Ryan Dempster was suspended five games Tuesday for hitting Alex Rodriguez with a pitch, even though most fans cheered the pitcher's decision.
Nothing but controversy has surrounded Rodriguez since he was suspended by Major League Baseball for the use of performance-enhancing drugs, among other transgressions related to that use. Plenty of players have since voiced their displeasure with PED users, calling them cheaters, but Dempster, who's in his first year with the Red Sox after he pitched for nine seasons with the Cubs, took things to another level. Sunday, when the Red Sox played the Yankees, he hit Rodriguez in the slugger's first at-bat. Even after being warned, Dempster wasn't ejected, but now he's been suspended.
Some have taken the plunking as a message that some players don't believe Rodriguez should be allowed to play while appealing his suspension. Others feel the anger over his cheating led to the incident. SportsTalk Live host David Kaplan said this type of "vigilante street justice" shouldn't be allowed and even brought up a report that Dempster could have been going after Rodriguez for reasons unrelated to the latter's PED use.
The SportsTalk Live panel discussed the suspension Tuesday, and the opinions varied.
"What bothers me about this is, wasn't Dempster a players' rep? Isn't he a club house leader? Hasn't he been around the game forever? We're talking about players policing the game themselves and speaking up for the game," Chicago Sun-Times reporter Adam Jahns said. "Where was that before the beaning of A-Rod?"
[CSNNE: Dempster fined, suspended five games]
Other members of the panel were more sympathetic with Dempster, going as far to say that Rodriguez got what he deserved.
"I think for a lot of people, Kap, A-Rod gets what he deserves," ESPNChicago.com reporter Nick Friedell said. "No, you can't go throw at his head, and you can't plunk him every time he comes up. But this guy has disgraced baseball, and instead of just taking whatever punishment he was given, he's dragged the game through the mud. ... A-Rod, every day, every time he's in the lineup, it's a constant reminder that this game that everybody grew up loving is dirty right now."