Our good friend at Big League Stew, Kevin Kaduk, thinks it’s funny that I loathe Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster so much. Â And I can see why. Â Dempster’s been a Cub since 2004 and there have been much bigger louts and disappointments to root against in that time. Â Hell, right field has been an absolute shitstorm, and I spent much of that time mocking Jock Jones, Jeromy Burnitz, Milton Bradley, Kosuke and the rest of the clown college.
My detest of Dempster stems from two very real places:
a) His big game pants shitting on the mound
2) His constant, unrelenting, Vaudeville act.
We get it, you think you’re funny. Â You can make sportswriters laugh. Â Try not to tear your labrum again patting yourself on the back. Â Or you know what? Â Do.
This should be his last year with the Cubs. Â He’s old now, he’s expensive, and his on field performance has been in a steady nose-dive since the end of the 2008 regular season. Â His contract is up, and he should have some semblance of trade value, even though as a 10-5 guy he can (and it’d be just like him to) block any.
So what’s got me all fired up about Dempster today?
CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney wrote about a Dempster appearance on MLB Network radio yesterday. Â It was typical, Dempster pablum. Â He made some unclever funnies and he oozed about how great it is to play for the Cubs. Â But what irked me was this passage:
As you get older and you get near the end of contracts, you kind of wonder. But at the same time, when I signed on with the Cubs my first time, I was hurt and I had a chance (to) sit there on the bench and kind of watch it all play out in 2004. (Iâ€™ve) had a couple different opportunities to sign back and Iâ€™ve always thought I want to be here and win.â€
Two things about this:
1) Did he just pretend that he didn’t play a major role in the Cubs final week collapse in 2004? Â It certainly seems like he did that.
b) They’ve had chances to win since he’s been there. Â 2004 was one and he helped screw that up, 2008 was the best chance and he shot that one in the head in the first game of the playoffs.
So let’s look back at 2004 when Dempster “had a chance to sit there on the bench and kind of watch it all play out.”
Let’s all harken back to September 25, 2004. Â The Cubs were in New York playing the lowly Mets and had a 1.5 game Wild Card lead over the Giants and two games over the Astros with eight games to go.
They had a 3-0 lead in the ninth. Â LaTroy Hawkins (guh) was the closer by that point in the season, and he’d pitched in five of the last six games, so with a three run lead and the murderer’s row of Todd Zeile, Eric Valent and Jason Phillips coming up, Dusty Baker figured he could get three outs from Dempster before three runs scored.
He was wrong.
Dempster struck out Zeile. Â Hey, nice start. Â It’s all downhill from here.
Then he walked Valent on FIVE pitches. Â Eric Fucking Valent. Â Career on base average… .307
Then he walked Jason Phillips on SIX pitches. Â Jason Phillips. Â The asshole who wore swim goggles when he played. Â Career on base average … .314.
So out went Dempster, and in came LaTroy, on 13 hours rest. Â For his sixth appearance in seven days (typical Dusty).
He got Jeff Keppinger to fly out to Sammy. Â And then you all remember Victor Fucking Diaz. Â Three run homer. Â Game tied. Â Sosa hit into a double play in the top of the tenth, Michael Barrett was stranded on second in the 11th by Neifi Perez (what a band of assholes), and after Mike Wuertz pitched a perfect 10th (in a double switch that took Sosa out of the game…in his last good Major League season), Wuertz inexplicably was replaced in the 11th by Kent Mercker. Â Mercker gave up a 1-2 walkoff homer to whoever Craig Brazell was to end the game.
The Cubs lost six of their next seven and missed the playoffs. Â Of course they did.
But Dempster didn’t have anything to do with that. Â I mean really, who could be expected to throw strikes to superstars like Eric Valent and Jason Phillips?
As for 2008?
Here’s all you need to know:
4.2 inning pitched, 57 strikes, 52 balls, 14 called strikes, 7 walks, four earned runs allowed.
Way to set the tone for the series, ace.
â€œIâ€™ve never quit anything in my life and I donâ€™t want to quit it now,â€ Dempster said. â€œI want to be there when weâ€™re winning and weâ€™re winning on a consistent basis and â€“ most importantly â€“ when weâ€™re winning a World Series. If that means youâ€™re fighting through some tough times, sometimes that makes it more gratifying in the end.”
It’s admirable that you haven’t quit anything. Â Please start with this. Â Just go away. Â Go pitch for the Cardinals or the White Sox. Â Please. Â We won’t hold it against you. Â In fact, we’ll help you pack.
What box do you want us to put your gag Harry Caray glasses and feather boas in? Â You know what, I’ll just put them in the big box here next to your Billy The Talking Bass.