When the Red Sox and Yankees get together, the games are long – too long – and the drama is high. Last weekend’s showdown at Fenway Park proved to be more of the same, with Alex Rodriguez and the Biogenesis scandal forced to the forefront.
Now that the drama from that series has temporarily been slowed down to a simmer, it feels like the right time to throw out a few quick thoughts on the finale, where Ryan Dempster took aim at Alex Rodriguez – eventually plunking him – sending the Fenway faithful into cheers, and Joe Girardi into a temporary moment of rage and insanity.
Here are seven quick thoughts on the event and the players tied to it:
This event was a long time coming, and if you follow my Twitter account – shameless plug, @kevinspaul), you would know that I’ve been expecting this for weeks, dating back to when A-Rod was playing in the minors. It’s only fitting that the largest retaliation came from a member of the Red Sox.
The crowd’s loud and exuberant reaction is not the story here, nor should it be. Boston has always hated New York, and vice versa, well… since the epic comeback in 2004. At this point, for as many negative headlines that Rodriguez has generated, there should be no shame in booing this guy.
Ryan Dempster went on to say that he wasn’t trying to hit A-Rod. If that’s not a desperate attempt to try and avoid a suspension by Major League Baseball, I don’t know what is. If it were true, it would be sad, considering that it took Dempster four pitches to finally hit A-Rod’s juiced up frame. Dempster should instead embrace the truth, especially considering that he’d be a cult hero in Boston, leaving the Red Sox fans to temporarily forget about the fact that he has a 6-9 record and 4.77 ERA this season.
Pleading the fifth would have helped mend the fan relationship, but as announced today, it doesn’t matter, because Dempster was suspended five games by Major League Baseball anyway. He was suspended with pay, and could still make his next start this weekend. As I added on Twitter:
Dempster still getting paid. Kinda feels like #MLB is saying… Thanks, but hey, we have to do this, no hard feelings?
— Kevin Paul (@kevinspaul) August 20, 2013
After each bench received a warning from the home plate umpire, Joe Girardi blew his top, and if you were close enough, you may have heard him whistling like a tea kettle. But the fact is this: Girardi had a fair argument. You could see him holding up three fingers to the ump, likely indicating just how many times Dempster intentionally threw at Rodriguez. One could argue that Dempster deserved to get tossed right then and there, leaving Boston’s bullpen to get depleted. In the end, it didn’t hurt New York, as the Yankees eventually won the game. It did, however, save the Red Sox for upcoming games.
Sticking with Girardi, consider the following regarding the Yankees manager. New York has been clashing with A-Rod for weeks, jawing back and forth, and causing distraction after distraction. If you combine that with the injuries to players like Teixeira, Granderson, A-Rod and Jeter, one could easily argue that Joe Girardi deserves to be mentioned in the AL Manager of the Year race. Bear in mind, the award will likely go to another manager that makes the playoffs. Still, Girardi at least deserves some votes. After all, the Yankees (64-59) are within reach of a Wild Card berth.
As for Alex Rodriguez, he’s a unique mixture of defiance, guts, attitude and deceit. After getting plunked by Dempster, with the crowd’s cheers likely echoing in his head, A-Rod almost looked as if he was ready to burst into tears. But why should that feeling be any different for him? He’s still the only suspended Biogenesis player to still be on the field. He’s been hearing this from fans for weeks. Yet, here he is, and A-Rod was able to focus enough to hit a clutch home run late in the game.
Don’t for a minute think that this is over. Look no further than a four-game set starting in New York on September 5th, when these two teams face off yet again. Expect Girardi and the Yankees to retaliate against one of Boston’s marquee players – perhaps David Ortiz. While it may come off as defending Rodriguez and his messy story in New York, it will instead be defending a teammate. If Girardi can get that fired up on one occasion, he’ll likely do it a second time, especially in front of the home fans.