Jeff Pearlman

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Ryan Dempster takes a stand

I love Ryan Dempster.

I’ve always loved Ryan Dempster.

Back when I was covering the Majors for Sports Illustrated, Ryan was one of my two or three favorite ballplayers to catch up with. First, he was funny. Like, really, really funny. Great impressionist (if I’m recalling correctly, he knew every line from “The Cable Guy”—he recited so spot on) who once tried selling his chewed gum as a TV gag. Second, he was accessible—if you needed someone to speak with after a Marlins game, Ryan was available (whether he tossed a three-hitter or whether he got shelled for 12 runs). Third, Ryan loved baseball. He was a traditionalist; a purist. The game meant something to him, well beyond a paycheck and some adulation. He knew what it meant to be a ballplayer. He felt the tradition. Absorbed it.

That’s why, when I watched the clip of Ryan beaning Alex Rodriguez last night, I smiled.

Many in the Twitter-verse (or whatever the hell it’s called) slammed Ryan, and I get it. What a pussy. It’s easy to do that when you don’t have to hit. Has he ever confronted his own cheating teammates (and Lord knows, Ryan’s had plenty of cheating teammates). On and on and on.

The points are valid. No doubt, they are.

And yet … I couldn’t help feeling that, with the pitch to Rodriguez’s body, Ryan was issuing a declaration on behalf of Major League Baseball’s clean, fed-up players. Namely: Fuck you.

Yes, fuck you.

Fuck you for cheating. Fuck you for stealing paychecks. Fuck you for influencing the outcomes of games. Fuck you for lying. Fuck you for dragging us all down. Fuck you—Ryan Braun and Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa and Roger Clemens and Miguel Tejada and Nelson Cruz and Barry Bonds and Jhonny Peralta and Paul Lo Duca and every other guy who felt the need to inject nonsense into their bodies to help accomplish what, naturally, they could not.

Fuck you.

I’ve told this story before here, I believe, but whenever I think of guys being screwed by PED, I think of Sal Fasano, my friend and longtime journeyman catcher. Sal was a good, solid Major Leaguer who refused to use performance enhancers. In 2007, Sal’s wife, Kerri, gave birth to a son, Santo, who was born with hypoplastic heart syndrome, a condition in which the left side of the heart is underdeveloped. At the time Sal was scratching and clawing to hold on to his Major League career, so that he’d also maintain the excellent MLB health care plan. It was a huge deal, considering Santo’s medical bills exceeded $1 million. Hence, Sal played and played and played and played in the minors, desperate for a call-up (which he finally received, with Cleveland).

Meanwhile, as we later learned from the Mitchell Report, seven different catchers (at the very least) were using PED to get ahead and maintain Major League gigs.

That’s what Sal Fasano was up against.

That’s why, this morning, I love Ryan Dempster.

  • Brad Smith

    Sometimes it’s nice to defend something with pure emotion. I enjoyed seeing A-Rod plunked because he’s a cheating scoundrel. Are there people justified in there feelings that it was a shitty thing to do, I guess. Honestly though, I’m just glad it happened.

  • Mike

    Jeff-

    Don’t get me wrong, I see where you are coming from on this. The Sal Fasano story sucks and ARod is literally a piece trash for everything he has done, along with all of the other cheaters on the Yankees and ALL other teams.

    But would’t you agree an epidemic of pitchers throwing fastballs at players would be much worse than PED usage. Talk about dangerous, I tweeted to you earlier that what if Dempster had lost control of that pitch just a little bit and it went to the side of his head? Aren’t we taking matters into our own hands in a violent way? Shouldn’t the system that the players union agreed to be able to play itself out? I hate PED’s and I hope ARod has his hearing tomorrow, the suspension is upheld, and he never plays anothr game in his career.

    But that should be the punishment, not a Ryan Dempster fastball. If someone has wronged me in a criminal way, and I come at them with a gun and fire a warning shot at them, I am going to be in trouble with the law. Why? Because if I had misfired that shot just a little I could have seriously injured the person and I should’ve just let the police take care of the person. Dempster should have done the same thing, instead he is setting a dangerour precedent. PED users deserve punishment, but not potential injury.

