Ruined His Rep?

HE DESERVES BETTER
THE PARTY'S OVER

DEMPSTER DESERVES BETTER FROM FANS

Isaacson By Melissa Isaacson
ESPNChicago.com
Archive

It's sort of funny how Cubs fans have turned on Ryan Dempster, though certainly nobody is laughing. If Dempster was wearing a different uniform -- and yes, the point is that it seems he NEVER will -- those fans would certainly be annoyed with him for dragging out his eventual trade and possibly costing the club the rights to a valuable player.

But it's unlikely another team's fans would take it as personally as Cubs fans seem to be doing. Other fans would not be so quick to think this somehow makes Dempster a traitor, as if his first priority should be the future of a franchise he will one day no longer be a part of, rather than his own and his family's well-being.

Dempster did not just turn into a selfish, indecisive jerk. He is a professional athlete who has been as consistent and consistently unselfish as any Cubs player has been over the team's last nine seasons. Now he is enjoying his finest season -- and best leverage -- of his career and he is supposed to ignore this fact and let everyone else dictate his future?

If Dempster was angry at Cubs president Theo Epstein because he was not the first to hear about an impending trade to Atlanta and is thus taking it out on the team, as most theorize, it makes sense, regardless of who leaked the news. And it does not make Dempster a prima donna because he wants to control where he goes to the full extent that he can, and take his full time allotted to do it.

If this inconveniences the Cubs and angers fans, too bad. It's why earning 10-and-5 protection is not easy to attain. If it makes fans feel better to start booing him now, it only makes them look short-sighted and petty.

Yes, it would have been nice to see Randall Delgado in a Cubs uniform if, in fact, that was ever going to happen. But Ryan Dempster does not owe it to Cubs fans. And he doesn't owe it to the Cubs.

Even if it means he'll be stuck with them a while longer.

Melissa Isaacson is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com.

DEMPSTER HAS WORN OUT HIS WELCOME

Greenberg By Jon Greenberg
ESPNChicago.com
Archive

Ryan Dempster has the collectively bargained right to say where he will pitch the rest of this season. As a player with 10 years in the majors and the last five on the same team, he can veto any trade. Dempster has been a model modern Cub in that he's a nice guy who has had some very good seasons, along with some lesser ones, and once collapsed mightily in a playoff game.

So while Dempster did nothing wrong in not approving a trade to Atlanta, or whatever happened in this morass, Cubs fans still have their god-given right to be miserable. The only CBA that's important on the North Side is the Chicago Bagel Authority.

Dempster has been a pretty popular Cub over his tenure. He went from shaky closer to reliable (mostly) starter. His story -- his toddler daughter Riley suffers from a rare disease -- has endeared him to Cubs fans, as it should.

He can also do a bang-up impression of Will Ferrell's Harry Caray impersonation.

But now he has worn out his welcome by asserting his independence after a deal with Atlanta for a pretty good young pitcher was leaked through Braves reporters. Dempster, it's been said, wants to pitch for the Dodgers, I guess so he can run on the beach with his buddy Ted Lilly.

Cubs fans desperately want a rebuild, and Dempster isn't part of the plan. He's pitching as well as ever, but to Cubs fans, he's nothing but a commodity. That's life.

So by stalling, Dempster has annoyed the die-hards, who have quickly turned on him.

Seeing as Dempster never won anything of consequence as a Cub, this exit might be how fans remember him. Is it selfish for Cubs fans to think Dempster is selfish? Such is the nature of being a fan. They care about you and your family, but not as much as they do about their team.

Unlike Sammy Sosa, who was excoriated for leaving the last game of the season early, Dempster has wronged fans by staying too long.

The party's over, Ryan -- time to go.

Jon Greenberg is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com.