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Monday, February 10, 2014

A World of His Own: Espn profile of Aroldis Chapman

“IT IS WELL past noon in the mansion they call the American Dream House, and the owner has yet to wake up. Half a dozen friends and relatives sit under an imported Italian chandelier in the living room, watching the hours pass on a silver-plated clock, waiting for Aroldis Chapman to come downstairs. House rules dictate that nobody disturbs him; it is Chapman’s $30 million contract that paid for this house, and it is his singular left arm that brought his family from a coastal province in Cuba to the manicured suburbs of Florida’s gold coast, wher
“We are usually just sitting here, trying to pass the hours,” says Maria Caridad, his mother, speaking in Spanish as the clock closes in on 1 p.m. She mops the kitchen floor even though a crew of six housecleaners performed the same chore a few days earlier. She turns on some salsa music and cooks pigs’ feet on the kitchen stove, leaning over the pot to inhale the familiar smell. “This reminds me of Cuba,” she says. “Of home.”
Across the living room, her husband and Aroldis’ father, Juan Alberto, turns the TV to Channel 374, the only Spanish-language station available on their deluxe cable package. One of Chapman’s assistants has been teaching Juan Alberto some English, hoping to ease the 74-year-old’s transition to the United States, but the lessons fail to solve a bigger problem. “I’m too old to learn, and there’s no one here I need to talk to anyway,” he says, so he settles into the recliner for his third Cuban soap opera of the day.

Every new immigrant in this household has developed an antidote to boredom, and for Aroldis, it is sleep. Midday gives way to early afternoon. Early afternoon turns toward dusk. His parents move outside to sit by the swimming pool, where they study the ornate drapes of his second-story bedroom for any sign of movement. Some days during the offseason, the Reds’ 25-year-old closer stays in his room until sunset, sleeping, watching movies or just throwing a racquetball against his bedroom wall.

Finally, a few minutes before 4 p.m., the curtains lift and Chapman descends the spiral staircase to the pool deck. He wears sandals, sunglasses and a tank top obscured by heavy gold chains. He lights a Marlboro Red cigarette and flops down onto an all-weather mattress near the pool.

“Why so late like this?” Maria Caridad asks. “Why all this sleeping?”

“There’s nothing else to do,” he says.”

Bourbon Samurai in Asia Posted: February 10, 2014 at 12:40 PM | 47 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cuban baseball, reds

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   1. smileyy Posted: February 10, 2014 at 02:32 PM (#4654321)
How does a deluxe cable package in Florida only have one Spanish-language station? Someone needs to get him a better cable/satellite provider.
   2. steagles Posted: February 10, 2014 at 02:39 PM (#4654324)
How does a deluxe cable package in Florida only have one Spanish-language station? Someone needs to get him a better cable/satellite provider.
it seems more likely that it's the only cuban station.
   3. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: February 10, 2014 at 02:54 PM (#4654339)
This sounds like it will end well.
   4. The Yankee Clapper Posted: February 10, 2014 at 03:21 PM (#4654360)
RTFA and you have to be concerned about Chapman's money management. Hope he has a long career because it looks like $20-30M won't be enough to tide him over in his golden years.
   5. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: February 10, 2014 at 03:27 PM (#4654369)
Across the living room, her husband and Aroldis’ father, Juan Alberto, turns the TV to Channel 374, the only Spanish-language station available on their deluxe cable package.


Really? I get about 10 as part of basic cable, his house is in Broward County, how is it possible they get only 1 spanish language channnel?
   6. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: February 10, 2014 at 03:28 PM (#4654371)
Quite interesting the contrast here between Chapman and Puig.
   7. valuearbitrageur Posted: February 10, 2014 at 03:30 PM (#4654373)
Somebody buy the kid an XBox.
   8. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: February 10, 2014 at 03:30 PM (#4654376)
Most of the channel 374 mentions on Google are for BYU TV on Direct TV. I like this translation of that sentence:
Across a vital room, her father and Aroldis’ father, Juan Alberto, turns a TV to Channel 374, a usually Spanish-language hire accessible on their fine wire package
   9. puck Posted: February 10, 2014 at 04:47 PM (#4654415)
“Why so late like this?” Maria Caridad asks. “Why all this sleeping?”

“There’s nothing else to do,” he says.”


