Jonathan Papelbon couldn’t look away.
Papelbon said Thursday on WEEI’s Hot Stove Show that he was glued to his TV during the Boston Red Sox’ World Series run. The longtime Sox closer, who is set to enter his third season with the Philadelphia Phillies, couldn’t help but root for his former organization.
“I watched every game of the World Series, every inning, every pitch. I loved it, man,” Papelbon said. “I was calling pitches when Koji [Uehara] was in there — you know how you do when you’re watching games, ‘He’s going to go to this,’ or, ‘He’s going to go to that.’ I tell you what, I was pulling for them.”
The Red Sox were incredibly consistent in 2013 and entered the postseason tied with the St. Louis Cardinals — whom they eventually defeated in the Fall Classic — for the best record in Major League Baseball. Boston was viewed by many as a World Series favorite, and Papelbon’s faith in his former club never wavered.
“I knew — I don’t want to say this now — but I knew they were going to win,” Papelbon said. “I knew what that clubhouse was like. I knew what was probably going on before the games, how it was, I knew what kind of leadership they had over there with David [Ortiz] and Dustin [Pedroia]. I just knew, if I was a betting man, I would have bet on them. But I’m not a betting man. I was happy for them. Dustin’s one of my best friends in the game. I couldn’t have been happier.”
Papelbon spent seven seasons in Boston before signing with Philadelphia as a free agent prior to the 2012 campaign. He earned four All-Star selections with the Red Sox and recorded the final out of the 2007 World Series. Papelbon knows a thing or two about succeeding on the big stage as a closer, so he has a great appreciation for Uehara’s remarkable 2013 run.
“I’m obviously biased. I thought he was the difference-maker and the reason why the Red Sox won the World Series. I truly do,” Papelbon said. “He did what he was supposed to do and put the team on his back. He was in that groove. He was just feeling it. As an athlete, when you start to feel that, it doesn’t really matter what you throw or what you do. You’re just going to be good. That was it.”
Papelbon’s Phillies finished the 2013 season with a 73-89 record, and reports have surfaced this offseason stating that Philadelphia is looking to trade the 33-year-old right-hander. If Papelbon is dealt, he’ll join his third organization, although it’s safe to assume that he’ll continue to monitor his first franchise from afar.