Dempster, A-Rod, and Shaughnessy

I watched this game of August 18th last year. I was with my kids. It was tough to watch. Ryan Dempster was throwing at Alex Rodriguez’s head. The game was in Boston, so the fans were rather supportive of this. The broadcasters scrambled to set the context – A-Rod was in the midst of the Biogenesis investigation, and Dempster appeared to be dishing out some sort of frontier justice for A-Rod’s transgressions – as a PED user, and a man intent on defending himself, even if it meant pointing fingers at other players. A-Rod was once again rubbing people the wrong way.

Three days later, sports opinion-writer Dan Shaughnessy wrote “Dempster Deserved to Be Suspended.” Dempster was throwing at A-Rod’s head, after all. But the gist of Shaughnessy’s article was also that A-Rod deserved to be thrown at:

…Dempster was sending some sort of message…John Lackey and Jonny Gomes had gone public with their objections over Rodriguez being allowed to play while appealing his suspension. It happened on the night of the “60 Minutes” bombshell that A-Rod had ratted out other players (including one teammate) when the walls started to close around him in the Biogenesis scandal.

To Shaughnessy the story was obvious: A-Rod was a rat and a PED-using cheater, so Dempster was throwing at him to send a message.

Except the day after the Dempster/A-Rod confrontation, Wayne Scanlan, a sports journalist for the Canadian National Post since 1987, had tweeted:

Met Ryan Dempster in Detroit. Said he had an issue with A-Rod and would drill him first chance he got. Man of his word.

A-Rod snubbed Dempster at a public event. Dempster was not impressed.
— Wayne Scanlan (@HockeyScanner) August 19, 2013

So, uh, this this puts a different spin on it, right?

Shaughnessy didn’t think so.

There was even a third theory — a Junior High School theory — that A-Rod had once snubbed Dempster at a social or charity event.
Not true, Dempster claimed Tuesday afternoon …

Sure, Dempster denied it after the fact. He was trying to avoid an even bigger suspension/fine. It makes sense that Dempster would deny – once he was facing discipline from MLB – that he’d been thinking about throwing at A-Rod since Rodriguez irritated him at some social event earlier in the year.

But Scanlan is a reputable journalist, and we have no reason to believe that Scanlan misreported Dempster’s direct quotes.

Shaughnessy was the one with something at stake here. Baseball sports-opinion journalists have extended their careers, and covered-up for their out-moded skill set, by inflating outrage around PEDs. Of course, Shaughnessy interpreted the Dempster/A-Rod event through the lens of PEDs (as did the announcers during the game). Shaughnessy and his ilk have a vested interest in suggesting that everything that happens in baseball is related to the artifical PEDs hysteria they worked so hard to create. But in this case, it looks like these Dempster and A-Rod just didn’t like each other.

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