By Sam Bush
Jonathan Papelbon doesn’t mind sounding like Donald Trump:
Saying what’s on his mind even it offends lots of Phillies fans because he knows he’s going to get traded just as Trump knows that once the oppositional research starts on his finances he’ll go back to real estate.
And the Boston Herald caught up with the Phillies closer yesterday at the All-Star game in Cincy.
If he was a card-carrying member of the Bum of the Month Club, Papelbon would get croaked for speaking this way. But way too many big-ticket free agents take a big statistical dip the moment they step off the plane in their new city — hello there, Pablo Sandoval — and yet here’s Papelbon, delivering the goods for the bad Phillies.
He has registered 120 saves in his three-and-a-half seasons with the Phillies, including 14 for this year’s outfit. Add his 219 saves in seven seasons with the Red Sox and that’s 339 in all — good for 13th place all-time.
But here’s his problem: He wants to win and the Phillies don’t win. And part of the reason he signed with them in the first place — that is, besides the $50 million over four years — is that he thought he was latching on to a winner. The year before he arrived, the Phillies won 102 games and were NL East champs. They haven’t been above .500 since, and may even lose 100 games this season.
“That’s why, to be totally honestly with you, this All-Star Game means more to me than most of them except probably my first one,” said Papelbon, who has been named an All-Star six times. “Because it’s been so much of a grind this year. It’s been so much harder to prepare.”
You wonder how this is going over with Phillies fans, this business of the ace closer practically staging a whistle-stop campaign to get out his message about getting out. But as he sees it, “Here’s the thing about Philly fans. Some of them really get me and love me. And some of them don’t get me at all and despise me. There’s no in-between … you either get me or you’re not.”
Most Red Sox fans “got” Jonathan Papelbon. Yes, he did implode in Game 3 of the 2009 Division Series against the Angels and he was on the mound at Camden Yards on the final night of that crazy 2011 season when left fielder Carl Crawford couldn’t come up with Robert Andino’s sinking liner, but most of all Boston fans will remember this: Papelbon striking out Seth Smith to wrap up the Sox’ four-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies in the 2007 World Series.
“When it’s going great, it’s great,” Papelbon said of his Boston years. “But when it’s going bad, it’s just as bad. And I was never in Boston to see that side of it, the (Bobby) Valentine side.
“Being in this Phillies organization and losing so much the last four years has really made me appreciate (Boston) a whole lot more. It’s made me work harder, made me appreciate a lot more. It’s a lot more humbling.”