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Papelbon on Letterman

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff  October 31, 2007 11:59 PM

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A transcript of Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon's appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman on Wednesday night:

Letterman: "Our first guest dominated opposing hitters throughout the postseason and closed out the World Series for the Boston Red Sox. From your World Champion Red Sox, here's Jonathan Papelbon. Jonathan."

(Audience applauds) Papelbon enters stage doing a jig while Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra play ‘Shipping Up to Boston' by the Dropkick Murphys)

Letterman: "How you doing?"

Papelbon: "Very good, very good." (Papelbon sits down)

Letterman: "Nice to see you, thank you very much. I gotta say, I've never seen you pitch in person, but, boy, on television, very impressive piece of work."

Papelbon: "Thank you."

Letterman: "Really nice job." (audience applause) "Take me through the repertoire, what do you have? You've got the fastball."

Papelbon: "Well, I've got the fastball."

Letterman: "Where do you like the fastball, what speed, 95, 98, right in there?"

Papelbon: "95-plus usually works." (audience laughs)

Letterman: "Mm-hmm, all right, okay, the fastball, and you throw that most of the time, is that correct?"

Papelbon: "Most of the time, right."

Letterman: "What's your other pitches?"

Papelbon: "Well, I've got the splitter and now I'm working on a, kind of a slider/cutter in between."

Letterman: "Slider/cutter – ooh, is that legal?"

Papelbon: "No, not yet." (Dave, audience laugh)

Letterman: "Now the splitter is the split-fingered fastball?"

Papelbon: "Correct, yeah."

Letterman: "Now this one moves around, is that right?"

Papelbon: "Well, it just drops. It's kind of like a change-up, but a little bit harder."

Letterman: "And how is that different than a curveball then?"

Papelbon: "Well, a curveball is a downbreaker."

Letterman: "Mm-hmm, mm-hmm." (Dave, audience laugh)

Papelbon: "Now, we've got a heater that's an upbreaker, okay, and then now the split's kind of a side downbreaker."

Letterman: "Have you ever hit against anybody who throws as hard as you throw?"

Papelbon: "Uh, no, I didn't. I was in the hole in the World Series – ‘in the hole' means you're not on deck, next person."

Letterman: "Ready to come up, so you might have had an at-bat."

Papelbon: "Yeah, yeah, but, you know, probably was gonna go deep, so." (Dave, audience laugh)

Letterman: (laughing) "You were probably going to go deep, that's what it looked like to you." (Dave, audience laugh)

Papelbon: "Yeah, but the game – but I had to go pitch."

Letterman: "I see. Now, well, first of all, tell us what you've been doing since you – and the Series, I mean, my gosh, you've got to feel a little sad for the Rockies. I mean, nobody really wants a sweep in the Series, do they? I guess you guys do, right?

Papelbon: "Yeah, we kind of do, yeah." (audience laughs)

Letterman: "Kind of do, yeah, yeah." (audience laughs) "So, from the moment you record the last out – and the last out, they got a hold of it, gave it a pretty good ride, is that right?"

Papelbon: "Yeah, yeah, well, you know, my teammates, they got a – you know, they think every time I come to the game it's easy, and you know, one-two-three, it's out. But it's really not that easy. I've gotta keep them on their toes, you know, so."

Letterman: "Deep fly ball to center."

Papelbon: "Deep fly ball usually does it." (audience, Dave laugh)

Letterman: "So take us now from the moment the out is recorded to tonight. What has the celebration been like. I know you had a parade in Boston."

Papelbon: "Yeah, well, we had a parade, not much sleep, a lot of partying, a lot of drinking."

Letterman: "A lot of dancing?"

Papelbon: "A lot of dancing, you know." (audience laughs) "We had a parade which the entire city of Boston came out to, so."

Letterman: "That's great, yeah."

Papelbon: "You know, and then, you know, other than not sleeping, you know, partying." (audience laughs, applauds)

Letterman: "Now, the only – and I'm no baseball historian – but the only other Major League pitcher that I knew of who danced a lot was Cy Young." (audience laughs) "Now how did you start dancing?"

Papelbon: "Well, you know, the song that I come out to – everybody's got a walk-out song, you know, either to the plate or coming out of the bullpen, and I come out to a song by the Dropkick Murphys called ‘Shipping Up to Boston,' which, obviously, the people in Boston love it."

Letterman: "It's a great song."

Papelbon: "Yeah, it's a great song. It's – you've got a little bit of Irish folk music with some hard rock, which I love both, so why not come out to that."

Letterman: "Exactly. And we've seen you dance now after two or three games. One time, it seemed like you were just wearing your underpants."

Papelbon: "Yeah." (audience laughs) "True, yes, I can't deny that, I can't deny that." (Dave, audience laugh)

Letterman: "And how does that happen?" (audience laughs)

Papelbon: "Well, there's an explanation for that."

Letterman: "Does the manager tap you on the shoulder -- ‘John, go out in your underpants and dance'?" (audience laughs)

Papelbon: "No, well, we were kind of waiting for the Yankees to play the Orioles and we had waited and waited and waited ‘cause our game was done, and we were kind of just messing around in the locker room like we usually do, and I just happened to have on nothing but some underwear and a kid's t-shirt Red Sox uniform jersey, and, you know, that's kind of what I decided to celebrate in, you know what I mean, what I can tell ya?" (audience, Dave laugh)

Letterman: "You raise an interesting point – people here in New York City, if they're New York Yankees fans, by and large despise the Red Sox, by and large despise the Red Sox." (smattering of audience cheers and applause) "And I'm sure that the average Red Sox fan feels the same about the Yankees." (some audience cheers and applause) "Do players also share that emotion? Do you really hate other ballclubs?"

