In front of a cheering Boston Red Sox crowd at Fenway Park, Ryan Dempster did what so many major leaguers have likely considered, but didn’t have the courage to do. With the Red Sox staked to an early 2-0 lead, Dempster threw three close pitches to New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez. With the count 3-0, he used his fourth pitch, a fastball, to plunk Rodriguez square in the shoulder.
Dempster was not provoked as none of the Boston players had been hit by Yankee pitcher C.C. Sabathia. Rather, the intent to hit Rodriguez seemed to stem from something else.
In the recent weeks since everything with the Biogenesis scandal has come out, many of the players across the league have expressed their sentiments regarding steroids and steroid users. Phenom Mike Trout believes all PED users should be banned for life and others have expressed extreme disappointment in learning of some of the players who were suspended.
Not the least of which, was Rodriguez.
Rodriguez was handed a 211-game suspension from Bud Selig and the commissioner’s office as punishment for violating the MLB‘s Drug and Illegal Substance Policy. Of course, continuing to proclaim his innocence and outraged at the length of suspension, Rodriguez appealed. Because his appeal won’t be heard until November, he has the ability to play for the Yankees for the rest of the season and potentially postseason if the team gets that far.
Not everyone in baseball likes or agrees with this, including Dempster’s teammate, John Lackey.
Lackey was very animated in his comments regarding Rodriguez’s playing status saying:
“I’ve got a problem with it. You bet I do. How is he still playing? He obviously did something and he’s playing. I’m not sure that’s right… It’s pretty evident he’s been doing stuff for a lot of years I’ve been facing him.”
Lackey also added that Rodriguez is a topic that has frequently come up in the Boston clubhouse and that has been discussed, especially among the pitchers.
And as the starter of the second game in the series, Lackey had his opportunity to hit Rodriguez, but he didn’t. Dempster meanwhile did.
And although Dempster has since denied hitting Rodriguez on purpose, instead chalking it up to an inside pitch that went just a little too high and a little too inside, it is pretty clear exactly what he was doing and why he was doing it.
Especially with the news that Rodriguez may have sold out Ryan Braun as well as his own teammate in the Biogenesis mess, it wouldn’t be surprising if Dempster was just the first of many pitchers who will at least consider pelting Rodriguez in the near future.
I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, but it’s baseball. And the clean players around the league have every reason to be upset at guys like Rodriguez. How they choose to handle their emotions is their business. And how, or if, the commissioner chooses to suspend or fine them is his. Although, if Dempster is not in some way reprimanded, I think it will show pretty clearly to the players where the league stands in all of this.
Either way, what Dempster did and the reaction it received just confirms that the perception around the league of Rodriguez is very unfavorable.