Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

We're ALL dealing with it

Photo taken by Kelly O'Connor/ and used with permission.  I'm going to steal the caption she posted when she posted this photo because it still is fitting:  "Any frustration I had left about the games in Denver left me as I watched Papelbon stare straight ahead in the dugout in the top of the 10th. Whatever it meant to me, it meant so much more to him. I try not to forget that."

Photo taken by Kelly O'Connor/ and used with permission. I'm going to steal the caption she posted when she posted this photo because it still is fitting: "Any frustration I had left about the games in Denver left me as I watched Papelbon stare straight ahead in the dugout in the top of the 10th. Whatever it meant to me, it meant so much more to him. I try not to forget that."

When I began blogging, I realized early on that I had to decide on what my blog content would be.  Because the original name of my blog was “Red Sox Chick”, I received a lot of emails from people claiming to have gossip about players and feeling as if they were doing me a favor by passing it along.  Apparently folks thought a “chick” would be happy to share in the gossip.

I wasn’t.

I go out of my way to not post gossip and to not create scenarios when I have no earthly clue what is going on in a particular instance.  Tonight I change my position on that.  I don’t have gossip but I’m going out on  a limb and guessing that there is something more to Jonathan Papelbon’s troubles this season than just faulty mechanics.

I genuinely can’t believe some of the awful, hurtful, hateful things that so-called fans have been writing about Jonathan Papelbon.  The kicker is, the media is feeding right into it.  So here’s my question:

How do we know that Paps’ issues are all related to baseball and his deteriorating skills?  Back in June, Papelbon spent 5 days away from the team on bereavement leave for something Tito called “a personal, serious, issue”.   It was never reported what the issue was and once he came back it was dropped.  I refuse to believe the members of the media don’t know what was going on.  They love to brag that they are “insiders” and have all the information the fans could need or want.  Now I don’t want the media revealing what the deal was back in June.  I want the media to remember that it’s possible Papelbon had something pretty bad happen this  year and I don’t care what your job is or how much money you make sometimes it is difficult to just go back to normal.

In 2002 I had a family tragedy that affected me deeply even though it didn’t affect me physically.  Even after all was settled it took me an awfully long time to get back to my “old” self and, truthfully, I’m really NOT my old self.  I changed.  Some of the changes were good and some weren’t.  I have no idea what Papelbon went through this year but I find it unfair that so many are so eager to run him out on a rail so quickly.  Especially when many of those people know that he went through something bad enough to keep him away from the team for a week.  Just because they were good enough to keep the reasons why out of the public doesn’t mean they should forget that maybe a little compassion wouldn’t kill them.

Does it suck that Papelbon has seven blown saves?  Of course it does.  I feel just awful for the folks sitting at Fenway today with the rightful anticipation of hearing “Dirty Water” only to be dealt the blow they got.  And I’ve lived that…last year in the playoffs against the Angels…it isn’t something you get over easily.  But even last year, even without the possible personal tragedy in his season, after the initial shock wore off one thing stood out:  Papelbon is a man.  He’s a person just like anyone else.  He failed at his job today and he’s failed before.  He’ll fail again.  But he doesn’t want to fail, doesn’t plan to fail, and certainly doesn’t deserve to be crucified for failing (especially given he succeeds much more than he fails).

I’ve used this argument before and was told by one particularly venomous Papelbon hater that it wasn’t the job of the fans to consider that the players are people whose feelings get hurt.  He argued that for the money they make and for the fame their jobs afford them, they should expect that sports fandoms are based solely on “What have you done for me lately” and that “real” fans don’t worry about the players as people, they only focus on how good a player performs and if he doesn’t perform well he doesn’t deserve fans.  I’ve written thousands of words about how vehemently I disagree with this attitude.  I get that others feel the same way this fan does and think that my version of fandom is ridiculous…and I really don’t care.