Papelbon: "Well, you know, I think what it is is, um, you know, when we're off the field and we go out to eat and we see, you know, Bonds or Alex Rodriguez at a restaurant, you know, we're cordial and we say, ‘Hey,' and we get along, but I think once you step across those lines, I think hate does enter the equation, because, um – " (audience laughs) " – you know, I mean, you don't want to see those guys in a restaurant and you know, ‘Hey, how you doing?' and you know, ‘You know, oh, you kicked my ass today,' you know? That's not good."

Letterman: "Yeah, that's not good. So there really is that feeling, it's impossible to escape that responsibility as being a Boston Red Sox."

Papelbon: "Yeah, I think you're right, yeah."

Letterman: "When you guys were – who was it you were playing? You were down in the series 3-to-1, who was it, was it Cleveland?"

Papelbon: "The Indians, the Indians, yeah."

Letterman: "The Indians – oh, man, what a series that was, huh."

Papelbon: "Yeah, it was a fun series."

Letterman: "What turned that around because it looked like the team from Cleveland was going to prevail? What happened to turn it around?"

Papelbon: "Well, we had Big Papi, aka David Ortiz, the Large Father, whatever you want to call him." (audience laughs)

Letterman: (laughs) "The Large Father."

Papelbon: "Yeah, uh, whatever you want to call him, it all translates, you know. He kind of got us guys together, just no coaches, no media, no nothing like that, and you know, kind of held a team meeting and said, ‘Hey, guys, look, you know,' and this is quote-unquote David Ortiz." (starts to impersonate Ortiz) "He goes, ‘Hey, guys, I've got to tell you some-sing, if you – '" (audience laughs) "'Some-sing. If you wear a Red Sox uniform jersey, you're a bad _____ _____.'" (audience roars with laughter and applause) "So, hey, that's quote-unquote. Sorry about that." (Papelbon smiles, audience still laughs; audience applauds)

Letterman: "Must have had one of my spells, because…"

Papelbon: "And this is actually coming from a guy, um, not very many people know this, but David Ortiz happens to be a huge Bedazzler." (Dave cracks up laughing, audience laughs) "So, yeah, yeah, see like this jacket right here? He couldn't wear this jacket normally, he'd have to put, like, Bedazzle a Lamborghini in the back, or something like that." (audience laughs)

Letterman: "I see, yeah. So that was it, that got everybody's attention."

Papelbon: "I think it did, yeah." (audience laughs)

Letterman: "Now, does it hurt to throw that hard?"

Papelbon: "Well, no, it doesn't hurt because you get all that adrenaline going, but usually after that adrenaline seems to kind of calm down, you know those nights, it's tough to go to sleep once you get that throb, but, yeah, it does hurt."

Letterman: "Because I noticed, in between innings, you've got your arm wrapped, you're trying to keep it cool."

Papelbon: "Oh, yeah, yeah."

Letterman: "And in terms of th speed, the difference between like a fastball – you said, 95, 98 – what is your off-speed pitch, your change up?"

Papelbon: "88 to 90."

Letterman: "So that really brings a guy right out of his shoes, doesn't it?"

Papelbon: Yeah, hopefully, yeah." (audience laughs)

Letterman: "What about the turmoil with the Boston Red Sox roster? Like, are you going to be in the market for a third baseman?"

Papelbon: "Yeah, you know, I think right now we're just kind of waiting to see what Mike Lowell does. You know, I know – "

Letterman: "What a player that guy is, huh?"

Papelbon: Man, he's a phenomenal guy, he's awesome. You know, MVP and everything, and a great man."

Letterman: "And if he goes someplace, what about Alex Rodriguez? Do you want him to come to Boston?"

Papelbon: "Yeah, well, you know, personally, I would love to have him come on just so I don't have to pitch to him." (audience laughs) "But, you know, I think the fans in Boston might think otherwise. Um, but, you know, obviously we'd like to have Mikey back, that's for sure, but we've got to wait and see what happens."

Letterman: "And if you don't get him and you don't get Alex Rodriguez, can you still win the World Series again? Can you defend successfully?"

Papelbon: "Yeah, you know, I think we can. You know, I think right now Theo and the guys in the front office have put together a team – we've got a lot of young guys coming up, you know. This is not the same Red Sox team that won the championship in '04. We've got a lot of young guys coming up, so."

Letterman: "A whole different deal, whole different style, whole different personnel. And one more question about pitching, because it was so intimidating watching these balls come in and then the replay on the television – do you ever run one right up under a guy like that?" (Dave motions under his chin) "I mean, do you ever get – you know what I mean?" (audience laughs)

Papelbon: "Just like that right there?" (motions under his chin) "Well, you got to, man, because, you know, you've got to let them know who's boss out there, and them guys, they'll dig in on you, man, you've got to get them heaters in, so."

Letterman: "And then afterwards, is it, ‘Yeah, take that sissy.'" (audience laughs)

Papelbon: (laughing) "I don't know if I'll use the word sissy. Um, I might use another word." (Dave, audience laugh)

Letterman: "Yeah, like ‘bedazzler.'" (Papelbon, audience laugh) "Well, listen, hey, enjoy yourself, very entertaining watching you pitch, congratulations."

Papelbon: (shakes Dave's hand) "Thank you, Dave."

Letterman: "Jonathan Papelbon, ladies and gentlemen.”

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