They left this out of that Coca Cola ad.
   10. Accent Shallow Posted: February 10, 2014 at 04:49 PM (#4654417)
It's easy to see an ugly ending to this. Hope he's able to make the transition successfully.
   11. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 10, 2014 at 04:57 PM (#4654419)
It's easy to see an ugly ending to this. Hope he's able to make the transition successfully.

Transition? It's not like a Cuban lacks for a taste of home in the Miami area.

I'm at a loss to what activities were available as a poor man in Cuba that are unavailable as a rich man in Miami.
   12. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: February 10, 2014 at 05:15 PM (#4654426)
I'm at a loss to what activities were available as a poor man in Cuba that are unavailable as a rich man in Miami.
Multiple TV channels, apparently. I'd listen if Mr. Chapman called to offer me a job as Television Remote Control Liaison.
   13. Anonymous Observer Posted: February 10, 2014 at 05:20 PM (#4654435)
I'm at a loss to what activities were available as a poor man in Cuba that are unavailable as a rich man in Miami.


Harvesting sugar cane.
   14. Lars6788 Posted: February 10, 2014 at 05:22 PM (#4654437)
I don't know if this is true for anyone else but there maybe 150-200 channels I can presumably watch on TV but for me it's just the MLB Network and five to 10 other channels - other than that, I can't relate to anything else being put out by the cable provider.
   15. The Good Face Posted: February 10, 2014 at 05:27 PM (#4654442)
I'm at a loss to what activities were available as a poor man in Cuba that are unavailable as a rich man in Miami.


Spying on your neighbors at the behest of the Castro brothers?

Of course, his issues aren't really related to not having enough activities to keep him busy. More a case of losing the community and social ties that sustained him back in the day. It's hard to build that stuff up from scratch, especially as a newly rich athlete who everybody is looking to take a bite out of.
   16. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 10, 2014 at 05:43 PM (#4654448)
Of course, his issues aren't really related to not having enough activities to keep him busy. More a case of losing the community and social ties that sustained him back in the day. It's hard to build that stuff up from scratch, especially as a newly rich athlete who everybody is looking to take a bite out of.

It's especially hard if you never leave your house.

How about other MLBers? There must be about 500 of 'em in Florida in the Winter.
   17. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: February 10, 2014 at 06:13 PM (#4654461)
So he pitches like 70 innings a season and spends the rest of the year killing time?

RTFA and you have to be concerned about Chapman's money management. Hope he has a long career because it looks like $20-30M won't be enough to tide him over in his golden years.

He seems to get little joy out of the money anyway.
   18. God Posted: February 10, 2014 at 07:56 PM (#4654507)

He seems to get little joy out of the money anyway.


I don't know, one thing we do know is that he uses it to bring hookers to accompany him on team road trips. That kind of sounds like fun. Or something.
   19. Traderdave Posted: February 10, 2014 at 08:14 PM (#4654514)
How do we know that?
   20. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: February 10, 2014 at 08:17 PM (#4654515)
How do we know that?
The article says he hires strippers to meet him at hotel rooms on the road. Maybe he really is bad with money and they're just strippers.
   21. God Posted: February 10, 2014 at 08:23 PM (#4654517)
How do we know that?

Because it was in the news a couple of years ago.
   22. Traderdave Posted: February 10, 2014 at 09:17 PM (#4654536)
Thanks, I had not heard.

But I thought one of the main advantages of being a pro athlete was that chicks pursued you. Why on earth is he paying?
   23. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 10, 2014 at 09:23 PM (#4654539)
But I thought one of the main advantages of being a pro athlete was that chicks pursued you. Why on earth is he paying?

Based on TFA, I'd say he's as dumb as a box of rocks. This is a 25 y.o. millionaire, professional athlete, who can't find anything to do in Miami. Can't be the sharpest tool in the shed.
   24. Lars6788 Posted: February 10, 2014 at 10:18 PM (#4654551)

But I thought one of the main advantages of being a pro athlete was that chicks pursued you. Why on earth is he paying?


He's a pro athlete - they want to pay for the company of women for sex, not a relationship or kids afterwards - pro athletes don't want the residue of something clinging onto them after the fact when most of the women pursuing them are doing so because they know they are loaded and are expecting some kind of relationship with a sugar daddy.
   25. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: February 10, 2014 at 10:31 PM (#4654558)
But I thought one of the main advantages of being a pro athlete was that chicks pursued you. Why on earth is he paying?


