It's like Carlos Zambrano never left. Chicago Cubs right-hander Ryan Dempster might control his destiny when it comes to where he pitches, but he's still a slave to his emotions just like any other clock-puncher.
After manager Dale Sveum informed Dempster he would be coming out of his start against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday afternoon, Dempster showed his frustration by being mean to a cooler of sports drink. But was it Gatorade or Hater-ade? Dempster has been on edge lately because of trade rumors and his veto rights and the Dodgers and Braves, oh my! Maybe the power is getting to him a little.
It was methodical, how Dempster gently removed the lid and SLAMMED it to the ground with two hands. With his back turned to cooler — trying to trick it into thinking he was finished with the violence — he casually picked it up with his left hand and FLUNG it forward, its ice and drink contents flying among teammates trying to act like they don't see the tantrum happening. Finally, his anger peaking, Dempster tightened his grip on what was perhaps a bottle of lemon-lime and — WHAM! — fired it against the side of what looks like a wheelchair elevator on the home-plate side of the dugout. Somehow, he missed Jeff Baker's head along the way.
Any athlete is given to psychotic tendencies when placed in a competitive environment where things don't turn out as planned. We're only singling out Dempster because his name has been in the news, and because it's always fun to see a dugout trashed.
After the game (a 3-2 Pirates victory) and a chance to simmer, Dempster explained he wasn't mad at his manager for taking him out ... well, maybe he was. But, in Dempster's opinion, while it was Sveum's prerogative to make a move, it also was Dempster's prerogative to be unhappy about it because he wanted to win. That's very Zambrano-like reasoning there, speaking of pitchers who might have overstayed in Chicago.
Meanwhile, the GM of the Braves says they are moving on without Dempster. Frank Wren said in a radio interview that Dempster prefers the Dodgers to Atlanta because former teammate Ted Lilly pitches in Los Angeles. OK! Just don't throw anything else, Ryan!