Baseball pitchers are cowards. All of them.

Last night Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster threw four consecutive pitches at Alex Rodriguez. The first nearly hit him in the legs. The next two were tight inside. The fourth finally hit him in the elbow and ribs.

These pitches were intentional. No one debates this. Obviously Dempster is not pleased with Rodriguez’s use of performance enhancing drugs. Even as a Yankees fan, I am not pleased. I’d prefer that Rodriquez be banned from baseball permanently, and I’d like to see every other PHD user banned for life, Yankees included/

I’m also not so naïve as to forget that beloved Red Sox slugger David Ortiz was also busted for steroid not that long ago.

But here’s the thing about last night’s incident and incidents similar to it:

Baseball pitchers are cowards. All of them. Even my beloved Yankees.

Long ago, it became acceptable for a pitcher to throw a ball at an opposing batter for any number of ridiculous reasons. Sometimes it’s in retaliation for a previously plunked batter, even if the previous incident was clearly accidental. Sometimes pitchers hit batters because they don’t like the way the batter trotted around the bases after a homerun or the length of time a batter spent admiring a homerun ball. Sometimes pitchers are upset because the batter stole a base when his team was leading by four runs or the batter hit too many homeruns in a single game or the batter said something unacceptable to the media.

Pitchers stand 60 feet away from their nearly defenseless victims and throw a rock-hard ball 80-90 miles per hour at their legs, backs, elbows and shoulders. Sometimes their aim is not true and they hit a head.

Like a said: They are all a bunch of cowards.

Can you imagine if this happened outside a baseball game?

My neighbor is offended by something I say or do, and in retaliation, he throws a rock at my knees from behind his backyard fence.

Or my colleague is displeased with the way I’m boasting about a recent performance review, so in retaliation, he throws a shoe at me from across the room.

These things don’t happen in the real world, not only because these actions would seem stupid, childish and possibly criminal, but because the real world is not populated with nearly as many cowards as you can find in a major league bullpen.

Is there anything less honorable than throwing a ball at a man who is forced to stand in a small, chalk-outlined box and wait for it to happen?

And then if the batter retaliates by charging the mound to fight the coward who just threw a ball at him, the batter is thrown from the game and possibly fined for his actions.

In baseball, you’re punished for acting like a man and attempting to at least fight fair.

Last night Alex Rodriguez got the last laugh by hitting the game-winning homerun. There’s no better revenge than winning, and sadly, there is no other revenge available to Rodriguez, since he is not a pitcher.

Leave it to the Red Sox to make Alex Rodriguez, the most hated man in baseball (and justifiably so), appear sympathetic, at least for a moment.