He said, he said.
Here is what baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred declared in a statement on Tuesday afternoon after handing out a 30-game suspension to Yankees relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman, one Chapman earned, and one he deserved:
"I found Mr. Chapman's acknowledged conduct on that day to be inappropriate under the negotiated Policy, particularly his use of a firearm and the impact of that behavior on his partner."
Here is what Chapman said about the same suspension, one he has decided not to appeal, which means the guy wins something for the Yankees before he ever saves a game for them:
"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."
Manfred did right by his sport's new Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse policy with this decision. Chapman did right by not appealing, ensuring that there is no chance that an arbitrator would someday overturn the new Commissioner's first important judgment in this area. Manfred does not say whether or not he believes Chapman put his hands on his girlfriend last Oct. 30, as she said Chapman did in a police report about the incident at his Florida home. So the 10th commissioner in baseball history didn't have to tell Chapman to keep his hands to himself the next time there is a domestic disagreement.
But clearly, because the eight shots that Chapman fired off in his garage on this night -- perhaps a weird interpretation of high heat from a pitcher who can throw 100 miles per hour -- clearly raised the stakes in this case, Manfred was telling Chapman to keep his hands off a gun the next time he loses his temper, with anybody.
Chapman was never charged with a crime for the events of that evening. He has maintained from the start that he never hurt anybody. As always with these stories, and absent the kind of video we got from Ray Rice, there are always two versions, at least. But about this there is no dispute: The combination of anger and a firearm is not just toxic, it is potentially tragic.
Whatever happened between Chapman and his girlfriend, she was suitably frightened about it enough to run outside and call the cops. The point-missers can point to no charges being filed. So often in these cases no charges end up being filed, for all kinds of reasons. It is still clear that something bad, and something scary, happened between these two people, something that made this woman run.
And if Chapman is getting a bad rap here, how come he didn't appeal?
Maybe he knew that if he fought Manfred on this, the penalty in his first season with the Yankees could have been even worse, even though if the penalty had been 40 games or more instead of 30, the Yankees would have retained the rights to Chapman for two years instead of one. Maybe he was worried about losing his free agent rights after the season if he dug in on this. And maybe, just maybe, the Commissioner of baseball wasn't going to reward New York for Chapman's bad behavior.
They made a good deal for Chapman, the Yankees did. They made it knowing that Manfred wasn't going to give Chapman a pass on what happened that night, or even give him a slap on the wrist. But that deal didn't get any better for the Yankees on Tuesday because of this suspension. Chapman gets to pitch for the Yanks in May, and then walk away from them after October if he so chooses.
There were a lot of elements to this decision, and maybe that's why it played out through the weekend. We were hearing on Friday that Chapman was going to get 30 games; that number never changed. No one was sure at the time whether he'd appeal or not. We found out yesterday that he would not. The Commissioner did what was best for his business on this day. Chapman made a business decision himself.
These are the days when the men who run our sports leagues earn their money. I believe Roger Goodell, for all the mistakes he made with Rice, before and after he had the video of Rice's punch to the face of Janay Palmer-Rice, was trying to do right by his league, even though he needed a second suspension of Rice -- one eventually overturned -- to send the proper message about the NFL taking domestic violence seriously.
I believe Manfred's intentions with Chapman were honorable. That doesn't mean you have to agree with the length of the suspension. It is fair to look at the ban and say that it's shorter than the one for a first positive drug test in baseball. If you are a Yankee fan, you might think it's too much, and yell about no charges being filed.
Jose Reyes is currently serving a suspension with pay because he will stand trial in Hawaii, around Opening Day, for an alleged domestic abuse case involving his wife. It happened around the same time that party at Chapman's house got out of hand, and the cops showed up.
There is no handbook for these cases, because they're all different, even if the subject is the same. From what we know, there was no gun involved with Reyes. There is a gun involved with Chapman. There is no video with either one of them the way there was with Rice. But there was no gun in that elevator, either.
The message for everybody, though, has to be the same: Hands to yourself. If there's a gun around, hands off the gun. You keep hoping, after Rice, that other athletes might learn their lesson. Clearly not all of them have. Chapman got what he deserved from baseball on Tuesday. The suspension could have been worse. So, too, could that night in Davie, Fla., have been last October.