Jonathan Papelbon Doesn’t “Feel Much Like a Phillie” — But Why Would He?
Jonathan Papelbon does not feel all that much like a Phillie.
The Phillies closer told the Boston Globe this before yesterday’s game against the Red Sox. “The Red Sox are a part of who I am, man,” he told the paper. “I don’t really feel much like a Phillie. … Boston’s where I was born and raised. It’s kind of like that, you know. It’s the city you were born and raised in.” He also said “that time has come and gone” for him to be embraced by the Phillies fanbase.
After he picked up a four-out save in the Phillies 4-2 win last night, Papelbon gave an excellent, somewhat bizarre postgame interview where he talked about horses and money.
Coming in there in a pressure situation, bases loaded, fans cheering you, does it make you any more like a Phillie?
“Other than, a what? What is a Phillie? A horse? That’s what it is? I feel like a horse, yeah. I feel like a horse. I felt like a horse tonight.”
When 25,000 in the rain cheering you on, do you feel like a Phillie?
“Yeah, I feel like a horse.”
A Phillie is not a horse in this case.
“What is it?”
It’s the thing with the red pinstripes.
“Yeah, of course.”
Do you think [the Red Sox] wanted you back?
“No. That was probably obvious.”
Do you feel slighted by that?
“No. It’s business, baby. Straight cash.”
You’re here for straight cash?
What are you here for?
“I’m here to be a Phillie, do my job and compete, that’s all really I do, no matter where I’m at. That’s it.”
There is no way there were still 25,000 people there in the rain at the end of last night’s game, but that’s beside the point. Papelbon was beloved in Boston because he closed well for six seasons, but mainly because the team was good. He got the final out of a World Series sweep. He did an Irish jig on the mound.
So, of course: Why should Jonathan Papelbon feel like a Phillie? When he came here the team was coming off five straight division titles and a 102-win season. They haven’t had a winning record since. Despite pitching anywhere from “OK” to “well” during his time in Philadelphia — last season was his best year here — he was booed during player introductions on Opening Day. His misstep was grabbing his crotch after a bad outing. He was booed after he returned from that suspension, and will likely be booed for the rest of his tenure here. He’s right: The time for him to be accepted by the fanbase has passed.
And there’s nothing wrong with booing a player you don’t like, even if he’s certainly not the reason for the Phillies’ sharp decline the last few seasons. So feel free to boo him. But don’t boo him for saying he doesn’t feel like a Phillie: He has no reason to but straight cash! When you’re a closer on a team that doesn’t have many leads, how else would you feel?
There is good news if you don’t like Papelbon: This is the last year of his deal. Unless he finishes 47 more games this season. Then he’ll hit 100 games finished over the last two years, his option will vest and the Phillies will have him for one more season.
Either way, we’ll still have that time he said Philadelphia makes him feel like he’s in Paris. That was great.
Follow @dhm on Twitter.