At last night’s game, a clearly inappropriate song played at Wrigley Field, as noted by ESPN’s Sarah Spain:
Chapman closes out the inning & at the inning break the Cubs play "Smack My Bitch Up." You gotta know better. C'mon.
— Sarah Spain (@SarahSpain) August 15, 2016
My initial reaction: regardless of whether there was an intentional connection to Aroldis Chapman, who was suspended for a domestic violence incident before he was traded the Cubs, that song has no place being played at Wrigley Field at any time (whether part of a pre-packaged video, whether edited, whether played without lyrics, etc. – it’s just not necessary).
My second reaction, like most folks, was to wonder how this happened, and how the Cubs would remedy it.
Team president Crane Kenney apologized and released a statement (Tribune, ESPN): “We apologize for the irresponsible music selection during our game last night. The selection of this track showed a lack of judgment and sensitivity to an important issue. 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.”
I’m sensitive in these situations to someone losing their job over what may have been a momentary lapse in judgment, but, if the Cubs investigated and determined that firing the employee was the appropriate response, then so be it. You just kinda hope the person actually deserved it, as opposed to received it because of the understandably negative response last night and this morning. It’s not terribly hard to imagine a scenario where this employee’s conduct merited termination, though.
The Cubs know that they cannot fail to respond seriously in this kind of situation, and, the song having been played, some version of this was pretty much how things had to play out. The interplay between sports (and business) and domestic violence issues has not always been treated with an appropriate level of open discussion, and that has long been a mistake.
Whatever your opinion on the rightness or wrongness of the response here, this is the reality we discussed after the Cubs traded for Chapman: extra scrutiny is coming on anything plausibly related to or touching upon the domestic violence incident for which he was suspended. The Cubs should be afforded a fair process in all these matters, but they’ve ceded the right to have these otherwise potentially minor incidents ignored.
It appears that, in this instance, the Cubs responded quickly and appropriately. The conversation about sports and domestic violence issues will undoubtedly continue.