The New York Yankees - Boston Red Sox game last night could have been simply played like a normal baseball game between the longtime rivals. The fans would have booed Alex Rodriguez unmercifully, which isn't any different than any other time A-Rod played in Boston, and a winner would emerge after the usual four hour contest.
Except that Red Sox starting pitcher Ryan Dempster decided to make the moment and the game his own personal statement against A-Rod. In the end, the Yankees got payback at Dempster's actions and won the game, but home plate umpire Brian O'Nora handled things poorly and Yankees manager Joe Girardi was ejected as a result.
The best result of the night for the Yankees was the final score - Yankees 9 Red Sox 6. It was the third straight series win for the Pinstripes, who have won 7 of 10 since they were swept in a three game series with the Chicago White Sox.
The 2nd inning set the tone for the night when A-Rod stepped to the plate for the first time. Dempster, a onetime player rep who helped decide how PED suspensions and appeals would be handled, threw his first pitch behind A-Rod legs. The next two pitches missed their target - A-Rod, not the plate - and were inside and tight. Finally, Dempster's 3-0 delivery hit A-Rod in the back below his armpit.
That's when O'Nora made a mess of the entire situation. Instead of tossing Dempster for the obvious intent of the entire at-bat, he warned both benches. Girardi shot out of the dugout faster than he's run since he legged out that famous triple in Game 6 of the 1996 World Series.
Every vein in Girardi’s neck and head looked ready to burst as he screamed at O'Nora for his actions, or more precisely, inaction. O'Nora ejected him, but not before Girardi called Dempster another word for a cat.
A-Rod stood quietly alongside first base coach Mick Kelleher as both benches emptied, but no altercations took place. Girardi was still furious after the game ended. He told the YES Network:
"Ryan Dempster has hit six guys in his last 320 innings. He throws the first pitch behind him, intentional. He threw the next one inside, he didn't hit him...intentional. At some point Brian O'Nora has to give him a warning and he should have thrown him out of the game. It's the bottom line.
Everyone knows it was intentional and I don't know understand why he's left in the game, and then to give us a warning...You know Brian and I have a long history together. Back in 'A' ball, Double-A, and I respect him, but that was wrong.
You know the one thing you can't do is start changing the system, because maybe you don't like it. Ryan Dempster has been a player rep and he's been very involved in the union, and he knows this is what they decided to do. So you can't change it and take your potshots, and you'd have to have your head in the sand with the comments coming from the other side not to know that something might be happen.
So, I thought it was handled very poorly and I was upset about yesterday, because calls went against us that changed the complexion of the game. Then you have this...it's just flat wrong."
The complete interview:
Jerry Seinfeld once said the best revenge was "living well." In baseball, it's hitting a home run and knocking the pitcher out of the game. Down 6-3 in the 6th, A-Rod crushed a Dempster delivery into the centerfield stands. As he rounded first, A-Rod loudly clapped his hands and pointed both arms skyward when he reached home plate.
The blast fired up his teammates, who then took control of the game. Eduardo Nunez and Lyle Overbay reached on one-out singles and Dempster was pulled after he walked light hitting Chris Stewart to load the bases. Drake Britton came on and Brett Gardner introduced himself by ripping a ball to the deepest part of right-center field. Pinch-runner Jayson Nix, Overbay, and Stewart all crossed home plate as Gardner raced to third with a triple that gave the Yankees a 7-6 lead.
Mark Reynolds and Stewart added tack on RBI singles and Mariano Rivera got out of a two-out, two-on jam in the 9th when he got Jarrod Saltalamacchia to line out to left.
A-Rod was obviously upset after the game when YES asked him, "Joe said that should have been handled differently. The first pitch behind you should have been a warning and when you got hit he should have been tossed. Do you feel the same way?"
"Yeah I agree. That was..whether you like me or hate me, what's wrong is wrong and that was unprofessional and silly. And kind of a silly way to get someone on your team hurt as well.
YES: "Considering how many players have spoken out about you playing during your suspension, are you concerned about this at all moving forward?"
"I'm not at all. You know we um, that today brought us together. Joe's reaction was amazing. Every one of my teammates said "hit a bomb and walk it off. They were more...as pissed as I was. That's just not right."
There was a light moment when a reporter asked if Dempster should be suspended. A-Rod and the media laughed when he responded, "You're the asking the wrong guy about a suspension. I got an attorney I can recommend."
The complete interview:
And so it will continue to go.