Sunday, May 15, 2016

Aroldis Chapman brings life to sleepy Yankee Stadium

5/12/16, "Aroldis Chapman warming up on Thursday. He did not enter that game but has been a captivating presence on the Yankees, who are trying to crawl out of last place. Credit Alex Goodlett for The New York Times." Chapman is a free agent after this season.

5/14/16, "Aroldis Chapman, Yankees’ New Fireballer, Is Kindling Fans’ Excitement," NY Times, Billy Witz

"The seats had mostly emptied late Tuesday, but some fans could not bring themselves to leave Yankee Stadium. Their mad dash to the subway had come to a halt, and they congregated four and five deep along the field-level concourse.
What kept them anchored was the man standing on the pitcher’s mound: Aroldis Chapman.

Chapman, the newest Yankee, who became eligible Monday after serving a 30-game domestic violence suspension, has brought a buzz to the late innings at the often somnolent stadium with a fastball that rides steadily at 100 miles an hour.

When Chapman enters through the bullpen gate, he is accompanied by a beat-thumping music medley and a montage of flaming scoreboard graphics, which awaken the crowd as would one of his fastballs under the chin.

Even though Yankee Stadium is empty, it’s like there’s life back in it,” Elan Wilkenfeld said Tuesday as he stood in the right-field corner with his friend Ross Rubin, watching Chapman work the final inning of a 10-7 Yankees victory.

For a team that has been competitive but not dynamic — and devoid of much personality — in recent seasons, Chapman may be the Yankees’ most captivating presence as they try to crawl out of last place in the American League East.

But because he is a closer — used almost exclusively when the Yankees have a lead but not too large a lead — it is uncertain each night if Chapman will appear.

On Thursday night, Gregg Fein, who was seated in the right-field bleachers, peered down into the bullpen with his two young sons to watch Chapman warm up while the Yankees extended their lead with two late runs on the way to a 7-3 victory.

“I’m kind of torn,” Fein said. “If we score a bunch of runs here, Chapman won’t come into the game.”

Indeed, with a comfortable margin, the Yankees saved him for another day."...

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