I don't pay them for sex. I pay them to leave -- Charlie Sheen
   26. Rants Mulliniks Posted: February 11, 2014 at 09:46 AM (#4654672)
The books in his personal library are not only titled in unfamiliar English but are hollowed and fake, bought by his home designer at World Market for $5.99 each.


I knew you could buy fake books, but I assumed they were in modular units for easy setup. The notion of spending $6 on a fake book when you could buy 5 classic real books for the same price is just mind blowing to me in its waste and ostentation. At least with real books his visitors might have something to do other than sit around and watch soaps.
   27. depletion Posted: February 11, 2014 at 09:46 AM (#4654673)
My experience is that in a rural, less well off town, there isn't much concept of leisure time. The sun comes up, kids take the livestock out to the pasture, Dad takes the water cans to the town well brings back water, Mom cooks breakfast (no microwave, no toaster). Mom heat up water for personal washing. Everyone washes up after breakfast. Kids walk to school. Dad walks to work. Mom hand washes dishes, heats up water to wash clothes, walks to town market.... After school, kids bring animals back from pasture and milk them.
You get the idea. Now take away 78% of the work. Bounce ball off wall of bedroom 3,485 times...
   28. Hal Chase School of Professionalism Posted: February 11, 2014 at 10:23 AM (#4654693)
If he's sleeping until 4 in the afternoon, there's no way he's going back to bed at 9. He's up all night. He's doing the "Elvis in Las Vegas" lifestyle.
   29. jingoist Posted: February 11, 2014 at 12:18 PM (#4654763)
Rod Sterling did a similarly themed program on the Twilight Zone where what looked at first like heaven was in reality hell.
   30. Spectral Posted: February 11, 2014 at 12:24 PM (#4654774)
He sure comes off as an unimaginative, incurious idiot that happened to be blessed with an arm of gold. I can't say I feel particularly bad about the bankruptcy that he appears to be about five to ten years away from.
   31. Joe Kehoskie Posted: February 11, 2014 at 01:18 PM (#4654838)
Based on TFA, I'd say he's as dumb as a box of rocks. This is a 25 y.o. millionaire, professional athlete, who can't find anything to do in Miami. Can't be the sharpest tool in the shed.

Chapman's not the sharpest tool in the shed, but he purposely bought a house about an hour from Miami, which was a very smart move.

As much as I hate to play internet psychologist, when I read this story, my first takeaway was that Chapman seems to be mired in a deep depression (assuming, of course, that the story accurately depicts his day-to-day habits/lifestyle). Rich, 25-year-old all-stars who were recently reunited with their families shouldn't be sleeping until the evening and generally moping around the house all day.
   32. ASmitty Posted: February 11, 2014 at 01:34 PM (#4654849)
As much as I hate to play internet psychologist, when I read this story, my first takeaway was that Chapman seems to be mired in a deep depression (assuming, of course, that the story accurately depicts his day-to-day habits/lifestyle). Rich, 25-year-old all-stars who were recently reunited with their families shouldn't be sleeping until the evening and generally moping around the house all day.


Indeed. He comes off as a rich baseball player who doesn't care for being rich or playing baseball. While much ado is being made of his financial decisions, the biggest expenditures in the article are a mansion he apparently thought he was supposed to buy, and donations to help support less-fortunate Cuban defectors. The first is a fairly understandable mistake on the part of a young, rich, defector, and the other is actually rather sweet.

He sounds quite homesick, but not just for the people he grew up with, but for a simpler, more anonymous, and less glamorous life. That doesn't seem so irrational. I imagine a guy in Chapman's position could surround himself with hundreds more people in the US than he had around him in Cuba, while still having fewer actual, meaningful connections.

EDIT: Oops, forgot about the sports cars. Those are expensive. Nevertheless, even then he seems like he's trying, and failing, to fill a personal void with objects. Not all that uncommon.
   33. valuearbitrageur Posted: February 11, 2014 at 01:55 PM (#4654864)
Nevertheless, even then he seems like he's trying, and failing, to fill a personal void with objects. Not all that uncommon.


That's what his hooker said.
   34. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: February 11, 2014 at 03:43 PM (#4654975)
If we're going to be internet psychologists, I'll take my stab.

