Ryan Dempster may not be a shoo-in for Most Popular MLB player after all.
After Dempster drilled Alex Rodriguez with a pitch the first chance he got when the Yankees and Red Sox met at Fenway Park earlier this month, the initial reaction to the plunking — which Dempster said was not intentional — was a round of bravos from fans and the general feeling that plenty of other pitchers would have done the same if given the chance.
But a survey by ESPN The Magazine shows that’s not necessarily the case. ESPN has released results from that survey of MLB players, and out of the 35 who responded to the question of “Do you want to bean Alex Rodriguez?”, zero answered “yes.”
ESPN notes that a few players even said Dempster was out of line, pointing to him taking matters into his own hands as Rodriguez appeals his 211-game suspension from baseball.
“That was just bush league baseball,” one player said, according to ESPN. “Hitting guys is a part of the game, but only when the situation calls for it. That situation didn’t call for it. When you’re throwing 90-mph fastballs at people, you need to take caution with that kind of responsibility.”
The survey also showed Rodriguez is getting some support from members of the MLB players union in his fight against commissioner Bud Selig. Rodriguez has argued that his 211-game suspension is arbitrary and that it unduly targets him as a scapegoat for the game’s larger performance-enhancing drug use problems. Survey responders appeared to agree.
“We collectively bargained for that right, and I would want it myself,” one player said of Rodriguez appealing. “I think in our hearts, many of us have a hard time seeing a good player able to play in a playoff hunt when he did something that will probably end up getting him a suspension. But it is his right, and that should be support.”
Of those surveyed, 43.6 percent said they would side with Rodriguez if the suspension were put to a vote with the players.
“It’s hard to take Bud seriously at this point,” a player said, according to ESPN. “I think A-Rod is a cheater, but come on. You can’t blame him for all the sins of the past.”
Rodriguez did get some flak from his comrades — 20 percent agreed with his 211-game suspension, and 16 percent want him banned for life. Given a choice between having Rodriguez or the suspended Ryan Braun as a teammate, 29 percent said neither, and Braun took the head-to-head 42 percent to 29 percent.
One player, identified as a “perennial All-Star pitcher,” also echoed what some saw as laughable comments made by Rodriguez during the Yankees-Red Sox series, when Rodriguez insisted his fellow union members would stick up for him.
“I would hope a big percentage of players would side with A-Rod,” he said. “We’re family. We all fight together for one cause and, like it or not, with what he did, there’s a basic agreement. You start giving into stuff like that, and we become weaker.”
That’s one reason to stick with Rodriguez — to keep MLB from cutting the head off the snake.
Aw! Tim’s so happy he didn’t get cut.
This guy is back on the television.
Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) August 27, 2013
Hump Day! Well, kind of.