The transition Chicago Cubs right-hander Ryan Dempster made from closer to starter not only landed him in the All-Star Game, but also helped put his team on the verge of its second consecutive division championship and at the doorstep of the postseason.
Much of Dempster's success is owed not only to a work-ethic first exercised as a newspaper delivery boy in hockey-loony Gibsons, British Columbia, but also to his major league sense of humor and kind heart. Dempster is not only devoted to Harry Caray and former Saturday Night Live star Chris Farley, but also to pretty much any dog he meets on the street while biking around his neighborhood on the North Side of Chicago.
Q: The Blackhawks and Red Wings play at Wrigley next January. Which team will better handle skating over the pitcher's mound?
Ryan Dempster: That's a good question. I think the Blackhawks have a little bit of an advantage because they've had more players throw out an opening pitch. All the Red Wings have is Chris Chelios. He's got a lot of experience so he's going to have to help his teammates out.
Q: Can you believe that guy's still playing? He's 57 years old.
RD: I think he's 73. Still looks like a 25-year-old.
Q: They say it will be the hottest regular-season ticket in Chicago sports history. What would you pay to see it?
RD: I'd pay $1,000 dollars. Good, round number.
RD: No. A thousand Euro.
Q: When you're named World Series MVP this October, will you first thank the wife and kid or all the guys down at work?
RD: I'll probably thank Jack Whalen at Starbucks. He makes a mean latte in the morning. It's awesome.
Q: At the corner of?
RD: At the corner of Roscoe and Southport.
Q: Why do you love dogs so much?
RD: They're truly man's best friend. You could ignore a dog for an entire day and the minute you come walking through the door, they're wagging their tail, like, "Hey, dad! Hey dad! Hey, dad! Hang out with me!" They're always there for you. They're awesome. They don't care if you blow a save or have a bad game. They're more worried about when they're going to get their next bone.
Q: How many you got?
RD: Three. Three labs. Two black, one yellow. Teddy, Farley and Wrigley. Two from a breeder and one was rescued.
Q: What should I do about my loving, but sometimes uncontrollable Miniature Pinscher?
RD: You could always get a cool, like, wheel for it to run on. Like for a hamster, but a bigger one.
Q: Did you bawl your eyes during "My Dog Skip"?
RD: No. Sad, though. Didn't quite cry, but came close.
Q: Why can't you throw a no-hitter like Carlos Zambrano?
RD: Because I'm just not that good.
Q: What about British Columbia for a destination wedding site?
RD: Go in July or August.
Q: Why then?
RD: Because it rains the rest of the time.
Q: The newspaper business is in crisis. You used to deliver newspapers. Got any bright ideas to save it?
RD: Bring back the kids on bikes that deliver newspapers. Now it's all done by car and nobody has a satchel by their side. You sit there and throw a newspaper in eveyone's mail box and every two weeks go around and collect money from people.
Q: Were you an accurate tosser?
RD: I was more of a lift, clean and place guy. That was my specialty. I liked to make sure that people didn't have to go far for their newspaper. I wasn't lazy.
Q: Why don't you players buy the Cubs, like with United Airlines?
RD: I'm actually coming up with a plan. I figure three more weeks allowance and I'll have just about enough.
Q: How much break could you get on your splitter if you wore huge Harry Caray glasses?
RD: At least three or four more inches. But it's not worth it because I couldn't keep them on my face.
Q: How many diamonds do you want in your World Series ring?
RD: I'm not a big diamond guy. I just want a big, humongous, big, giant, "C." That's all I'm looking for. A big, huge, ruby.
Q: A "C" for Canada?
RD: For "Cubs."
Q: Remember last year when Lou put you in the rotation for about 20 minutes and then took you out? Was that the whole beginning of your re-transformation into starter?
RD: Yeah. It was amazing as a starter last year how unhittable I was.
Q: How often do you ride your bike to work?
RD: Probably two days a week. The other five, it rides me to work.
Q: Why don't you bike riders stop at stop signs?
RD: I actually wonder the same thing about people in cars in Chicago.
Q: How often have Lou and Sinatro run you over in their car?
RD: Well, there's the eight times in spring training. And then there's four times last year and three times this year, so that's ... seven.
Q: Why don't you have a tattoo of Chris Farley?
RD: Not yet. I'm saving that revelation until later.
Q: Which character would it be?
RD: Matt Foley, motivational speaker. The guy who lives in a van down by the river.
Q: How much of the Rich Harden acquisition was Hendry adding a power arm and how much of it was the Cubs getting another Canadian so you'd have someone from the Motherland on the team?
RD: I'd say it'd be about 20-80. Eighty being he wanted to get another Canadian. Any time you can add a Canadian to your team, you've strengthened it. I heard they're trying to get Bill Murray, a big Cubs fan, to talk to Mike Myers about signing with us.
Q: Should Canada, the U.S. and Mexico combine economic forces so we'd have, like, our own Euro?
RD: Yeah, but give me plenty of notice so I can buy a lot more Canadian dollars.
Q: Before they go out of style?
RD: I don't think they'll ever go out of style. I mean, Monopoly hasn't.
RD: We could have a bill of George Washington arm wrestling John Macdonald.
Q: But that never happened.
RD: Doesn't matter.
Q: What about Wayne Gretzky? Guy born in Canada, later came to the U.S.
RD: Perfect. And then on the $2 bill, you could put Janet Jones.
Q: John Candy.
RD: He'd be on the $10.
Q: Brett Hull.
RD: He'd be on the $20.
Q: Neil Young.
RD: The $100, definitely.
Q: Michael J. Fox.
RD: The $7-1/2 bill.
Q: What about Roy Halladay on the $32 bill?
RD: He deserves it. You put up those kinds of numbers, you deserve your own $32 bill.
Q: What would you give me for an '04 Saturn VUE with 105,000k miles on it? New battery, new left axle.
Q: Deal. Am I falling too hard for the E-surance Girl?
RD: She's a lot better-looking than the Geico Guy.
Q: How much of your fabulous season, the reasons for it happening, is to win the Tip O'Neill Award for best Canadian ballplayer?
RD: When I was running the hills at Red Rock's Amphitheatre this past winter, that was 100 percent of my motivation. I won it one time, in 2000, and I want it back.
Q: When the World Series champion Cubs go to the White House to be congratulated by President Obama, will you guys forgive him for saying he's a die-hard White Sox fan?
RD: No. But the first thing I'm going to do is, tell him I have to pee.
Previous Answer Men:
• Hunter Pence - April 10 • Justin Morneau - April 17 • David Wright - April 24 • Erin Andrews - April 25 • Andy Van Slyke - May 1 • Derek Jeter - May 8 • Bob Uecker - May 15 • Bert Blyleven - May 22 • Torii Hunter - May 29 • Joba Chamberlain - June 3 • Larry Bowa - June 13 • Zack Greinke - June 20 • Kerry Wood - June 26 • Huston Street - July 10 • Josh Hamilton - July 15 • Milton Bradley - July 24 • CC Sabathia - July 31 • Mike Mussina - Aug. 7 • Jason Bay - Aug. 14 • Cole Hamels - Aug. 22 • Ron Santo - Aug. 28 • Francisco Rodriguez - Sept. 11