Monday, April 17, 2006

Papelbon: The New Larry Bird

Dan Shaughnessy’s defining characteristic is his ability to profess love for someone one day only to proclaim to the world just how same individual is nothing less than the Devil incarnate is the next. Usually the swing in Dan’s outlook is precipitated by some monumental mistake, like voting for a woman or not hating New York.

Dan's latest mancrush is on Jonathan Papelbon, who according to The CHB is Dick Radatz all over again, writing: "The Sox haven't had a young closer like this since Dick Radatz." Similarly, on April 6, he wrote: [Papelbon] looked like Dick Radatz." Of course, Shaughnessy compares every hard-throwing Sox reliever with The Monster, so take that with the provebial grain of salt.

But Dan's on a roll, enjoying his new love so much he even goes to former arch enemy Curt Schilling for a quote. "This is a huge advantage for a young guy," said Schill. (Last year, he was “blowhard Curt Schilling.” Now that he’s 3-0, he’s “Schill.”) "Young guy." Wonder if, as he dutifully copied down the quotes, Dan realized that yesterday’s starter, Josh Beckett, is 25 and has already pitched 630 innings in the majors.

Taking no. 38’s place as the new Devil is Keith Foulke, who apparently has made the unique mistake of getting injured: “Terry Francona, who made the bold (and now so obvious) switch from Keith Foulke to Papelbon on the night of the third game of the season in Texas.” So obvious, eh? This is Foulke’s line through 12 games: five appearances, six innings pitched, four hits allowed, four strikeouts, one walk, and two runs allowed. That's pretty good, especially for a guy who had surgery on both legs in the past year.

But Papelbon has to stay where he is, Dan says, claiming he is "too valuable" in the bullpen, naturally leaving the reader to wonder why the ninth inning is more important than the eight that precede it, and how the 200 or so innings he would likely throw as a starter are less important than the 70 or so he might pitch in relief (see aforementioned Beckett comment).

It's because Know-nothings like Shaughnessy hate to have their age-old notions challenged. Guys who throw 95 are closers. Guys who throw 89 are not. Here's what he wrote Dec. 30, 2003, after the Sox signed Foulke:
People in the A's front office think Keith Foulke made a mistake coming to Boston. Maybe that's sour grapes, but some fear he won't react well to the fallout that comes when a Sox closer blows a save against the Yankees. It takes a specific mentality (think Dennis Eckersley), and some of the A's believe Foulke is too sensitive. I tend to agree ....
The Globe will never run a correction on any of that, but we know how wrong he was.


Beth said...

Ugh. He needs to get his slithery hands off my Jonathan. He can kindly get Foulke's name out of his mouth as well. In fact, while I'm at it, I want Tommy back, too.

fadedredsoxhat said...

CHB calls Papelbon a "kid" twice in the column while going out of his way to mention that Papelbon says "man" a lot. Jonathan Papelbon is 25, a newlywed, and at the highest level of his profession so I don't think he should be called a kid in print twice by some moronic columnist. I wouldn't have a problem with it if it was within the quote of one of his oldest teammates or his manager but a journalist should know better.

jenny said...

Well, he did call Schilling a "big lug." I guess that's a step up from blowhard, but when I use that term, it's usually not meant as a compliment.

Put the "kid" references on my pet peeves list right along next to "front office minions," "shotgun wedding co-GMs," and "Young Theo." I looked up minion: its most common connotation is fawning sycophant. As a writer, Dan should know that it comes off as insulting, but apparently simply enjoys demeaning people half his age who have already accomplished more in their relatively short lives than he ever will. He probably meant "kid" as an endearing term, but it's all in the context of who's saying it, and no one puts CHB and "endearing" in the same sentence.

Also, how did he get Schilling to talk to him? Third-party mediator?

dbvader said...

Sparkly Lyle was a pretty good young closer for the Sox.

That CHB quotation was a classic. "Some of the A's believe Foulke is too sensitive. I tend to agree." Based on what? He probably couldn't tell you a thing about Foulke (or Ortiz for that matter) before the Sox signed him. Now he knows that Foulke is too sensitive.

jenny said...

He probably asked something like, "Hey, Johnny from Burger King, does it bother you that everyone thinks you're a huge overpaid jerkface?" and when this inevitably irritated Foulke, CHB wrote that he was too sensitive. I know how he works.