Since Chapman became a Yankee in the wake of the 2015 season — it didn’t take, and he was traded to the Cubs a half-year later — he’s lived through an unprecedented Bombers rise followed by an equally unprecedented stagnation.
Chapman was first acquired at a discount following his domestic violence incident (and ahead of his suspension), a maneuver that was looked down upon by fans but accepted in the seedy world of Major League Baseball. Midway through a duller-than-ever 2016 season, he was dealt to Chicago, where he helped break a 108-year World Series drought while netting the Yankees Gleyber Torres.
That autumn came the re-signing. Cashman coup complete! The team gelled in late 2016 behind Gary Sánchez’s bat! The dry spell was over, and the Bombers could get right back to collecting rings! Except…
In an interview that dropped on Wednesday, Chapman said the quiet part out loud, admitting he thought adding a ring to his ledger with the Yankees would be much, much easier.
We agree. And, hey, it might’ve happened already if not for some Astros chicanery, cold bats at the worst possible times, and Chapman himself getting nailed by Carlos Correa in ’17, then surrendering series-ending bombs in 2019 and 2020.
Aroldis Chapman thought winning a World Series with the Yankees would be easier.
So did we, Aroldis. So did we. But, show of hands, how many of us are All-Star closers who had the potential to make that World Series path much easier to follow?
Chapman is far from the sole Yankee responsible for making things so difficult, but he’s hardly covered himself in glory in October, all the way back to nearly blowing the Cubs’ chances in Game 7 before a miracle rain delay redeemed him.
Yankee fans were spoiled by two decades of Mariano Rivera, so Chapman doesn’t get as much credit as he deserves for an admittedly sterling 2.40 postseason ERA. But Mariano was sold as an out-of-nowhere warrior from humble beginnings. Chapman was supposed to be the greatest thing since the splitter, and he’s lived up the billing only to a point.
In 2017, Chapman took the loss in Game 2 of the ALCS, retiring the first batter of the ninth before being walked off by a Jose Altuve/Correa combo. In 2019, he served up the Altuve series-ender that set the world (and his jersey) abuzz. Those two smacks accounted for 6.75 ERAs in both Astros series.
In 2020, the overall numbers were much better, but you’re not going to believe this … Chapman’s bugaboo raised its head at the most inopportune time and Mike Brosseau, of all people, battled him down to his core before lining a game-winning blast to left in the decisive Game 5. And in 2021? The Yankees ended up one win short of hosting the AL Wild Card Game. Instead, they lost at Fenway Park, in part, due to 80 separate Chapman meltdowns.
2022 is Chapman’s final season in the Bronx, pending New York inexplicably extending him once again. Perhaps things will be easier in retirement, when he can close his eyes and imagine recording the final out of anything beyond the ALDS.
We’d say he’ll have a smile creep across his face, but we know that only happens when he loses.