Andrew Miller Is Still the Closer

I'm Leaving After the Eighth

I grew up in St. Louis and was an ardent St. Louis Cardinals fan. Actually, over time I turned into an ardent baseball fan. I will watch other sports, but baseball captures my imagination and makes me yearn to go into a ballpark.

Andrew Miller, #48, New York Yankees roster photograph

Andrew Miller, #48, New York Yankees roster photograph

The St. Louis Post Dispatch in the 1960s would give good students a pair of Cardinals tickets for each A they got on their report card (our school used an E-S-M-I-F grading system, so in my case, each E). I got a lot of tickets, and my dad liked to go with me if I wasn't going with a group of classmates. When he'd question an S in a subject (usually gym), I wondered if he was more disappointed that it was one less game I'd get tickets for.

I still have the front page of the newspaper from when the Cardinals won the 1964 World Series over the New York Yankees. And I remember watching the 1967 World Series vs. the Boston Red Sox in the common dorm TV room at the University of Colorado my freshman year. If memory serves, I was the only one who seemed to care. I was in Colorado, home of skiing and football.

When I came to New York in the early 1970s, I rooted for the Cardinals, but began rooting for the Mets when I thought I would be staying in New York for a while. After all, the song does say, "Root, root for the home team." But I enjoyed watching the World Series games with the Yankees and Billy Martin, Reggie Jackson et al. And by 2000, when I was home recovering from hip surgery, I cheered on the Mets in their failed attempt to beat the Bronx Bombers. But I was greatly intrigued by one of the Yankees players.

So it sometimes surprises me that in 2016, I'm a full season ticket licensee of the New York Yankees. I blame Derek Jeter. He was such an exquisitely exciting player to watch, and — with Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and the incomparable Mariano Rivera — a total class act.

I can't imagine what the Core Four thought when they heard that Brian Cashman signed Aroldis Chapman this past February to be the Yankees' closer. I sure know what I thought: How dare Cashman pay a man who abuses women $11.325 million for a season of throwing a baseball?

Chapman was accused of choking his girlfriend and firing eight shots in his garage in Florida. He was not charged in the incident. When Major League Baseball suspended Chapman for 30 games under its new Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse policy, I cursed Cashman again and knew I'd have a dilemma come May.

After the suspension was announced, Chapman issued a statement:

“I want to be clear, I did not in any way harm my girlfriend that evening. However, I should have exercised better judgment with respect to certain actions, and for that I am sorry. The decision to accept a suspension, as opposed to appealing one, was made after careful consideration. I made this decision in an effort to minimize the distractions that an appeal would cause the Yankees, my new teammates and most importantly, my family.”

When Chapman returned to the Yankees after his suspension, The New York Times reported that he said:

“I didn’t do anything. People are thinking that it’s something serious; I have not put my hands on anyone, didn’t put anyone in danger. Since I didn’t do anything like that, I’m not thinking about it. If I didn’t do anything, why should I think about it? That is in the past. Now, I’m thinking about more important things: my family, kids, my career.”

The Times continued:

"Asked if his girlfriend’s calling 911 last October while hiding in the bushes because she was terrified was a problem, Chapman said: 'It was just an argument with your partner that everyone has. I’ve even argued with my mother. When you are not in agreement with someone, we Latin people are loud when we argue.'

"He added, 'I do not have a problem.' "

How can I cheer a man who was suspended for terrorizing a woman? And apparently doesn't think he did anything wrong, even though he shot off a gun, and who claims that he was targeted because the world goes after Latinos? My answer: I can't.

Andrew Miller is a class act. He had a great early season for the Yankees while Chapman was on suspension, and I was almost as thrilled to hear "God's Gonna Cut You Down," Johnny Cash's song, as I used to be when I heard "Enter Sandman." I sang along (still learning the words).

After Chapman's suspension was over, I had to face my dilemma. I was in the stadium for the Kansas City game on May 10 when Miller came into the game in the eighth inning. The Yankees were ahead 7 to 6. Miller gave up a home run to Lorenzo Cain, the first batter he faced. He seemed uncomfortable in his new role.

But the Yankees came back in the bottom of the eighth and scored three runs. That meant Chapman would be coming in. What to do?

I booed when he was announced, and walked out. Of my section of the grandstand, down the stairs and out of the stadium.

I haven't watched Abuser Chapman pitch this year. If I'm in the stadium, I walk out. If I'm at home, I turn off the television.

And since Chapman will be a free agent after this year, what did the Yankees get for all that money besides the contempt of this Yankees fan? There is speculation that Chapman accepted the suspension because it didn't affect his free agency and would up his value come negotiations at the end of the season. So the Yankees get the pitcher for one year in what looks to be a really mediocre season and probably won't be able to afford him next year. Meanwhile, this Yankees licensee feels cheated.

It really hurts to hear the fans cheer this man.

My game is over after the eighth inning if it's a closer situation. Thanks, Mr. Cashman, for taking away the ninth for me. At least I get home a little bit earlier