Because sometimes I get the itch to write and break things down, but don’t feel like writing 500-1,000 words, I’m compelled to do something like this for SIU events. I feel as if 1,000 words seems wasteful for a team that got pantsed the way the Salukis did, especially considering it came against Eastern Illinois, a team that went 2-9 in 2011 and is 17-29 since 2008.
Pardon the dust. Or is that rust? Either way. Sorry, but it’s been a while since I’ve done any long-form writing of any significance.
Remember when I used to write every day? On different platforms? At all hours of the day and night? Those were good days. But with the job keeping me busy and Twitter giving me a platform to condense my thoughts into 140 character snippets, I really haven’t gotten a chance to sit down and put a string of coherent thoughts together and share them with friends, family, followers and others.
Today, I figured, would be a good day for that.
Somehow, the Cubs survived being held hostage by Ryan Dempster. And for that, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer deserve some sort of recognition from baseball writers when executive of the year voting comes around.
Dempster has always been a polarizing figure in my world. There was the good (the 2008 regular season), the bad (the horrific impressions of Will Ferrell’s impersonation of Harry Caray) and the ugly (Game 1 of the 2008 NLDS). And I was ready to put the bad and the ugly in the rear-view mirror had the Cubs been able to cash in on Dempster’s strong start to the season.
But in total Cubs fashion, it ended up reminding me of the bad and the ugly.
Dempster returned to being a polarizing figure on July 23 when the Cubs and Braves seemingly had worked out a deal to send Dempster to Atlanta in exchange for Randall Delgado.
Delgado, a right-hander with tremendous upside, was considered a steal for the Cubs. At age 22, he was talented, affordable and — without the pressure of a pennant race beckoning on him — about to go to a team that was going to allow him ample time to grow into his own.
Instead, Dempster trolled Cubdom by flexing his 10-5 muscle and handing down a veto of the trade. Naturally, that set Cubs fans into two different camps. Of course, there could only be one correct side. Mine.
I’d like to make things very clear for just a moment.
Ryan Dempster led Cubs management to believe he would accept a trade to one of two teams — the Braves or Dodgers. Knowing this, the Cubs went out and negotiated a deal in good faith keeping Dempster’s interests in mind. Unfortunately, what TheoJed didn’t know is that Dempster only had his eyes set on joining one team — the Dodgers.
“All Dempster wanted to do was play with his friend (Ted Lilly). What’s so wrong about that?” they said.
“Nothing is wrong with that … when you’re 7-years-old,” I quipped.
Let’s use some common sense here. There is no way the Cubs and Braves go that deep without getting Dempster to approve a deal in the first place. We’re talking about Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, front office types who are at the forefront of a new age of general managers. This isn’t Andy MacPhail we’re talking about.
So, when you say “You can’t be mad at Dempster because he’s earned his 10-5 rights.” I respond, “You bet I can.” And here’s why. Let’s fast forward to July 25 when Dempster is upset at Dale Sveum’s decision to pull him early.
“I’m fine. I’m allowed to be upset. I respect (Sveum) a lot. That’s his decision. It doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it. He’s just trying to do what’s best for the ballclub. Just the competitor in me wants to keep trying to pitch.”
What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, right?
Dempster invoked his no trade power and I didn’t have to be happy about it.
I think Lou Uhler put it best when he made the following analogy: “If you have a girlfriend, and your girlfriend breaks up with you, she has that right, but according to some, you should harbor no ill will.”
Fast forward to July 31 and the Cubs finally strike a deal to ship Dempster out of town. Both sides had to give a little, but it works out for all parties in the end.
The Cubs won’t get their guy in Randall Delgado, or their back-up choice in Dodgers up-and-coming pitching prospect Allen Webster. But they will get a guy who clowned Carlos Zambrano for being childish despite his own outbursts against watercolors and authority figures, out of the clubhouse for good.
Plus, the Cubs also received two warm bodies from the Rangers, one of which can field the third base position and hit the ball once in a while. He won’t be up for a few years, giving Josh Vitters ample time to get his act together and turn into a decent ball player.
And if that wasn’t enough, Cubs fans will likely get the last laugh on Troll Dempster.
Because lurking out west is this Albert Pujols fellow who plays on the Rangers’ biggest competition in the hunt for the AL Pennant.
Despite a slow start, Mr. Pujols is having quite the year. And judging by the .327/.433/.782/1.215 career line in 67 plate appearances against Dempster, I’m sure Mr. Pujols is glad to see Dempster take his talents to Arlington.
Have fun with that, Demp. And good riddance.