’t talk about it because that’s part of the MLB and the MLBPA agreement. That’s a confidentiality issue. . . . (He) paid his dues. He’s doing whatever rehab he has to do, and from every teammate I’ve talked to – and I talked to six or seven former teammates about him – he’s a terrific teammate, a terrific guy, doesn’t bother anybody, goes about his business and blows gas in the ninth inning. That’s America. That’s what happens to fallen heroes in our country.”
In any event, the Cubs have Chapman, who is well on his way to saving 30+ games for the fifth consecutive season. The Nationals wanted him, the Giants wanted him – a lot of teams wanted him – but the Cubs got him. And they gave up a lot to get him.
Is this enough, finally, for the Cubs to win the World Series?
“I think they’re set up to win a World Series, and I think they’re set up over the next seven to 10 years to continually compete for deep playoff runs, something that they hadn’t been able to for 75, 80, 100 years, whatever it was,” Levine said. “You cannot predict somebody winning a World Series. You just can’t do it. What you can predict is that a team can make a run like the Braves did in the ’90s and the Yankees did in the 2000s and the Giants have done over the last six years where you’re always in competition, you get in the playoffs and you give yourself that chance to win and go to a World Series and win one. I think the Cubs are set up to do that.
“When you envision the Cubs now, you envision Chapman on the mound in Game 7 of the World Series,” Levine continued. “The guys, with all due respect to them, that were on the mound before this, you didn’t envision it. But with Chapman, the Giants, Mark Shapiro with Toronto, Mike Rizzo of Washington, they all envisioned their team in the World Series with Chapman on the mound in Game 7 throwing 105. That’s what the Cubs did here.”