Since coming back to the Yankees on August 5th after recovering from hip surgery, Alex Rodriguez has played in 12 games and had 47 official at-bats. He has also been hit by a pitch twice. One of those came in his second game back against the White Sox, when Chicago ace Chris Sale threw a slider that got away from him and grazed A-Rod. Didn’t seem like anything intentional. HOWEVER, everyone knew the intentions of Red Sox starter Ryan Dempster on Sunday night when he drilled Alex in the top of the 2nd inning. Dempster said postgame he wasn’t trying to hit him, and that he was just pitching him inside. I mean, obviously he’s going to say that. Pitchers always say that when there’s a clear beanball situation. What guy is saying to the press, "Oh yeah man I was definitely aiming right at him on purpose!" Nobody. But let’s delve into the Dumpster (Uh, I mean, Dempster) pitch sequence against Rodriguez. Pitch 1: 89 mph fastball BEHIND A-Rod. Pitch 2: 92 mph waist-high fastball that tailed deep inside. Pitch 3 was about the same. And pitch number 4 was the dagger, nailing A-Rod in the back of the left arm.
What happens next? Joe Girardi comes flying out of the dugout like a rabid wolverine, Gronk-spikes his hat onto the Fenway grass and proceeds to give home plate umpire Brian O’Nora what I like to call "the business," nearly giving him a Mike Tyson-esque right hook in the process. Girardi wasn’t actually trying to punch O’Nora, but in slow motion GIF form his flailing arm gesture looks like an attempt at a knockout. He also had some choice words for Mr. Dempster, which I shall not repeat on here. To no one’s surprise, Joe gets ejected. Brett Gardner also ran out of the dugout to do some shouting in A-Rod’s defense, but he stayed in the game and came to his teammate’s aid in a different way later in the game when he ripped a triple with the bases loaded to put the Bombers ahead for good. Alex also got ultimate revenge on Dempster in the 6th inning when he absolutely UNLOADED on a 1-0 pitch, depositing it into the center field seats for the longest Yankees home run of the season. 446 feet to be exact. Whatever your opinions of Rodriguez might be, as a Yanks fan that payback was awesome. I know I certainly gave a hearty fist pump. And it was definitely one of the most emotional regular season wins in recent memory; I’m still hyped just writing about it.
Looking back at the game, the big question(s) is "Should A-Rod have been plunked?/Did Dempster have the right to hit him?" We all know retaliation in baseball comes in the form of a pitcher throwing at the batter. It’s part of baseball and probably will continue to be. But this was a whole different situation. Neither the New York Yankees nor Alex Rodriguez did anything to personally victimize Ryan Dempster or any of the Sox players (at least nothing I’m aware of). Because of A-Rod’s involvement with Biogenesis, Dempster created his own internal vendetta against him. Which is a perfectly reasonable thing to have, and I’m sure numerous other players feel the same way. Personally it disappoints me too, because although I am a Yankees fan, I am a fan of the game as well. I can’t imagine very many fans would ever condone cheating, and it is refreshing to see players have success while also doing it the right way. Honestly it would not surprise me to see Alex drilled a few more times this season.
But does it make it acceptable for Ryan Dempster, or any other pitchers for that matter, to throw at him. Obviously the Red Sox faithful were delighted by it, but I’m going to be parental here and say two wrongs don’t make a right.
Joe Girardi stated that he hopes the MLB will take action with this, and said after the game, "You don’t allow people just to be thrown at because you don’t like them or you disagree with someone. You can’t do that."
I’m right with ya, Joe. It was unprofessional and immature. If Dempster really wanted to give A-Rod a piece of his mind, he should have tried to strike him out. Not sure if he knows this, but a strikeout is better than putting a runner on base. A-Rod scored a run that inning, by the way. I’m not defending A-Rod’s actions off the diamond, but a lot of us would have done the same thing that Girardi and Gardner did, which was supporting a teammate. That’s what teammates do. When Alex bashed the homer in the 6th and came back to the dugout, all his teammates were high fiving him. And not just little wimpy high fives either. Big, emphatic ones. They knew it was a big moment, and they were pumped for their teammate.
Now with a big series win on the road against Boston, can the Yanks use this "mess with one of us, you mess with all of us" rallying cry as a catapult for a late season run? In one of the weirdest twists of fate ever, that run could be centered around none other than Alex Rodriguez (as if he isn’t centered around enough things). Thanks for the motivation, Dempster.