Jonathan Papelbon is, in many ways, the perfect professional athlete. When he plays for your team, you cannot help but love him because he is just so damn good. One of the very best relief pitchers in the game today, one of the very best relief pitchers since he took over as the Red Sox closer in 2006. Papelbon racked up more than 500 strikeouts in 429 innings as a member of the Red Sox.
For opposing fans, Papelbon is the perfect foil. His excellence coupled with his, well, general nature of being make him a gigantic target for scorn. His antics — from celebratory jigs to round-mouthed faces of concentration to his glacial pace on the mound — don’t overshadow his status as a shutdown reliever, they enhance it. He is the perfect villain.
Jonathan Papelbon also seems to be on the perfect side of the “self-awareness scale” that makes him perfect fodder for columnists and, yes, the haters.
In a flagrant attempt to endear himself to Phillies fans, Papelbon took to the sports talk radio airwaves to express his fondness for his new fanbase. In doing so, he promptly alienated his former fanbase.
“The difference between Boston and Philadelphia, the Boston fans are a little bit more hysterical when it comes to the game of baseball,” Papelbon said in a radio interview with Philadelphia’s 94-WIP. “The Philly fans tend to know the game a little better, being in the National League, you know, the way the game is played. I’ve had a guy take off his prosthetic leg and throw it in the bullpen in Boston.”
To be fair to Red Sox fans, has Papelbon ever been to Philly? The fans in Philadelphia have the worst reputation in North American sports, if I recall correctly. Ever read a single thing about a Philadelphia sports team without mention of booing Santa Claus? You cannot because such a column does not exist.
Papelbon doesn’t need to pander to Phillies fans with his Spring Training words. Just show up and do you, Paps. Pitch like a lunatic, contort your face into that delightfully anus-esque pose and blow people away. The knowledgeable Phillies fans will appreciate it. Consider the quality of the starting rotation ahead of him, Papelbon will have plenty of opportunity to nail down three-run leads this season.
And the Rest
Kenny Rosenthal thinks Matt Cain will get paid like one of the best pitchers in baseball. And he deserves it! [Fox Sports]
Jose Canseco is the homeless man’s Kenny Powers. He lost his mind on Twitter yesterday. [Storify]
Happy Buster Posey Day! Buster returns behind the plate this afternoon in Arizona [SF Chron]
David Robertson hurt his foot “moving boxes” at home. A nation wept. [Fangraphs]
In case you hadn’t notice, theScore officially welcomed Stoeten and DJF into the fold. Watch for the return of the DFJ podcast and other assorted goodness. [DJF]
Jonah Keri is a good Canadian boy [Hardball Talk]
Things might be a bit slow around here today. This week’s podcast guest Mr. Kristian Jack hosts his annual charity soccer event at Lamport Stadium today. I am lucky enough to take part but, with Parkes on vacation, that doesn’t leave anyone to mind the store. There are a few posts scheduled for later this morning/afternoon but other than that…tumbleweeds.