Weeks ago, Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Ryan Dempster fell from the rumor rails after he suggested he wasn’t interested in leaving the Chicago Cubs. As a player with no-trade rights, and a very well-liked player, no one really gave Dempster much grief for his decision.
But, setting aside personal and/or family considerations for staying in a particular city, why exactly do Cubs players – Dempster, Aramis Ramirez, Kerry Wood, among others – refuse to accept trades that could take them (temporarily) away from a team on a slow boat to China to a team in the heat of a pennant race? Why would they choose to stay and lose, when they can leave and win?
For Dempster, he says it’s a matter of wanting to win with the Cubs, and not wanting to run away from the team’s problems. In fact, he sees accepting a trade to a playoff team as quitting on the Cubs.
“I’ve never been a quitter,” Dempster said. “My whole career, whether it’s somebody telling you you’re not going to get drafted when you’re in high school, or somebody telling you you’re not going to make it to the big leagues … I wouldn’t go, ‘Oh, well, then OK, I’ll just try something else.’
“It would be easy to just say, ‘Oh, I’ll go somewhere else and win.’ But the hard thing to do, the more admirable thing to do, is to try and turn it around here and put a winning team on the field.”
When I read Dempster’s comments, for whatever reason, Hamlet’s famous words immediately popped into my head: “Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them?”
Is it more noble – or “admirable,” in Dempster’s words – to stay with the Cubs, and suffer the slings and arrows of a 100 loss team, or to take up arms with another team that actually has something to fight for? Clearly Shakespeare had written a few trade deadline articles in his day.
Dempster may be doing the “admirable” thing in his mind, but he recognizes it is not without risk.
“My window [for getting a ring] is obviously getting smaller, but it’s not that small yet,” he acknowledged. “Hopefully it’ll happen here because that’s what it’s all about.”
Again, I can’t be mad at Dempster. Sure, it’s even easier not to be mad at him this particular year (he currently sports a 4.98 ERA, and the return in trade would probably not be terribly exciting). But if he wants to stick it out, and if he remains productive, then I suppose that’s not something to decry.