Chicago Cubs Under Fire for Playing Off Pitcher Suspended for Domestic Violence with 'Smack My Bitch Up'

Jon Durr/Getty Images
 Aroldis Chapman of the Chicago Cubs walks to the dugout on July 26, 2016 in Chicago. 

At baseball games, music plays an important role -- players even select their own walk-up songs (now cataloged on MLB's website) to arrive at the plate as prepared as possible. Picks are typically family-friendly, though, which is part of what made Sunday's Chicago Cubs home loss to the St. Louis Cardinals (Aug. 14) so newsworthy. The team elected to play off relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman -- who began the season serving a 30-game suspension under the league's new domestic violence policy -- with The Prodigy's controversial 1997 single "Smack My Bitch Up."

Chapman's suspension was prompted by an incident in October 2015 in which he allegedly choked his girlfriend Cristina Barnea and fired eight shots in the garage of his Florida home. Prosecutors declined to press charges, citing insufficient evidence, but MLB went forward with their own suspension.

"Smack My Bitch Up" -- whose sole lyrics are "Change my pitch up/smack my bitch up" -- was controversial at the time of its release, and even banned by the BBC over fears that it encouraged violence against women. Even so, it peaked at No. 89 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1998. MTV also banned the video, which featured explicit sex scenes, groping of multiple women and drug use and was labeled misogynistic due to scenes depicting violence against women (despite the -- spoiler alert -- reveal that the protagonist is female). 

After the song choice was initially reported by ESPN's Sarah Spain, the team responded, saying -- per a report from ESPN -- that it was unintentional, and "unfortunate and should not have happened." At press time, the Cubs had not responded to Billboard's request for comment.

Update: Per ESPN, the Cubs have apologized for the "irresponsible music selection" during yesterday's game, and "terminated [their] relationship with the employee responsible." The full statement is below: