Far too often baseball fans are left disgusted when their favorite athletes fail to do simple things such as run out a ground ball, a pop-fly, or just hustle on the diamond. For fans of the game, doing these things should be the easiest part of one’s job, especially considering the average salary in MLB is $3.39 million. The thought process goes, if you don’t have the drive to compete on the highest stage, why are you even out there in the first place?
It appears that Boston Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster knew that he was not going to be able, or willing to give his all during the 2014 MLB season, and he has subsequently decided to sit out the season. In doing this, he has given up $13.25 million in guaranteed salary and shown a level of class towards the game of baseball that has seemed to have been lacking over the last 10 to 15 years.
Dempster announced via Twitter that he was not going to play, where he commented that,”I don’t feel like I am capable of performing to the ability and standard that I am accustomed to. I feel it’s in the best interest of both the club but most importantly myself to step away from playing baseball at this time. The time is right. I’m not saying retirement but I definitely won’t be playing this season.”
These comments could easily be seen as Dempster being the rare athlete to come out and say that his heart was not going to be invested in playing their sport, and that instead of taking home a hefty salary while hurting their team they have decided to stay home instead. This thought process seems to be the anti-thesis of the guys like Alex Rodriguez, who coincidentally enough was intentionally beaned near the end of the 2013 season by Dempster. The fact that Rodriguez is sitting out 2014 because of selfish actions and Dempster because of selfless is both a testament to their characters, and to the split in how athletes now treat their professions.
Surely, some Red Sox fans will feel that the pitcher is giving up on his teammates and that this is reprehensible, but a further look at the team’s pitching situation shows this isn’t true. Boston has a proven and stable starting five in Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Jake Peavy, John Lackey and Felix Doubrant, with additional arms waiting in the wings at AA and AAA. Losing Dempster will not prove to be a fatal blow, especially if he was not going to be dedicated to winning another World Series.
All in all, it is encouraging to once again see that there are some athletes who are gracious enough to give up millions of dollars because they know their heart is not in the game. For this alone, Dempster should be applauded by fans of all different sports and teams, even if his story is not as juicy as that of Rodriguez and other cheaters.