by Alex Poletti
Ending the Yankees’ season with a poorly thrown slider in the middle of the zone, Aroldis Chapman let out a smile after serving up a walk-off home run to Astros second baseman Jose Altuve. Chapman’s expression was explained through an exclusive interview with The Second String, in which the fireballer admitted that he was just happy to do something nice for another person for the first time in his life.
“I sent the Astros back to the World Series with my pitching,” Chapman says. “I just wasn’t used to giving something valuable to another person, and here I am giving the Astros a free American League pennant. It kind of made me feel warm inside.”
While Chapman has had his faults under the brightest lights, he’s never lost a game of this magnitude. Even when he blew the lead in game seven of the 2016 World Series for the Cubs, they came back to win it all, giving Chapman the win.
“I can’t remember a time I’ve done something this nice for someone else,” the All-Star closer says. “Certainly not for my girlfriend. The only thing I’ve given is information to the Cuban government, but that seemed so formal compared to this.”
This was an abnormal showing for Chapman, who is usually one of the game’s best relievers. An elite strikeout artist, the hurler holds a career 2.22 ERA and has never blown more than five games in a season.
One of the highest-paid relievers in baseball, Chapman hasn’t necessarily developed a reputation for being a nice guy. His standoffish attitude has rubbed some teammates the wrong way, and he was suspended for 30 games back in 2016 for violated Major League Baseball’s personal conduct policy.
Chapman’s gift to the Astros and the city of Houston may change his reputation. Through his act of kindness, a hanging slider to a power-hitting infielder, Chapman is showing that he’s becoming a better, more charitable person.
“This could be a new chapter in my life,” Chapman explains. “It was refreshing, it gave me hope. I will say, it’s kind of nice to not be the one doing the beating for once.”