Ryan Dempster Should Be Suspended

Yeah--you--Dempster. You're as big a jerk as the guy you threw at. 

I’m a Yankees fan but, like millions of others, I dislike Alex Rodriguez. If you ask me whether or not I think he has used PEDs and other substances banned since 2005, I’d say he probably did. I would hasten to say, though, that I can’t prove that–and it’s possible that Major League Baseball can’t either. Like Lance Armstrong, there’s a lot more innuendo than material evidence ,and Rodriguez strikes me as such an egoist that I’d certainly not hold my breath waiting for an Armstrong-like come-to-Jesus confessional. 

For all of what I suspect about Rodriguez, the guys playing the he said/he-said accusation game are no more credible than A-Rod. Unless there’s a smoking syringe out there with datable A-Rod DNA on it, I’d not be surprised to see A-Rod beat the rap. It happens–bad guys with good lawyers beat charges even if they’re actually guilty as hell. But for all the flaws of official channels, be they league standards or the legal system, they beat the alternative: vigilante justice.

This brings me to a guy who proved himself as big a horse’s posterior as Rodriguez could ever prove to be: Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster. In case you missed it, in the second inning of last night’s Red Sox-Yankees matchup, Dempster through his first pitch at A-Rod’s knee. On a 3-0 count, he hit him on the elbow and side. The tape on this shows the obvious: Dempter’s pitches didn’t get away; he was playing headhunter. Home plate umpire Brain O’Nora blew the call–Dempster should have been ejected immediately. Instead, Yankees Manager Joe Girardi was tossed for giving O’Nora the cursing out he so richly deserved. The next trip to the plate, Rodriguez blasted a Dempster pitch over the centerfield fence, which just goes to prove that at this stage of their careers a diminished Rodriguez remains a better hitter than Dempster is pitcher. And it certainly proves that he has more pride.

Plunking A-Rod makes Dempster a folk hero in some circles, but it shouldn’t. Vigilante justice is never a substitute for the real thing. Who is Ryan Dempster to think that he is the guy to deliver A-Rod’s just desserts? .) A-Rod is a major distraction, maybe even a disgrace, but he has the right to appeal and confront the evidence (or lack thereof) against him. Maybe someone out to remind Dempster that his own union, the Players’ Association, negotiated such an agreement. Now the ball is in Joe Torre’s mitt. As Executive VP for Baseball Operations, it’s his job to review the tape and determine whether or not Dempster should be suspended. One can think what one wishes about Alex Rodriguez, but if Torre is interested in playing by the rules rather than yielding to lynch mob mentality, he ought to rescind Joe Girardi’s fine and suspend Ryan Dempster for at least ten games. (Fifteen would be not be inappropriate.) Until A-Rod’s fate is settled by due process, Torre needs to nip in the bud vigilante behavior such as Dempster’s.

To all Red Sox fans flooding the talk radio shows in defense of your folk hero, consider this. What if Dempster does get the 10-15 game suspension he deserves and misses a few starts? He’s not a great pitcher–he never was; he’s 130-133 lifetime and his ERA is well over 4–but in a crucial September series against Tampa or Baltimore, do you want to hand the ball to a not-yet-ready AAA pitcher like Webster or Workman? And what if the Sox miss the pennant by a game and go on to play and lose the one-game Wild Card matchup? How then would you feel about your folk hero? I know the label I’d put on him: jerk.


Anonymous said...

His first pitch went behind ARod's knees not anywhere near his head. Pitchers hit guys all the time on purpose and don't get suspended 10-15 games. Cole Hamels was suspended for 5 games for hitting Bryce Harper and telling the media he did it on purpose after the fact.

Anonymous said...

That Hamels only got 5 was a travesty. But we've got an even different scenario here. If Torre doesn't stop this right now, lots of guys will throw at A-Rod and someone is going to get hurt--perhaps badly. This is one of situations in which Torre has to send the proverbial message. Besides 5 games means nothing as it would mean that Dempster wouldn't miss a start as the Sox have days off and could work around that. Dempster was playing punk & should go down for that.