Of Mice and Men

Sunday night I found myself cheering as Alex Rodriguez stomped on home plate after he smashed a homer off Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster. Now Rodriguez is hardly an example of what a man should be. Incredible athlete yes, but his ethics end when they get in his way and that’s not how a real man acts. That said, Sunday night’s game said something about manliness that must be noted.

In the second inning Dempster threw behind Rodriguez. Dempster then went inside on two pitches before drilling Rodriguez with a 92 mph fastball.

Home-plate umpire Brian O’Nora didn’t warn Dempster during the first three attempts to hit Rodriguez. Then when Dempster did hit Rodriguez, O’Nora didn’t toss Dempster. He just warned both benches—as if the Yankees deserved a warning.

Yankee Manager Joe Girardi got right in O’Nora’s face and was thrown from the game. Love, hate or tolerate Rodriguez, Girardi was standing up for his player and for what is right—that’s manly stuff. Girardi later said, “You can’t start throwing at people. Lives are changed by getting hit by pitches. Whether I agree with everything that’s going on, you do not throw at people and you don’t take the law into your own hands. You don’t do that. We’re going to skip the judicial system? It’s ‘My Cousin Vinny.'”

Even worse, when an umpire tolerates a player who intentionally hits another player the game falls apart. The umpire is the cop on the scene, the rule enforcer. When he decides to overlook such an obvious infraction he becomes complicit and the game becomes a farce.

Rodriguez’s home run exacted revenge and sparked a four-run sixth inning that lead the Yankees to a 9-6 victory. Rodriguez later said, “Whether you like me or hate me, that was wrong. It was unprofessional and silly.” Rodriguez is right about that much.

Dempster lied and said he’d been trying to throw inside to Rodriguez, a falsity that was supported by Red Sox manager John Farrell. By obviously lying both showed themselves to poor examples of men. They’d of been better off keeping their mouths shut—stoicism is often manly.

The only one who came out as a man was Girardi. Rodriguez became a sympathetic character for a moment—not an easy thing to accomplish—and Dempster lost the game and his machismo, saying, “I’m more disappointed in the fact that I couldn’t hold a 6-3 lead. That’s the bigger story.” No Dempster, that you behaved like a child and weren’t tossed for it is the story. That Rodriguez made you pay simply evened the score.