  • Matt

    How about striking him out instead? They had a two run lead, putting ARod on led to a run, and they lost the game. Dumb move, admittedly in hindsight. But I respect your opinion that at least Dempster had the balls to a stand against PED’s on the field.

    • Robert h

      By throwing a 92 mph fastball while standing 60ft 6inches away? You call that balls? I call it chicken shit.

  • B.E. Earl

    Except it’s entirely possible that Dempster didn’t bean A-Rod for his PED transgressions, but for a much more personal reason. That he was snubbed by A-Rod at an event some time ago, and he vowed to bean him the next time he pitched to him. That’s according to some reports after the incident last night. Or maybe it was some combination. We just don’t know what was going on in his head last night.

    Would he be as heroic a figure if he was simply retaliating for being ignored by the bigger star? I don’t know about that. More like childish and cowardly. And stupid. Especially considering that the Sox are in a race for the division title and purposely putting guys on base and maybe firing up your opponent isn’t a very good idea.

    Let’s see if Dempster talks about why he did it before labeling him as heroic. Or cowardly.

  • Barry

    I wonder if this hero also confronted David Ortiz over his drug use and is now shunning him?

    • gonzo

      or any of his other teammates as a union rep..hypocrite

    • Morris B

      He just might confront Ortiz.

      But only if Papi is carrying a camera or microphone.

      #MediaWhore

  • oswegos1

    Funny thing is it took Dempster 4 pitches to be able to hit A-Rod. By the way, who elected Dempster the representative of all the other players in the league? Does Dempster bean all of the cheaters he’s faced?
    Oh, fyi Jeffy, Dempster beaned ARod because Alex stood him up for a charity event. It had nothing to do with PEDs…..you should have checked on that first.

  • Jennifer Joyce

    If he is such a stand up guy why didn’t he admit to hitting him on purpose? Because he would have gotten suspended? So he lied to avoid suspension..hmmmm

  • Dave

    Ah yes, the sweet, sweet allure of vigilante justice, where we can justify winging a 90+ MPH pitch at someone’s head by drawing an attenuated reference to a child with a heart condition.

    Yes, Dempster’s actions sure warm the heart.

    • Jason

      Umm, last I checked, A-Rod’s head wasn’t located just above his knee (it may be lodged firmly within his ass, but it’s certainly nowhere to be seen on his left LEG). And, according to the video, it looks like Dempster’s heater was traveling at 89 MPH (or 90- if you will). But by all means don’t let facts get in the way of your arguments.

      • Dave

        I accept your corrections. Pretty sure that doesn’t change the point.

  • Tenth Man

    Hey Jeff:

    Here’s my declaration:

    Fuck you.

    And Ryan Dempster, too.

  • Nathan

    Jeff,
    Dempster said after the game that he didn’t try to hit A-Rod on purpose. So either your love is misguided, or you profess to love a player who not only broke the rules, but lied about it afterwards (hey, just like A-Rod!).

  • gonzo

    yeah quite the hero…apparently they don’t have google in Boston cuz if you google Red Sox steroids..he could have taken a real stand…

  • Jeff

    How classic that a guy railing A-rod and calling Ryan Dempster a hero for throwing at a defenseless batter has 3 drug users up on his masthead…Two known bigtime PED users…classic!

  • Jonah Falcon

    Hey, Pearlman, if Dempster wanted to take a stand against PEDs, he could have just thrown a baseball at David Ortiz in the locker room.

  • Jonah Falcon

    Better yet, Mr. Perlman – what if you found out RYAN DEMPSTER TAKES PEDs TOO?

    (chuckling evilly)

  • Jonah Falcon

    Here’s a scenario for you – suppose the Yanks are out of it in September, and have Joba Chamberlain trot out and nail David Ortiz on the elbow, removing him from the playoffs with an injury.

    You fine with that, too?

