NOTE: I prepared the following post before the whole Atlanta trade-that-wasn’t went down. Since then, the general attitude toward Mr. Dempster has taken a vicious turn. I have a lot of things I could say on this subject, but am choosing to omit them for now. I will say that fans’ recent treatment of Ryan has absolutely disgusted me. Since my opinion of him has not changed, I am going forward with the goodbye I lovingly penned two weeks ago. That is all.
Ryan Dempster served us splendidly for 8+ years, and I have no reservations in saying that I will miss him very, very much. His departure, though neccesary and long expected, feels like the end of an era (I believe that Carlos Marmol now inherits the title of longest tenured Cub).
To commemorate Ryan’s time with the Cubbies, I have put together the following timeline… please chime in if I’ve left anything obvious out!
Ryan Dempster, a timeline:
January 21, 2004: Ryan Dempster signs as a free agent with the Chicago Cubs (salary: $300,000).
August 1, 2004: Ryan makes his Cubs debut, pitching 2/3 of an inning and allowing 1 hit, 1 walk, and no runs. This goes almost entirely unnoticed as the much-hyped Nomar Garciaparra was also making his premier appearance as a Cub, and Greg Maddux was making his first attempt at win number 300.
Spring 2005: Ryan removes the tires from teammate Will Ohman’s car, puts it on blocks, and hides the tires around the ballpark.
2005: Ryan assumes the role of closer and records 33 saves, posting a 3.13 ERA.
2006: The Cubs go 66-96. Dempsty puts up a 1-9 record and saves 24 games. He is not a fan-favorite.
March 2007: Ryan informs an Arizona paper that if pitching doesn’t continue to work out, he will pursue a career as a ninja.
2007: The Cubs improve drastically as a whole, but owing to his poor personal stats, Mr. Dempster’s popularity does not. The nickname “Dumpster” is widely employed throughout Cubs Nation. The Cubs consider converting Ryan to a starter mid-season. The press gets wind of it, and the idea is soon nixed. Ryan would go on to comment on this subject the following year with, “It’s amazing how unhittable I was, last year, as a starter.”
Early 2008: Haters, doubters, pessimists and skeptics have a field day when it is officially announced that Ryan will make the transition to the starting rotation.
April 23, 2008: The Cubs record their 10,000th victory as a franchise. When the press question Ryan on the event, he says, “I remember when we won 5,000. What a memorable day that was.”
Mid 2008: Haters, doubters, pessimists and sceptics are forced to eat their words as an excellent first half earns Ryan a well-deserved berth on the National League All Star Team. Most still feel that this was a fluke and that he will go on to prove their initial inclinations.
September 20, 2008: Ryan showers fans with champagne from atop the third-base dugout at Wrigley Field, following a win over the Cardinals which clinches the Cubs a place in the postseason.
Late 2008: Prior to a September series with the Brewers, manager Lou Piniella rearranges the Cubs pitching rotation so that Mr. Dempster will face off against Milwaukee’s ace CC Sabathia. When asked the reason for this set-up, Ryan replies, “I hit better off left-handed pitching.”
End 2008: 😦
November 19, 2008: Ryan signs a 4-year, $52 million deal to remain with the Cubs.
Spring 2009: Ryan admits that Ted Lilly scares him.
Mid 2009: The by-now beloved pitcher issues a press release informing the public that his infant daughter, Riley, had been born with a condition known as DiGeorge syndrome, or 22q11 deletion syndrome, a disease which complicates swallowing, breathing, and speech, and which affects about 1 in 1,800 babies born. Ryan, along with his wife Jenny, have since started a foundation to raise awareness for the disease.
September 25, 2009: Ryan signs a baseball for yours truly prior to a game in San Francisco, and just behaves tremendously awesome in general.
Spring 2010: Ryan ends up on the wrong end of a bet with teammates when Team Canada loses its first game against Team USA in the Vancouver Olympics. There are reportedly peanut butter and jelly sandwiches involved.
2010-2011: Mr. Dempster further proves his awesomeness as a human being and competence as a pitcher. Everybody loves him except for utter morons, and it is almost funny to remember how he was once a closer who was regularly derided by the populace.
Early to Mid 2012: Ryan throws 33 consecutive scoreless innings.
July 2012: Ryan declines a trade to the Atlanta Braves, inciting the ire of the majority of Cubs Nation.
July 31, 2012: Ryan Dempster is traded to the Texas Rangers for prospects, ending his 8-year-long Cubs career.
So long, Dempsty. And thanks for the memories.