Theo Epstein may need to elaborate when he talks about “character.”
In an interview on 60 Minutes this Sunday, the Cubs president revealed his philosophy that has helped him break two curses, with part of that philosophy being guys with “strong character.”
“Baseball is a game with a ton of adversity,” Epstein said. “Players attempt to respond to adversity in the right way and trying from the end are players with strong character. If you have enough guys like that in the clubhouse, you have an edge on the other team.”
While the Cubs certainly had some high character guys on their roster last season, they also had Aroldis Chapman, who was suspended 30 games in 2016 for an alleged domestic violence incident.
Epstein’s comments received backlash and criticism from some on social media after 60 Minutes tweeted out the clip.
The Cubs made a trade for the flame-throwing lefty with the Yankees in July to bolster their bullpen for their championship run.
Chapman was accused of choking and pushing his girlfriend in October of 2015 and admitted to firing eight gunshots in his garage the same night.
No arrests were made due to “conflicting stories and lack of cooperation from all parties,” according to the police report.
MLB conducted its own investigation and found enough evidence to suspend Chapman.
Following his trade to the Cubs, Epstein said they weighed his alleged domestic violence issue heavily and were given permission to speak with him before the trade and walked away from that conversation satisfied.
“We gave that serious, thoughtful, careful consideration over an extended period of time,” Epstein told reporters in July. “We take the issue of character very seriously and continue to. Obviously, we take the issue of domestic violence very seriously. So it was our responsibility to look into this thoroughly and to look at all the facts. Again, we understand there will be lots of different perspectives on this, that there will be lots of strong feelings about this and that people are going to feel differently about that. And we understand, and we respect that.
“In the end, it was our decision, and we decided it was appropriate to trade for a player who has accepted his discipline, who has been already disciplined by Major League Baseball, who expressed his sorrow and his regret for the incident in a statement at the time, in a meaningful statement today and even more importantly to me and Tom (Ricketts) directly today over the phone before we were willing to consummate the trade, a player who is active currently in Major League Baseball and pitching for another team.”