Admit it. While you love the big drop of Koji’s split-finger, you miss the big mouth of Jonathan Papelbon.
And Pap misses you.
“The Red Sox are a part of who I am, man,” Papelbon told the Globe’s Julian Benbow before Tuesday’s game in Philadelphia. “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.”
This sentiment is a far cry from Papelbon’s dis on Boston to a Philadelphia radio station in 2012.
“The difference, I would say, between Boston and Philadelphia, is that, you know, I think that the Boston fans are a little bit more hysterical when it comes to the game of baseball,” Papelbon said after leaving Boston as a free agent. “I’d say the Philly fans, I think they tend to know the game a little bit better, being in the National League, the way the game is played.”
But things haven’t worked out in Philly the way the 34-year-old closer had hoped as the Phillies have not had a winning season since he signed a 4-year, $50 million deal to join the NL East team after the 2011 season.
“It’s been a tough transition over here,” Papelbon told the Globe. “I’m not going to lie. It’s been tough. Tough getting used to the way it is here. It’s two totally different organizations.
“The way they’re ran, the way they’re coached, the players that are on them. Two totally different styles of baseball. I don’t know if I can honestly tell you if I’m even used to it yet.”
Papelbon echoed those sentiments to ESPNBoston.com after he closed out Philadelphia’s 4-2 win over Boston with a four-out save.
— Troy Kline (@stunnerkline) April 9, 2015
“I’ve never been embraced here, from day one,” Papelbon said. “… It’s not antagonizing [the Phillies]. It’s speaking the truth. When I get asked that question, I give you the truth.”
Papelbon continued to try to clarify his comments after the game.
“What is a Phillie?” Papelbon replied when asked to expound upon his comments that he identifies with the Red Sox more than the Phillies. “A horse? That’s what it is? I feel like a horse. I felt like a horse tonight, yeah.”
When pressed by reporters, Papelbon tried to explain his thinking.
“For me, it’s like where are you from? I’m from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. So that’s what I will always say. That’s where I feel like I’m from. That’s where I grew up. That’s where my roots are.
“So if you ask me, what runs deep in you, the Red Sox still run deep in me. It’s where I’m from. It’s where I grew up, it’s who I became as a pitcher. So that will always stick with me no matter what.”
Papelbon professed more Red Sox love to WEEI.com after the postgame presser.
“It’s different organizations. Different philosophies. Different front office. Different coaches. Different everything,” Papelbon told WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford of the Red Sox and Phillies. “There’s two separate entities. I intend on going to the Hall of Fame. If I go to the Hall, I want to go as a Red Sox. That’s what I feel like I feel like I am. I have a world championship ring with them.”
Papelbon doesn’t think he’ll ever be embraced by Philly fans.
“No. I think that time has come and gone,” Papelbon said. “Do you think I can do anything? I don’t. It’s just part of what’s happened here.”
One of the things that happened to Pap in Philly was a beef with a local sports media veteran last May.
The Phillies closer and longtime radio/TV commentator Howard Eskin, reportedly needed to be separated in the Phillies clubhouse before a game against the Dodgers after Papelbon came under fire for being unavailable to close out a game against the Mets on Mother’s Day.
According to Macho Row, a Phillies blog, Ant Scaramuzzi—who reportedly works for the Phillies—tweeted that “Eskin and Papelbon just got into a heated verbal argument by the Phils dugout. Both had to be restrained.”
And one of the other things that happened in Philly was Pap’s infamous crotch grabbing incident last September — something he repeated but aimed at the Red Sox dugout last night.
Papelbon was fined an undisclosed amount by Major League Baseball after the September incident. in which he grabbed his crotch in response to getting booed on his way to the dugout. Umpiring crew chief Joe West ran him from that game, at which point Papelbon charged back on to the field and got into West’s face, making contact with both West and first base umpire Marty Foster.
After that game, Papelbon denied making the gesture, and on Monday he said his actions weren’t directed at Phillies’ fans and apologized for the incident via a statement.
“While I completely understand how the fans would perceive my gesture while being booed, it was not my intent whatsoever to insult the fans of Philadelphia,” Papelbon said. “If it was perceived in that manner, I sincerely apologize.”
The indecent incident brought to mind former Sox general manager Theo Epstein’s famous response when asked about Papelbon’s annoyed comments about the team’s acquisition of Billy Wagner as bullpen insurance back in 2009.
When apprised that Papelbon sounded off about the team not needing another closer like Wagner despite multiple assurances from the organization that Wagner would not be closing and Papelbon’s job was not in jeopardy regardless of the trade, Epstein said, “I think Pap feels he was misunderstood. He’s not a Rhodes Scholar to begin with, obviously.”
Apologizing to Philly fans is something Pap’s going to have to get used to if insists on speaking his mind.