When Aroldis Chapman hits 97 mph on the radar gun, it normally covers the bills — the Yankee closer averages around $100,000 per reported out in a typical year. However, Chapman is the one who pays when he hits 97 on the gun in his white Porsche in a 70-mile-per-hour environment.
To be precise, $278.
Players and coaches in the New York Yankees organization have accrued more than 40 traffic tickets in Florida during the last decade, with more than half occurring between the months of February and March, as the Yankees prepare for the season in Tampa, according to a Daily News analysis of Florida court records.
21 of the 42 tickets were distributed to the team during the two months when players and coaches return to Tampa for spring training. Others visited while players were on the team formerly known as the Tampa Yankees, either during the summer or during the regular season.
The analysis included personnel from the last ten Yankee rosters, including players, coaches, and front office staff. All tickets were purchased between 2012 and 2020 when players were with the Yankees or their minor league affiliates. As a result, instances such as the time former Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius was ticketed for doing 91 in a 50 a few months after signing with the Phillies were omitted from the study. Naturally, Gregorius identified his address at the time as “1 Steinbrenner Dr, Tampa, FL” — also known as George M. Steinbrenner Field, the Yankees’ spring training facility — indicating that he was still wearing the pinstripes in spirit.
Cops apprehended the Bronx Bombers for a number of reasons: They ran red lights, raced through stop signs, made incorrect turns, or sped at the same rate as Chapman. The Yankees claim to have provided free transportation to players, coaches, and field workers during spring training for at least a decade.
And the Steinbrenner family was not immune from the long arm of Florida’s traffic justice system, with Hal Steinbrenner paying a fine for a seat belt violation in 1997.
However, the onslaught of tickets has taken a recent turn. According to existing reports, the 2021 Yankees remained free of new moving breaches during spring training. (Speeding tickets in the Tampa Bay area decreased by 92 percent in 2020, when cops were instructed to stop ticketing minor traffic violations.)
Prior to the pandemic, according to the Tampa Bay Times, Tampa police had a quota scheme that resulted in the most violent traffic control in all of Florida.
Without a doubt, the most extreme crime occurred in 2019, when first baseman Mike Ford was arrested late at night before a spring training off-day — just months before making his major league debut, The News discovered.
According to court records, the case, which had not previously been registered, was later adjudicated as “reckless driving” after he pleaded no contest to the lesser charge and completed DUI school in early 2020.
According to the Yankees, Ford quickly notified the team of the incident. They refused to comment on potential disciplinary action.
Ford representatives declined to comment.
Several other Yankees have been charged with DUIs in Florida, but unlike Ford’s case, they were previously reported: outfielder Mason Williams (2013) and pitcher Michael Pineda (2014). (2012).
Former and current Yankees players were also involved, with Aaron Judge purchasing two tickets in March 2019 and ace Gerrit Cole was arrested for speeding in the minors in 2012. CC Sabathia was ticketed four times during his career in pinstripes, including three times during spring training in 2016-17. Sabathia pleaded guilty in 2017 to speeding 80 miles per hour in a 60.
Alex Rodriguez was reprimanded in February 2010 for “following too closely.”
In 2019 and 2020, starting pitcher Domingo German was issued four tickets for running red lights. Three of the tickets were issued when he was on an MLB suspension for domestic violence.
German had the most tickets of any player or coach. On April 17, 2014 — the day after the Yankees defeated the Rays 10-2 in Tampa — former manager Joe Girardi was ticketed for three infractions, but all three, including speeding, were dismissed.
Larry Rothschild, Girardi’s pitching instructor, has had three tickets withdrawn after being pulled over for speeding in 2014 and 2017. Rothschild, who is now the Padres’ pitching coach, has been ticketed in Florida in at least six cases, but only three occurred when he was an MLB coach. Dellin Betances of the Mets was ticketed four times during his tenure in the Yankees organization, three of which occurred when he was a minor leaguer from 2008 to 2010.
15 of the tickets were issued for speeding. Ten more were charged with running red lights or stop signs. The remainder were mostly traveling breaches. Sabathia, Rothschild, Girardi, and former first baseman Greg Bird were among a select number of players whose tickets were tacked with registration or insurance violations.
A similar court analysis conducted for the Mets unearthed significantly fewer tickets. The Mets train in Port St. Lucie, which is renowned for being one of the most sleepy spring training cities, while the Yankees train in Tampa. The team sells the majority, but not all, of its tickets in Hillsborough County, which includes Tampa.
According to Tampa police, roads becoming less congested as a result of the pandemic resulted in a rise in extreme speeding in the spring of 2020, despite a decrease in overall ticketing. Clint Frazier, Michael King, and third base coach Phil Nevin were all livid at the cancellation of 2020 spring training on March 12 due to the pandemic. However, the toughest year on the streets for the Yankees was 2019.
Along with Ford’s reckless driving incident, the Yankees earned four additional citations during the previous pre-pandemic spring training. Aaron Judge received two citations in one incident for excessive passing and an improper left turn, German (pre-suspension) ran a red light, and Chance Adams was pulled over for speeding 77 mph in a 45 mph zone. Adams’ ticket was later thrown out.
Until 2021, at least one Yankee was scheduled to play in Florida per season. There was just one year with less than three. Gleyber Torres was pulled over during 2018 spring training for going 64 in a 45, continuing the record for another year.