Much of that stems from Papelbon’s recent comments comparing the two fan bases.
“The difference between Boston and Philadelphia, the Boston fans are a little bit more hysterical when it comes to the game of baseball,” Papelbon told 94WIP’s Angelo Cataldi and The Morning Team. “The Philly fans tend to know the game a little better being in the National League, you know, the way the game is played.”
Needless to say, those words haven’t been sitting well with much of Red Sox Nation, as there are some fans taking umbrage with the ex-Sox closer seemingly questioning their baseball IQ. Add in that Papelbon said during that same interview that he would have entertained the idea of throwing on some pinstripes as a member of the Bronx Bombers, and there’s reason to believe there are just as many Sox fans hoping the righty throws out his arm as there are thankful for his contributions over the past seven years.
It hasn’t exactly been mass hysteria in Boston, but there’s a degree of hysteria, nonetheless. And it’s all a bit perplexing. After all, what is the guy supposed to say?
Sure, Papelbon could have ducked and dodged any such question, but even that would have lent itself to criticism. And obviously, he isn’t going to come out and say that Red Sox fans are superior to Phillies fans — as much as that would have pleased the Boston masses. Could you imagine the backlash the closer would face down in Philly before ever toeing the rubber had he even insinuated such?
In fact, Papelbon’s words may have been taken a bit out of context, as it’s likely that he was alluding to the fact that the National League offers its own set of obstacles when it comes to absorbing a typical baseball game — given the double switches and the more strategic nature of the game in the NL.
In other words, Papelbon faced a no-win situation when it came to comparing fan bases, as is the case with any athlete who’s asked to do so after landing in a new home. It’s a matter of trying to impress new friends without burning bridges with old ones. But the fact of the matter is that whenever a breakup happens with a player of Papelbon’s magnitude, someone’s going to get hurt.
It doesn’t have to be that way, though. Surely, the players on the field are paying no mind to Papelbon’s comments, and therefore, Red Sox fans should do the same.
Papelbon’s comments should have been met with shrugged shoulders rather than popped blood vessels, especially with how adamant he was about pointing out the passion that Red Sox fans bring to the ballpark each game.
“I’ve had a guy take off his prosthetic leg and throw it in the bullpen in Boston,” Papelbon said right after he “questioned” the intelligence of Sox fans. “It’s a religion. It’s a way of life. They come to the field and they expect certain things out of players. It’s an environment where you put up or shut up. I enjoyed that. It got my motor running every day.”
That seems like a much more accurate assessment of Red Sox fans than the unintelligent label that many are left feeling like Papelbon slapped on them. And it’s likely why he elected to elaborate upon his initial answer.
So, yes, everyone’s entitled to his or her opinion on the matter. But unless Andrew Bailey suddenly starts questioning the intelligence of Boston fans, there really isn’t much to be up in arms about.
The focus should be on the 2012 Red Sox, a team that Papelbon isn’t a part of.
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