  • Sharkey

    Actually, Dempster was issuing a fuck you to A-Rod for reportedly snubbing him at a private event earlier this year. http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/mlb-big-league-stew/boston-ryan-dempster-hits-alex-rodriguez-fails-vengeance-025623534.html

  • Steve

    Jeff, you lose any value you can potentially provide to the discussion by throwing out the baby with the bathwater. The response to Rodriguez’s actions should most definitely not be “its ok for everyone to torment, including commit violence against, Rodriguez”. You want to get him back? Help gather the evidence that he’s a cheating, lying, money-stealing jerk and punish him according to the stipulations of the CBA and our court of laws. This acceptability of beaning him is grade school level maturity and gets us nowhere.

    And of course, Jeff lists Rodriguez’s paycheck as an issue before he mentions the influence he has on the outcome of games. There’s no jealousy there at all.

    Jeff pretends to be so upset, but what I’m guessing is really the case is that he found that he can be relevant again by trolling this topic. He talks big, but doesn’t respond to anyone, and doesn’t actually do any real research. The more ignorant you are on the topic of PEDs, the worse things you can convince yourself to say about ballplayers. Clicks, clicks, clicks, and we’re giving them to Jeff.

  • Jonah Falcon

    I’d just rather Jeff stand in front of Joe Girardi and/or Alex Rodriguez and explain his position. With the same language.

    Wonder how he’s doing these days with the Bears. Eh? Eh? They still over that little thing he wrote about Walter Payton?

  • Jonah Falcon

    Let’s just say Jeff’s having his own little John Rocker moment.

  • Craig

    Pearlman you’re just another self righteous douchebag
    with a keyboard.

  • Jeff

    Dave: brilliant.

    Perhaps Dempster’s “message” would’ve resonated a little more had Rodriguez not sent it back 446 feet over the center field wall on his way to 3 hits & 2 RBI after the beaning. No use celebrating (or even discussing) a guy who starts a spat & can’t back it up.

  • Howie Kaplin

    I am no apologist for A-roid or the other cheaters. But to hold a pitcher up as a hero because he threw a ball at a batter is almost as low as that pitcher himself. That’s being a coward and I would wager heavily that if this were the National League (real baseball) he would not have the cojones to do it

  • Eric

    Says Jeff Pearlman of jeffpearlman.com, who promotes his website by including an exciting image of “Slugger Barry Bonds” swinging for the fences on the masthead. And uses a pic of Bonds during the heyday of his juicing.

    That pretty much sums it up right there, doesn’t it Jeff? As a sportswriter, you make your money off of the public displays of modern athletes of all sorts. You peddle them all to us fans. Including Alex Rodriguez.

  • Jeff

    You forgot “Fuck you for holding that mirror up to me and exposing my hypocrisy”.

  • Amazing

    Wow. You are celebrating a petty act of violence while still trying to claim the moral high ground. Go to hell.

  • Mister Deez

    Lighten up, bud. It’s just sports.

  • Bob

    Another non-athletic hack stroking a keyboard. I really hope you don’t have any kids that play sports. If he is such a hero, why did he puss out and lie about it, he didn’t even have the balls to say, “yeah, sick of Aroid, so I beaned him.”

    I hope all your hero’s are not cowards and pussys.

  • Bob

    Oh, and it’s coming out the real reason he hit Arod is because Alex didn’t sign an autograph for him at a public event… I can only imagine Alex saying…”Ryan Dempster….. ahhh yeah… you pitch for who?” “Sorry never heard of you. Want me to sign something for your kid?”

  • Some Dude

    The best part of all this is turns out Dempster was miffed that A-Rod dissed him at some public event. It had nothing to do with Jeffy’s little steroid theory at all.

  • Vinnie

    Do you really think it serves anyone to encourage pitchers to throw at and hit batters you don’t like? It’s brave of you to sit up there with laughter and glee. How’d you like to be the one taking a fastball in the ribs?
    Why don’t you focus on the good things in baseball, the great races, the best bunch of young players coming into the game at one time in history, the chase for the AL home run record, or the possibility of a second straight triple crown winner?
    Stop the moralizing and stop thinking that these kinds of stories are even interesting. Stupid? Yes. Disgusting? That too. Come on. You can do much better than this.