I was away and missed every game this weekend.  I got home just as today’s game was ending and the first thing I did was put in some spam filters for the comments section in anticipation of some nasty comments.  So far, the filter has caught four comments (all from different ip addresses) calling Papelbon “an asshole”, “a f***ing pr**k” and some words that I refuse to print here even edited.  I’m not about to tell people it’s “only a game” because for the love of God I spend the majority of my free time reading or writing about it or watching it…it’s a bit more than a game to me and I know it’s more than a game to a good many people.  I just think that folks can be crazy-ass passionate about the game without turning into hateful people.

Love the game, folks, but remember that it is actual men and not unfeeling robots who play it.


September 5, 2010 - Posted by | 2010 | , ,


  1. Well said, Cyn. Well freaking said.

    Comment by Ted | September 5, 2010 | Reply

  2. Cyn, you encapsulated precisely why I can no longer read/watch any red sox coverage other than an occasional tweet from Edes or BrianMacP. In fact last night we were flipping through channels and stopped briefly on comcast NE – the station felger is on – as he said to the panel: so, who’s worse, Beckett or lackey? Yeesh, fellas. Could you BE more negative? ::click::

    At least there’s more room on the bandwagon these days.

    Comment by Becks | September 6, 2010 | Reply

  3. Well said Cyn. Its been my theory all along that something was up with Pap and strange that whatever it was didn’t somehow make the news. I’m sincerely hoping that whatever it is he and his family will have the support they need from one another. He has been so un-Pap like this summer and by that I don’t mean just his pitching. It’s almost like that ebullient personality has been put on hold. Been thinking this for weeks … just hope its not too bad.

    Comment by Dori | September 6, 2010 | Reply

  4. Tritto, Cyn. I’d actually forgotten about Paps’ leave earlier this year, and you may have hit upon a connection. He definitely hasn’t been himself this year. I’m not one to simply support “the laundry” – I like to know there are real people inside the uniforms. A nice reminder – thanks!

    Comment by Beth | September 6, 2010 | Reply

  5. This may go off on a bit of a tangent but I think this is a safe place for me to put my thoughts…
    I love the sox but am probably not as rabid a fan as many. But I do remember the days before 2004 very well and do not think that this level of venom against the players and management existed. Maybe I’m remembering wrong, but I don’t think it was there. We got what we had wished for so long- 2 WS in 3 years. Is that why are the expectations are so high now? Have we turned into Yankee fans expecting playoffs every year? Do I wish Papelbon hadn’t run his mouth so much in the past, sure. But do I think he should be run out of town for some blown saves, no. It’s been a challenging year on many levels for the team as a whole (and for many of the individuals that make up that team) but I have still enjoyed watching the season play itself out. It’s been disappointing but why is there such an intense need to lay blame… I don’t pay the player’s salaries so I have no right to comment on the FO and the payroll. And no one puts a gun to my head to make me part with some of my $$ for tickets.

    I’m going to the game tonight on a gorgeous late summer evening. I’ll enjoy my first sight of the field coming up the ramp, I’ll enjoy my hot dog with ketchup. I’ll root-root-root for the home team, and if they don’t win it’s a shame. But when all is said and done, it’s just a game.

    Comment by jojo | September 6, 2010 | Reply

  6. I’m with you, jojo. I found some moments this year to be utterly fantastic. Seeing Nava’s GS on his first at-bat. Wonderful. Seeing Darnell McDonald flourish with his chance to play in the bigs? Sublime. Watching Bill Hall have one helluva year? Fabulous. Seeing Papi show up, put up, and make people shut up? Great! Watching Victor get nearly killed every time he tries to rub Beltre’s head. Hysterical.

    But seeing Mike Lowell hit that home run on the first pitch with a standing ovation still going on?

    Freaking Priceless.

    There are other moments that also come to mind, but these will stay with me for quite some time (far longer than the disappointment over a few blown saves.)

    And it should be an interesting off-season.

    Comment by becks | September 6, 2010 | Reply

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