Ryan Dempster, the Bullpen Beckons Thee
This past off-season, Ryan Dempster was considered the prime choice of assuming closer responsibilities in 2005. When I talked to him about it during the Cubs Convention, I brought up the concept that a closer needs a special mentality to get the last three outs of a game.
"Well, I hate losing," Dempster responded. "I don't even like losing at cards when I play with my Mom."
Dempster must really hate himself after yesterday's debacle. But it's nothing new. Dempster has been beaten up pretty badly since the start of Spring Training. In fact, aside from 20.2 innings of work last season, Dempster has been beaten on like he was a red-headed step child ever since the 2002 season - and 2001 wasn't very pretty, either.
So, what's it going to take for this 27-year-old to turn it around? Steve Stone might suggest it's a mechanical problem. Perhaps Dempster, like Kerry Wood, has an off-putting delivery that can render him entirely ineffective at times. Or, contrary to his claims, perhaps it's a mentality issue. Maybe he just lacks the psychological strength necessary to win ball games. But if you asked me, Dempster needs to do just one thing to turn it around and become a winner again. So, Ryan, if you're reading this, my advice is as follows:
Join a softball league.
Nah. I kid. Dempster may have a 5.04 career ERA, and he might be out of baseball before he turns 30, but it's unfair to judge him based on his performance in a single game. Besides, Angel Guzman is just waiting with baited breath to take Dempster's spot in the rotation. That should inspire the dumpster to get off his ass and win a few ballgames, right? Or, hell, he could always take into consideration that it's his walk year, and players always do better when they're vying for free agency, right?
Anyway, I don't think Ryan Dempster will become the GROTA whipping boy. I doubt he'd be around long enough for that to happen. Instead, I'd like to direct your attention over to Curtain #2, where you'll find our own Johnnie B. Baker Jr. If you look closely, you might also see two Cubs holding knives to his back. They're Jose Macias and Neifi Perez. Ok, they might not be knives per se, but they've got to have something on ol' Dusty. Why else would he use them in clutch situations over Dubois and Hairston Jr.?
...I'm waiting for an answer.
Ok, ok, so you don't know, either. The funny thing is, I doubt that even Dusty really knows why. Maybe something about playing the veterans, dude. How they have the experience necessary to win ballgames, dude.