  • Gus

    Fuck A-Rod, and fuck all of you who defend him. This over-paid pissant of a 3rd baseman should get drilled EVERY game. If he doesn’t like it, he’s welcome to shut the fuck up and take his suspension like a man. I was a Yankees fan for 30 years until they acquired this jerk. Can’t wait for him to be drilled out of baseball.

  • http://ondeckcircle.wordpress.com William Miller

    Hey Dave, Since you’re getting all intellectual on us today, let me just say, “Fuck you, too.”
    Fuck you for demeaning the game of baseball by cheering on a pitcher who throws at A-Rod, not because of anything that happened on the field last night, but because Dempster somehow believes he has the moral authority to send a message that he believes “speaks for all of us,” or some such nonsense.
    Fuck you for NOT covering this steroid story years ago when it mattered most, rather than jumping on the bandwagon at this late date to score cheap points with hypocritical fans.
    Finally, fuck you for also not having the balls to show the video of A-Rod crushing a 446 foot homer later in the game, a perfect retaliatory moment as you can get in a ballgame.
    To be sure, I’ve never been a fan of A-Rod, and I’ve always hated the Yankees, but after last night, I now actually find myself in the unlikely situation of actually saying, “Way to go, A-Rod!”

  • Will

    And F-*-*-K Y-O-U for thinking we give a s-h-*-t about your opinions other than to point out A-rod took the puss puss Dempster back behind the woodshed and knocked his teeth out with a 430′ B-O-M-B that helped the Yanks win the game and Dempster’s team LOSE the game. Not too mention that Arod scored after being HBP.

    So Thanks Ryan. Little Weaselboy. And thanks Jeff — for reminding us you worship weasels.

  • Matt

    LOL at Ryan Dempster. Hey, didn’t manny use roids? Ortiz?? Why not throw at them! Fucking loser Red Sox fans.

  • Morris B

    Ryan Dempster is the antithesis of funny. His “impressions” are awful. Often painful. Looks like after the beaning, he treated the rest of the game like a big game. Seeing how he got lit up like he has in every big game he’s pitched in his career, and will again come October.

    Hey, but the media loves him!

  • pounder

    Cowardly,and the fans at Fenway were acting very immature.

  • http://chrisross91.wordpress.com Chris Ross

    It was definitely a little curious to see Dempster go after A-Rod. No one had done it yet and I’m actually proud of him for doing so. Maybe it’s because I’m Canadian or maybe it’s because I hate A-Rod, maybe a bit of both. But it is still wrong if the MLB wants to let this go and we will see what they will do. It will be interesting to see how this develops, if the MLB does anything and if the Yankees do anything in the future going into the stretch run.

    http://chrisross91.wordpress.com/2013/08/19/this-needs-to-stop/

  • Lord Fartington

    I don’t see a beanball as a statement for justice or a stand against a player who’s broken the rules.

    I see it as battery.

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  • Newdman McGillicutty

    Lame display last night, and an even lamer essay that makes me feel embarrassed reading it. I have nothing to add to the very poignant comments above.

  • J.P.

    But given the precedent of Strasburg’s last outing (getting tossed for being wild), Dempster should have been run.

  • soup

    Amen Jeff, thank you! Sal was a great baseball guy that was one of the many screwed by the cheaters. Thank you for giving me another reason to despise A-rod and Braun and all of them that have tried to ruin the game with their own self interest and disregard for the sport, fans and fellow players.

  • Vinnie

    It seems so many people take issue with you on this, perhaps you might consider posting all future blogs in Latin.

  • Vinnie

    Since it seems everyone is in disagreement with you on this one, perhaps you might consider writing future blogs in Latin?

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  • Brandon

    This clown has pictures of Clemens and Bonds on the banner of this website, but A-Rod is the Devil? Fuck you. Fuck you and the rest of the media for your selective outrage. Go fuck yourselves, cunts.

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