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The arithmetic of plunking Alex Rodriguez

Ryan Dempster threw at Alex Rodriguez. The fans loved it. Should they?

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Throwing at Alex Rodriguez is a tricky equation.

On the one hand, the fans loved it. Whether you think throwing at Alex Rodriguez is the height of stupidity, or the best thing anyone in a Red Sox uniform has done in years, there's no denying the ovation Ryan Dempster received after first throwing behind the controversial third baseman, then plunking him three pitches later. Whatever else he might do in his Red Sox career, Ryan Dempster has cemented some tiny spot in Red Sox legend. He's the one who hit Alex Rodriguez after the Biogenesis scandal.

On the other hand...

It's the second inning. It's the first batter of the second inning. Alex Rodriguez represents a potentially costly leadoff runner. Ryan Dempster represents the only thing standing between the Red Sox and a disaster of a game in a close division race right before a road trip out west. However mediocre he's been, Dempster is infinitely preferable to eight innings from the bullpen, Brandon Workman or no.

Also, y'know, the general moral qualms that come with throwing at anybody, even Alex Rodriguez. I'll leave that particular mess up to the individual. Some of you probably consider it a reasonable part of the game. Others probably think of it as the height of barbarism. To each their own.

Let's forget about the moral compunctions for now, though, and just talk baseball. It's only been two years since this team missed the playoffs by one game. It's the second inning of a close game. The Red Sox are in a situation where a loss signals the continuation of a slump, and a win both a series victory and a return to normalcy. It's a two-run game. And Alex Rodriguez is the leadoff batter in the second inning for Ryan Dempster, who has not exactly done a good job of keeping runs off the board.

Ryan Dempster ended up giving up that lead in the second inning. Given that it's the third as I type, only time will tell what's to come.

No matter how much you might object to the idea of hitting Rodriguez, there's no denying it brought something to this game. For the first time in a long while, Red Sox - Yankees felt like Red Sox - Yankees. An incensed Joe Girardi got himself tossed, Alex Rodriguez glared daggers at Ryan Dempster, and the fans, many of them on their feet, were out for blood, almost as if they expected John Henry to step from a luxury box and give the thumbs down like a Roman emperor of antiquity.

But even taking all of that into account, did Ryan Dempster do what was best for his team? That's a tough argument to make.