Friday, March 13, 2009

Closer To Reality

I find it interesting -- for a number of reasons -- that ESPN's Eric Young is condemning Papelbon for trashing Manny now that he's left the Sox, breaking the unwritten rule about discussing what goes on in a baseball clubhouse.

First off, since when does a member of the sports media have any room to complain about an athlete actually dishing dirt and coughing up details? Guys like Jim Rice and -- oh yeah -- Manny Ramirez (while he was with Boston, anyhow) were long criticized and even, in Rice's case, delayed entry to the Hall of Fame for failure to deal well with reporters.

And it's not as if the truth isn't demanded even if it's unpleasant. For details on this, please see all of the drama swirling around the issue of steroids in baseball. Let's not fool ourselves, either; it was the truth. And which of the following is more dishonorable: Manny feigning injury to stay off the field and half-assing it when he was on the field for Boston so he could slip out of the contract he had agreed to honor, or Papelbon admitting that it sucked to be his teammate during that time even though you're not supposed to talk about that stuff. Yeah, let's scold Papelbon.

Let's also not forget that Papelbon didn't come out and say these things when Manny was still on the team allegedly being a cancer. All he did was tell the truth -- when prompted to do so -- after Manny had left, in the process of defending the strength and unity of his current team with Jason Bay in left field, certainly a higher obligation. Young seems to think it'd have taken more balls to trash a current teammate. I seem to think that's a more legitimate violation of baseball's unwritten code with which a talking head could take issue.

If I were to compare Papelbon to anyone, it would be Mongo from Blazing Saddles. He's a big, clumsy beast who you send out when you want something done. Chastising him for telling the unpleasant truth to your own industry is not only dumb but futile. Much as my general policy with regard to pitchers is "shut up and pitch," I can at least realize that a 6'4" closer from Louisiana who relies on his heat a bit too much is going to flap his gums every now and then.

And as long as he keeps his ERA under 2.50 for my team, I'll find it mighty hard to take issue with him. Not unlike how when Manny was on the Sox, as long as he went out and played and put up a .300+ average with 30+ HR's and 100+ RBI's, I didn't much care about much else.

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