A pennant race interfering with the current PED hysteria in Major League Baseball has made for some strange bedfellows.
In the wake of Ryan Dempster intentionally hitting Alex Rodriguez with a pitch Sunday night in a loss to the New York Yankees, Dempster's most prominent teammate on the Boston Red Sox offered this bit of common sense — albeit after the fact — in USA Today: You don't wake up a monster when you don't have to:
"I didn't like it. I don't think it was the right thing to do,'' Ortiz told USA TODAY Sports. "But we don't all think alike, and the guy who did it, Dempster, is a great guy. It's not that I didn't think it was right because Alex and I are friends, because once you cross the white lines, everyone's on their own.
"But we've got Tampa right on our heels, and that pitch woke up a monster in the Yankees' team at that moment. You saw how the game ended up. CC (Sabathia) was throwing 91 (mph) and started throwing 96. Alex later hit one way out there. You're talking about a good team that you can't wake up. But we learn from our mistakes.''
Not only that, but Big Papi probably would take issue with another Red Sox teammate, John Lackey, spouting off about how A-Rod shouldn't be allowed to play as he appeals his 211-game suspension for Biogenesis. Keeping quiet and just playing ball should always be preferable.
So, the politics of a PED witch hunt (not to mention any other personal baloney among individual players, as reportedly happened between Dempster and A-Rod) should come secondary to playing baseball? What an intriguing concept!
A-Rod appears to be going along with it, reportedly telling lawyers defending him from MLB (and even the Yankees front office) to chill until the season is over. His case won't be heard until the offseason anyway.
It's too late now, anyway. The Yankees have united behind A-Rod, not against him (whooda thunkit?) and are in position to play their best ball of the season down the stretch, with the playoffs still within their grasp. And otherwise terrific season by the Red Sox, where off-the-field bull roar hadn't mattered like it did other years, suddenly does matter. It's almost like they fell into a trap set by A-Rod himself. He's not that diabolical, is?