To recap, Dempster in the top of the second threw inside to Rodriguez on three straight pitches before finally plunking him on the fourth. In case you haven't seen it, here's the video:
For a number of reasons, this was a mindless, self-defeating little snit on the part of Dempster.
First and foremost, the Yankees went on to plate two runs in the inning and thus tie the score. Second, Dempster almost certainly set up one of his teammates for a retaliatory HBP at some point in the indeterminate future. Third, Dempster was sending ... what kind of message, exactly?
Well, consider these two tweets from hockey writer and Dempster acquaintance Wayne Scanlan (Big HT to Big League Stew) ...
Met Ryan Dempster in Detroit. Said he had an issue with A-Rod and would drill him first chance he got. Man of his word. #soxyanks— Wayne Scanlan (@HockeyScanner) August 19, 2013
A-Rod snubbed Dempster at a public event. Dempster was not impressed.— Wayne Scanlan (@HockeyScanner) August 19, 2013
If what Scanlan says is true, then Dempster drilled A-Rod not because of PED use or the possibility that he ratted out others. Rather, Dempster drilled him because of a perceived affront that can be characterized as being "decidedly middle-school in nature."
But even if Dempster wasn't behaving like a hormone-soaked "tween" and was instead on a high-minded mission of conscience, the straits of his team, which is locked in struggle for the AL East title, are far, far more important than his pretentions of valor.
Those who, from the safe remove of their sofas, demand Manly Violence in their sports programming won't like this, but intentionally hitting people with fastballs is dangerous and stupid and has no place in baseball. Yes, it's part of baseball's past, but so is, say, tuberculosis.
Inside purpose pitch designed to make the hitter uncomfortable? Perfectly fine, even if the pitch gets away on occasion. Decking someone with malice aforethought because he, I dunno, loudly pronounced that his Izod cost more than your Le Tigre? Infantile and condemnable.
Besides, if Dempster, safeguarded in the DH league, is so interested in the honor-codes of yore, then perhaps he should truly take a cue from the hardened models of baseball's past ...
In "old days", according to @thorn_john, retaliation pitches not norm- challenging to fistfight postgame..was. Lets see that, tough guys.— Brian Kenny (@MrBrianKenny) August 19, 2013
I don't advocate that either, but at least it shows a bit more courage on the part of the assailant.
As for what did happen, Dempster should've been ejected on the spot, and he ought to face a lengthy suspension. By choosing to settle a score of mysterious origins, Dempster willfully failed his team, and A-Rod's misdeeds, whether real or confined to one's imagination, don't change that one whit.