Pity poor Ryan Dempster. This should have bee a great offseason for him.
First, he takes to the Chicago Cubs to the cleaners on a four-year, $52 million contract that has future regrets written all over it. Then, he's able to opt out of pitching for Canada in the World Baseball Classic, dedicating himself to regaling the Second City's press corps with bon mots and bad impressions in between sessions of sunning himself in Arizona and soft-tossing at minor leaguers for an inning or two.
Unfortunately for Ginger Balls, a few random Canadian yahoos have had the temerity to wonder why he is being such a pantywaisted nancy-boy when it comes to the WBC. Random yahoos like the Greatest Canadian to Swing a Bat in Anger, Larry Walker.
The attacks have gotten so fierce that the red-haired right-hander thrust himself into the understanding arms of Ken Rosenthal, who consoled him in a January 26 post at foxsports.com.
"I respect the game. I play hard. Now I'm getting criticized in Canada for the first time in my career just because I choose not to play in an exhibition tournament. How crazy is that?"
It's not actually that crazy, really. Surely, Dempster knew that balking at wearing the maple leaf wouldn't go over well in the nation that mints Paul Henderson's 1972 Summit Series goal on its currency.
Moreover, a pitcher who was allegedly healthy enough to sign a long-term contract just a couple of months ago should probably be healthy enough to come to Toronto for a weekend and throw three innings of baseball. This isn't exactly a Sisyphean task.
Don't get us wrong here. We don't want to castigate Dempster for making his choice. It was his to make, and if it makes sense to him, then so be it. We just wish he would shut up, stop whining and acting like a victim and OWN HIS DECISION.
If there is a positive to take out of this episode, it's that this hopefully means that Dempster won't be able to trade on his Canadian passport to get media work on this side of the 49th after his arm goes flying off into the third base dugout at Wrigley. Because we remember his "analysis" on Sportsnet's playoff coverage a few years back, and his scorn for the entire exercise was palpable.