He spent the last 10 years attempting to leverage his athletic skills to escape political oppression and a life of poverty. He succeeded, only to end up in a strange country without any friends or family. A major league baseball season is a never ending grind of games, airplanes, and hotels. Like many, he has found the goal isn't as sweet or fulfilling as he thought it'd be.

His support of boxers reflects this. "This is as much for me as it is for them," he says. "They get some money. I get some of the old excitement."
   35. Rants Mulliniks Posted: February 11, 2014 at 03:53 PM (#4654981)
This just in: Money does not correlate with happiness.
   36. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 11, 2014 at 03:55 PM (#4654982)
He spent the last 10 years attempting to leverage his athletic skills to escape political oppression and a life of poverty. He succeeded, only to end up in a strange country without any friends or family. A major league baseball season is a never ending grind of games, airplanes, and hotels. Like many, he has found the goal isn't as sweet or fulfilling as he thought it'd be.

One quibble; his parents apparently live with him. So, he has family.
   37. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: February 11, 2014 at 04:11 PM (#4654994)
He defected in July 2009, his parents arrived in January 2013, his girlfriend and daughter arrived in January 2014. That is a long time by himself in a country where he doesn't speak the language.

   38. Jeff R., P***y Mainlander Posted: February 11, 2014 at 04:19 PM (#4655002)
One quibble; his parents apparently live with him. So, he has family.


So unlike the rest of us, his mother lives in his basement?
   39. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 11, 2014 at 04:22 PM (#4655004)
That is a long time by himself in a country where he doesn't speak the language.

Speaking Spanish in MLB and south Florida isn't really "not speaking the language".
   40. JRVJ Posted: February 11, 2014 at 04:26 PM (#4655007)
If memory serves me well, El Duque Hernández used to hang out at a restaurant in Spanish Harlem during his playing games (I seem to recall him often playing Dominoes there, but I did read The Duke of Havana over 10 years ago).

In any case, from this profile and one I read when Chapman deffected, I get the very strong impression that he has ADD. Other than that, one would hope that Chapman would find a hobby (or five).
   41. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: February 11, 2014 at 04:31 PM (#4655011)

Speaking Spanish in MLB and south Florida isn't really "not speaking the language".


I have family in Miami and we have spent a lot of time there over the years. My mother is fond of saying that you don't have to be bilingual in Miami, you just need to speak Spanish.
   42. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: February 11, 2014 at 04:33 PM (#4655012)
His support of boxers reflects this. "This is as much for me as it is for them," he says. "They get some money. I get some of the old excitement."


Cuba used to have a fairly strong amateur boxing program and churned out a handful of potentially elite talents. It's an absolute shame to someone like me that the very best, most tantalizing fighters from Cuba's last 50 years were relegated to amateur bouts and their limitations. When I think of some of the great Cuban boxing talent from before the revolution, exciting and skilled technicians like Kid Chocolate, Kid Gavilan, and Jose Napoles, it saddens me to know that we'll never know what men like multiple Olympic heavyweight champions Teofilo Stevenson and Felix Savon could have done in the professional ranks. I think boxing missed out big-time.
   43. Lars6788 Posted: February 11, 2014 at 04:34 PM (#4655014)
If he's sleeping until 4 in the afternoon, there's no way he's going back to bed at 9. He's up all night. He's doing the "Elvis in Las Vegas" lifestyle.


Have you seen his Instagram page where he posts many personal pictures for anyone to see - probably more or less confirms this.

http://instagram.com/_thecubanmissile54
   44. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: February 11, 2014 at 05:29 PM (#4655061)
Speaking Spanish in MLB and south Florida isn't really "not speaking the language".

You are totally correct. There should be zero assimilation problems for Chapman. Thanks.
   45. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: February 11, 2014 at 06:19 PM (#4655112)
You are totally correct. There should be zero assimilation problems for Chapman. Thanks.


Right. If you take some cornfed flamethrower from the Iowa fields and plop him down in Manhattan or Boston, he wouldn't have any problems assimilating. He speaks the language.
   46. Willie Mayspedester Posted: February 11, 2014 at 08:43 PM (#4655183)
Resistance is futile!
   47. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: February 11, 2014 at 08:49 PM (#4655187)
This article makes me feel compassion for Aroldis Chapman. He does not play for the Braves. I am conflicted and confused. ######.

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