Former Cubs’ pitcher Ryan Dempster was always a leader in the clubhouse at Wrigley Field.
He was known for keeping the mood light, making jokes with teammates and priceless Harry Caray impressions.
On Sunday night at Fenway Park, the right-hander became known for something completely different altogether: making things personal between the Red Sox and Yankees.
Dempster drilled recently reinstated Yankees’ third baseman Alex Rodriguez with a fastball after missing him narrowly with the three pitches prior, setting off the powder keg that is the Boston-New York rivalry. As soon as the pitch hit Rodriguez, bullpens cleared, several members of each bench came out and as they say, it really hit the fan. NBC Sports offered this summary of the events.
“After the Red Sox took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, third baseman Alex Rodriguez led off the top of the second inning for the Yankees. Sox starter Ryan Dempster‘s first pitch to Rodriguez was a fastball that went behind him towards his legs. Dempster’s next two pitches were waist-high inside, and on the fourth pitch Dempster plunked Rodriguez in the shoulder with a fastball. A very pleased Red Sox crowd became raucous, cheering in support of their pitcher.”
Yankees’ skipper Joe Girardi went ballistic, screaming profanities towards Dempster, which quickly led to his ejection from the contest. Despite the fact that the beaning was clearly intentional, Dempster was not ejected, and received a mere warning for his actions.
This is something that was rare during Dempster’s time as a member of the Cubs. He was always known as the lighthearted member of the club, always ready to defend his teammates, but rarely the instigator in matter such as those that took place at Fenway Park Sunday night.
What can be said for his actions? It’s the Red Sox and Yankees. It’s pennant chase baseball. Boston is seeking to hang onto first place in the American League East as the season enters its final stretch, and New York is desperately seeking to remain in contention, as the only headlines this club has made revolved around an aging roster and the ever-evolving drama surrounding A-Rod.
Regardless of where you stand (and most of the baseball world seems to stand anywhere that opposes Rodriguez), instances such as these bring two things to mind: 1) There is nothing like rivalry games. From the countless Red Sox – Yankees matchups throughout the years to the classic battles between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire in the late 1990, emotions are endless in these matchups. 2) Nothing ignites a fire in a player like playoff contention. While Dempster was mild mannered in his time with Chicago, his time with the Red Sox has changed him, evidenced by tonight.
Dempster went 67-66 in nine years with the Cubs, posting a 3.74 ERA in 374 appearances, roughly half of which were starts. He was traded to the Texas Rangers last season near the Trade Deadline, and signed with the Red Sox this past offseason.
Let us know what you thought of the incident. Tweet us at @CubbiesCrib and let’s talk about what happened in Beantown tonight.