Ryan Dempster came to the Cubs a few years ago as a wild man. He knew no boundaries. F it. This is the guy that would go to Stanley's and do live karaoke with Kid Rock and Eddie Vedder on a Sunday night. His claim to fame? His Harry Caray impression and man-crush on Will Ferrell.
Was he a starter in a closer's body? A nutcase? The guy that wears plaid pants to be funny and quotes Old School incessantly? A goateed SOB not afraid to kick it Lilly-style without his wedding ring? All of the above? Probably.
Then a surprising metamorphosis began to occur. Tommy Buzanis and I first noticed it at the Cubs Media Social last year, when we drunkenly asked for a picture only to be told, "Maybe later guys, I'm with my kid." I can respect that. Tommy can't (his stance for birth control is unwavering at best). As he morphed into a starter this year, both his mindset and public image began to change.
Gone is the guy that would put Icy Hot in your nutcup (or at least, that would admit to it). In his place is a man, goatee intact, that takes life, and his job, seriously. In his interviews, he's as stonefaced as DeNiro. Like a Chinese general, there are no smiles here. No jokes about Erin Andrew's cleavage. He's now a man of principle. Fist bump? A simple handshake will suffice, thank you.
If you don't like the new Ryan Dempster, you can kiss his khaki (not plaid pants) clad ass. A year ago, he might strike you out, he might walk you, but either way he was going home with your girlfriend. This year? He will strike you out, and then he'll take your mother out for a nice dinner at a Brazilian steakhouse and refuse to take a side on the McCain/Obama debate.
Ryan Dempster is a man of principle and honor. Ryan Dempter will win the Cy Young. Ryan Dempster will start Game 1 of the World Series. And he'll be wearing his wedding ring. Only after the Cubs clinch will he finally let loose, sprinting nude down Clark street, yelling "We're going streaking!"