Dempster Plunks A-Rod. But Was It A Good Move?
Sunday, August 18, 2013
It may not have been Jason Varitek's glove to the face of A-Rod, but it certainly had that type of feel.
Sunday night at Fenway Park, Red Sox starting pitcher Ryan Depmster did something that made a lot of Major League Baseball players and fans very happy. He intentionally hit Yankees' slugger Alex Rodriguez with a pitch.
Make no mistake about it, this was not a pitch that "got away" from Dempster. This was a pitch that had meaning.
After throwing behind A-Rod's knees on the first pitch of the at-bat, Dempster came inside on him twice more before delivering a Rawlings to the rib cage of baseball's most controversial player.
That drew an immediate warning from home playe umpire Brian O-Nora for both benches drawing the ire of Yankee skipper Joe Girardi who came storming out of the New York dugout. Girardi could be seen telling O'Nora that Dempster threw at A-Rod three times before hitting him in the at-bat meaning he should be tossed. Instead, Girardi got to take an early shower.
The question is, was Dempster's decision to plunk A-Rod a smart one?
On the surface, one might say that it's no big deal. However, as it turned out, it was.
The Yankees plated two runs in the top of the second inning to ties the game 2-2 after Boston had put up a crooked number in the bottom of the first.
More importantly, the Red Sox are in a tight pennant race leading second place Tampa by just 1 1/2 games in the AL East coming into Sunday night's game. Every win, or every loss, at this point of the season can be critical and that decision by Dempster put Boston's chance to win Sunday night in jeopardy.
Futhermore, the Yankees have played a better brand of baseball of late despite still being in 4th place in the AL East. They were 8 1/2 games behind the Sox in the division race heading into Sunday night's game and just 7 back in the loss column.
It is likely that Rodriguez has many teammates that don't like or respect him at this point because of everything that has gone on with him and the Biogenesis Clinic mess. Did Dempster give his Yankee teammates something to rally around? Possibly. Although there didn't seem to be nearly as many Yankee players coming out of the dugout in support of their star third basemen as there were Red Sox players rushing onto the field.
A-Rod has done a great job thus far of digging his own grave. His latest gem has his attorney filing a grievance against the Yankees for playing him intentionally while he was hurt late last year. This has prompted Yankee GM Brian Cashman to say that he isn't sure that he can talk to or about A-Rod any longer because of a possible impending lawsuit.
Meanwhile, Yankee president Randy Levine has told Rodriguez and his representatives to "put up, or shut up!" Levine has challenged him to release his medical records to prove that the Yankees were not operating in his best interests.
But back to Dempster's decision to hit A-Rod tonight. Maybe Dempster was simply doing a favor for teammate John Lackey who pronounced his disdain for A-Rod the other day but did not take the opportunity to plunk him.
While it drew a rousing ovation from the Fenway faithful and plenty of smiles from baseball fans throughout the country, he may have woken a sleeping giant and, possibly, hurt Boston's chances of being a playoff team in 2013. And making the playoffs should be Boston's top priority.
p.s. The above story was written and posted minutes after Dempster hit A-Rod Sunday night long before the outcome of the game was decided. In retrospect, Boston's worst fears were realized. Dempster's actions may have awoken a sleeping giant as A-Rod went 3-4 and homered Sunday night. Based upon the comments out of the Yankee locker room after the game, the incident also may have galvanized that team and made them get behind A-Rod more than they otherwise would have at this point. And, most importantly, the Red Sox LOST to the Yankees and are now a mere half game ahead of Tampa in the division standings.