Relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman may be the key to bringing home the first World Series title for the Chicago Cubs since 1908. The closer, recently obtained from the New York Yankees, is famed for throwing a record 105.1 mph fastball. His arrival should have brought overwhelming joy to fans.
But longtime Cubs fan Caitlin Swieca is not celebrating.
After the team officially welcomed their new teammate, Swieca said she felt “conflicted” about the trade.
“It’s tough to imagine him being on the mound for the final out of the Cubs winning the World Series,” she said.
Chapman was accused of domestic violence against his girlfriend in 2015. Then, during his first interview at Wrigley Field as a Cub, he revealed that he would not speak out against domestic violence or work with any local programs to combat the issue, according to The Associated Press.
But Swieca will. She’s promising to donate $10 to a local anti-domestic violence organization every time Chapman gets a save.
Swieca, 24, said she wanted to keep rooting for her favorite team, without rooting for Chapman’s success.
“It kind of started out with a selfish desire to make myself feel better about rooting for Chapman,” she said. “I wanted to turn a negative into a positive.”
Since she tweeted her promise last week, she has not only kept her word but inspired other Cubs fans to do the same. Over 90 people have pledged to donate to an anti-domestic violence organization of their choosing, according to Swieca.
“The support has been awesome,” Sweica said, adding that “99 percent of the feedback has been positive. A lot of people are behind this cause.”
Chapman was accused of firing eight shots at a garage wall and choking his girlfriend in their Miami-area home in October 2015, warranting a 29-game suspension, according to AP.
The pitcher raised some eyebrows at a press conference on July 26. Cubs officials had said they wouldn’t have acquired Chapman without assurances from him about his behavior. But when asked by local reporters if Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts and President Theo Epstein made an impact on him with their conversations about upholding team expectations, Chapman, through translator Henry Blanco, said he didn’t remember the conversation, according to AP. “It has been a long day,” he said.
Chapman clarified his thoughts in a statement released by the Cubs. “I regret that I did not exercise better judgment and for that I am truly sorry,” he said. “Looking back, I feel I have learned from this matter and have grown as a person. . . I would appreciate the opportunity to move forward without revisiting an event we consider part of our past.”
Swieca said while she would love to see Chapman become more active in the issue, she doesn’t expect him to do so. For now, she said she hopes her idea raises a lot of money for anti-domestic violence organizations.
“If all of these people follow through with their promises, it’ll make a difference for a lot of these charities,” Swieca said after making her first donation to the Domestic Violence Legal Clinic since Chapman’s first save, which came Thursday against the White Sox.
The legal clinic’s executive director, Margaret Duval, said the organization has received $1,359 from over 60 new donors over the last five days. Some who were first-time donors already have donated again.
“We are really appreciative of these generous donations,” Duval said. “It reflects well on Cubs fans. It shows that they love their team, but they also support this important cause.”
Swieca’s efforts grabbed the Cubs’ attention, too.
“We respect how our fans demonstrate their passion related to this organization and applaud Caitlin’s personal efforts to cheer on her favorite team while making a difference on such an important issue,” Julian Green, Cubs vice president of communications, said last week. “As our chairman stated earlier this week, our franchise and Major League Baseball take this matter very seriously and continue to support efforts for education, awareness and intervention.”
Swieca has suggested the hashtag #pitchin4DV to encourage social media users to join the cause.
“I just knew there were a lot of other conflicted Cubs fans out there, and I thought some of them might want to join me,” she said. “Judging from the response, there obviously were a lot of people who felt the same way. I never expected so many people to catch on, but it’s been gratifying to see it grow.”