A week and a half ago New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez was given a 211 game suspension by Major League Baseball for drug related offences (Rodriguez is playing while he appeals the suspension). On Sunday night Boston Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster threw a pitch at and hit Rodriguez. He had missed him with his first attempt which went behind Rodriguez’ legs – major league pitchers rarely throw behind batters unless attempting to hit them and missing, or just sending a message. His fourth pitch was more accurate and struck Rodriguez in the mid-section after it ricocheted of his elbow pad. It was clearly intentional. Was it at Rodriguez’ head? Nope. Was it at his knees? Nope. It was thrown at a part of him that probably wouldn’t cause any serious injury, but would send a clear message.
It was thrown at a part of him that probably wouldn’t cause any serious injury, but would send a clear message.
What was that message? We don’t know for sure as Dempster says it was not intentional; mind you that’s something he has to say if he wants to avoid being suspended himself. There are certainly instances in baseball games when a batter gets knocked down or hit because of something that transpired in the game. Something like admiring your home run a little too long, or stealing a base when your team has a substantial lead. But there was no game-related reason for Dempster to throw at Rodriguez. One can only assume he did it in reaction to Rodriguez’ appealing his recent suspension from Major League Baseball.
There has been no shortage of reaction to the severe suspension. Fans and commentators have debated the length of the ban; journalists have spent hours writing about it. Perhaps the most telling reactions have been signs posted at games by fans calling Rodriguez a cheater as well as their hoots of derision when his name is announced.
I like to think Dempster took a stand for baseball, that’s lower-case, all-inclusive baseball, not just Major League Baseball.
But Dempster’s pitch was the first reaction from a fellow player between the lines, not a teammate but another major-leaguer. Was it vigilantism? Well, sort of, but at least there was no serious attempt to injure, as I mentioned, a Major League pitcher who wants to cause serious harm with a pitch won’t throw at an elbow. Was Dempster annoyed that Rodriguez had ratted out a number of other players? Maybe. Did he think Rodriguez should have come clean? Could be.
One player letting another know he didn’t like what he was doing to their game.
I like to think Dempster took a stand for baseball, that’s lower-case, all-inclusive baseball, not just Major League Baseball. Maybe he’s just plain irked that a very highly paid mega-star has been juiced all along and, having been exposed, now has the audacity to appeal his suspension. Could it be Dempster thinks Rodriguez should have been banned completely? We may never know, but there was something positive about the incident. One player letting another know he didn’t like what he was doing to their game.
- Major League Baseball pretty much has to suspend Ryan Dempster, right? (hardballtalk.nbcsports.com)
- Dempster faces suspension, fine for hitting A-Rod (nydailynews.com)
- Ryan Dempster takes a stand (jeffpearlman.com)