Chicago Cubs: Employee Fired Over Controversial Song Choice

Aug 2, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman (54) throws against the Miami Marlins during the ninth inning at Wrigley Field. The Cubs won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 2, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman (54) throws against the Miami Marlins during the ninth inning at Wrigley Field. The Cubs won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /

The Chicago Cubs fired an employee on Monday after a questionable song choice in between innings.

Times are changing in the United States, and Major League Baseball has been trying to keep up with them. As outcry over domestic violence and spousal abuse incidents have finally begun to garner the attention they deserve in America, the national pastime has implemented the beginnings of what one would hope to be an effective policy to dole out punishment to those players who find themselves in DV and SA situations.

And while MLB has been at the forefront of legislating and adjudicating these issues in major league sports in this country, doling out major suspensions to multiple high-profile players, individual teams appear to still be in need of an adjustment period and, perhaps, some public relations coaching in these areas.

More from Call to the Pen

The Chicago Cubs, the undisputed media darlings of the 2016 MLB season, have become the poster child for this need of additional assistance ever since acquiring Aroldis Chapman from the New York Yankees on July 25th. There has been one mishap after another since the trade that landed the National League’s best team arguably the best closer in baseball.

The latest occurred on Sunday night, during a nationally-televised game on ESPN between the Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals, after Chapman worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning, fanning two. As the players walked off the field, the song “Smack My B**** Up” by Prodigy blared over Wrigley Field’s PA system. Outrage on social media soon followed the tone deaf song choice, and the team’s field DJ was fired on Monday morning.

"“The selection of this track showed a lack of judgment and sensitivity to an important issue,” team president Crane Kenney said on Monday. “We have terminated our relationship with the employee responsible for making the selection, and will be implementing stronger controls to review and approve music before public broadcast during our games.”"

Someone losing their job is never a cause for celebration. And perhaps if this had been an isolated incident for the club since its acquisition of Chapman, Kenney’s statement would seem less disingenuous.

The rockiness in Chicago and across social media began immediately after the trade when, following strong statements by Chicago’s front office to the personal conduct they expected of their new relief ace, Chapman said he couldn’t recall the conversation because he had just woken up from a nap. It was later revealed that he may have been misquoted by his interpreter.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon, often held out as a paradigm of the new, progressive MLB, was not misquoted and did not help matters, though, when he touched on Chapman’s domestic violence issues in an interview with “We’ve all been less than perfect.”

Chapman’s domestic violence incident, which was brought to light last December when he was nearly traded by the Cincinnati Reds to the Los Angeles Dodgers, revealed he had reportedly choked his girlfriend and fired off a gun eight times in his garage. The Yankees pounced soon after the Dodgers deal fell apart, acquiring Chapman at pennies on the dollar and taking advantage of his likely suspension, which turned out to be 30 games in total.

After returning, Chapman appeared in 31 games for the Yankees, saving 20 and posting a 2.01 earned run average, 1.93 FIP, 215 ERA+, and 12.6 strikeouts per nine innings, regularly hitting 103-105 miles per hour on the radar gun. Chicago sent highly-touted prospect Gleyber Torres to New York to headline the trade.

Since arriving at Wrigley, the lefty fireballer has saved four games in nine appearances, posting a ridiculous 1.04 ERA, 0.14 FIP, 404 ERA+, and 13.5 strikeouts per nine stat line.

Thus, a passionate (some would say ravenous) fan base that has been awaiting a World Series championship since 1908 has been forced to balance their hunger for a title and rationalize (or ignore) this new component to a team that, prior to the trade, was filled with seemingly nothing but humble, stand-up, marketable athletes such as Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and Dexter Fowler.

Among the responses to Chapman from Chicago faithful has been a pledge (taken up by many others) to donate money to domestic charities for every save he earns for the northsiders.

Chicago Tribune reporter David Haugh, upon the consummation of the trade and statements by Cubs’ brass, had the following to say in the city’s most widely-read newspaper:

"“But trading for Chapman isn’t limited to ending the Cubs’ 108-year wait for a World Series title, which diehards cited Monday as a reason to accept a guy who already has been punished. Trading for Chapman underscored the win-at-all-cost mentality of pro sports that now permeates Wrigley Field, a fact of sporting life many grudgingly accept more than they embrace.”"

And so a single song, played during a stoppage in play, regardless of how innocuous it may seem, has become the next chapter in the Cubs-Chapman story. That someone was fired as a result should not be celebrated, but should spur further conversation about how seriously Chicago’s (and every other team around MLB) organization takes issues of domestic violence and spousal abuse.

Next: Top 3 Landing Spots For Jonathan Papelbon

MLB has begun to show its teeth in dealing with these matters, but it’s a matter of importance to our society, and not just professional sports, that franchises across the league begin to do the same as well.