No Controversy This Year as Papelbon Insists Mo Should Close

Last year, Jonathan Papelbon caused quite the stir when he said that, even though the All-Star Game was being played in Mariano Rivera’s home ballpark, he wanted to close the Game.

As a result, “PAPELBUM!
was splattered across the back page of the New York Daily News as the
closer became even more of an enemy to Yankees fans than ever before.

This year, Papelbon was a bit more cautious with his words.

“There’s no reason why Mo shouldn’t save this game,” Papelbon told WEEI
on Monday. “I guess I’m just going to have to wait until he retires to
get a chance. This All-Star Game is definitely a game about how many
times you’ve been here. A guy who has as many All-Star Games under his
belt should deserve to close.

“But do I want to close? Of course I want to. Will I? Probably not.”

Papelbon’s careful statement can be marked up as a result of living
and learning by the closer. Last year, the New York media took his
desire to close the game and translated it into a declaration of war
against the Yankees and Rivera. The result was a bombardment of
harassment and boos at the All-Star parade, both to Papelbon and his wife, who was pregnant at the time.

After speaking with the media Monday, Papelbon joked with the Boston Herald’s Steve Buckley.

“Hopefully I won’t have to wear my bulletproof vest,” Papelbon said in regards to this year’s parade.

While the closer’s sentiments seem to have changed over the course
of a year, Papelbon’s original quote in 2008 was taken a bit out of
context by the media.

“We owe a lot to this game, we truly do,” Papelbon said last July.
“And I feel that I owe a lot to this game and if that’s one of things
that I owe this game, letting an elder statesman go ahead of me, then
that’s what it is.”

Rivera, the man on the outside of the mini-controversy, doesn’t seem to be too affected by anything Papelbon says.

“Jonathan is a great guy,” Rivera told the New York Daily News. “He has his own mind, but he means well.”

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