Things got a little violent in tonight’s very special episode of Everybody Hates Alex Rodriguez. A few days ago, Red Sox starting pitcher John Lackey said he had a problem with A-Rod playing for the Yankees while his 211-game suspension for taking performance-enhancing drugs is under appeal, adding that it’s a topic of much discussion among the Boston players. On Sunday night, Lackey’s teammate Ryan Dempster seemed to take a vigilante approach to getting A-Rod off the field.
When Rodriguez stepped to the plate in the second inning, Dempster threw his first pitch behind the batter’s legs, drawing raucous cheers from the Fenway Park crowd. After two more pitches that were just a bit inside—and with the crowd rhythmically chanting “You’re a cheater”—Dempster hit A-Rod in the left elbow with his 3-0 pitch, to the great delight of the Red Sox faithful.
Home plate umpire Brian O’Nora did not toss Dempster from the game, instead pointing showily to the pitcher and both dugouts to indicate that everyone was being warned—that any future shenanigans from either team would not be tolerated. This enraged Yankees manager Joe Girardi, because the Yankees had done absolutely nothing except send Rodriguez to the plate (which, honestly, they’d have preferred not to do if they had any choice). In the end, Girardi was the one who got ejected from the game after a classic yelling-at-the-ump-two-inches-from-his-face hissy fit. And the Fenway crowd predictably started chanting, “Yankees suck! Yankees suck!”
Why does everyone in Major League Baseball hate A-Rod? According to a 60 Minutes report, Rodriguez’s camp leaked documents implicating his own teammate Francisco Cervelli as well as former MVP Ryan Braun in the Biogenesis scandal. Then came the claim from A-Rod’s new lawyer Joe Tacopina that the Yankees and commissioner Bud Selig are in cahoots to keep the slugger off the field, and that Yankees president Randy Levine told A-Rod’s surgeon, “I don’t ever want to see him on the field again.” The Yankees vigorously deny those claims, and have called on A-Rod to produce his medical records. “Alex should put up or shut up,” Levine told ESPNNewYork.com on Saturday. And on Sunday, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said he’s "not comfortable talking to Alex about this because we feel we are in a litigious environment."
In an in-game interview with ESPN’s Buster Olney, Red Sox manager John Farrell explained that Dempster “was trying to establish his fastball in to Rodriguez" and that "we didn't feel in our dugout that was anything intentional." Uh huh. If the dugout Q-and-A session went on any longer, Farrell seemed likely to tell Olney that up is down, the moon is made of green cheese, and Santa Claus is playing right field for the Sox.
In the third inning, in his second at-bat of the game, Rodriguez grounded out to shortstop against Dempster, driving in a run. And in the sixth, A-Rod led off by driving a home run to deep center. After a slow trot around the bases, he clapped his hands and raised two fingers as he crossed home plate. Will the Red Sox now decide to hit him again? Will the Yankees “[send] a message back” in retaliation for Boston's earlier, unprovoked attack, as ESPN announcers John Kruk and Curt Schilling suggested they should? Stay tuned.
This post has been updated with the latest information.
Update, Aug. 19, 2013: The headline of this post originally used the word bean, which most often refers to a player getting hit in the head with a baseball. Alex Rodriguez was hit in the elbow.