While Reds closer/trade bait Adrolis Chapman — currently under MLB investigation for allegedly choking his girlfriend and firing a gun in their garage — is described as “toxic” by one observer, former skipper Dusty Baker (above, currently toiling in Washington) strongly defended the reliever (“he’s a heck of a guy”). Though Dusty’s done a bit of backpedaling since, CBS Chicago’s Julie DiCaro has grown weary of “a vocal segment of the male population who inherently question any story that pits a woman’s word against a pro athlete’s.”
When managers, teammates and organizations come out with the seemingly innocuous “we stand by our guy, he’s a great guy” statements, they (perhaps unintentionally) send the message that they doubt the accuser and that fans should, too. This almost always happens without the speaker having spoken to the accuser or having heard that side of the story.
In Baker’s case, he issued a blanket absolution of Chapman without having even read the allegations against him, which included Chapman’s own admission that he fired a gun at least seven times in anger while a toddler was in close proximity. Chapman’s friends eventually locked him in a room. In blindly absolving Chapman of any wrongdoing, Baker implied that the accuser is a liar and that he doesn’t believe her story.
Baker’s refusal to even consider that there may be another side to Chapman perfectly encapsulates the bigger problem with allegations of violence against women by pro athletes, one in which fans and teammates are quick to dismiss allegations against a player because they can’t imagine the player behaving violently. That’s not the guy “they know.” In the age of Twitter, Instagram and Vine, it’s easier than ever for fans to succumb to the illusion that the players they follow are extended parts of their family, that they really “know” them based on what they see online.