EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Sports

July 17, 2008

Sox closer should close his mouth

Bill Burt

Here's some unsolicited advice for Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon:

Shut up.

Most closers get in trouble about three hours into a game. Papelbon's trouble, though, seems to occur before and after the closer's moment of truth.

Papelbon found out what happens when you say something stupid, and say it at a place where you can get in the back side like a great white shark.

Papelbon said this when asked who should close the All-Star game:

"If I was managing the team, I would close. I'm not managing the team, so it don't matter. I think we've both earned that right. Us by winning the World Series — having the opportunity of having our manager there, and our team being represented. And, no, by Mariano, what he's done to this role in Yankee Stadium."

We enjoy and often laud Papelbon's candor and competitive nature ... but saying that at Yankee Stadium!

Curt Schilling's oft-played 2004 WEEI sound-bite fits real well here.

"That's a stupid, idiotic comment to make," snapped Schilling.

Somebody, probably Sox manager Terry Francona, got to him and Papelbon changed course within the hour.

While in his hotel in New York the day before All-Star game, Papelbon jokingly grabbed a reporter's tape recorder and said:

"This is Jonathan Papelbon, closer of the Boston Red Sox. Mariano Rivera will be closing the 2008 All-Star game in Yankee Stadium. I'm making a statement right now, saying I don't want it, I want him to have it. I said all that earlier, but that's the way I feel about it."

Too late. The damage had been done.

If it had been in Milwaukee or Tampa, the story wouldn't have amounted to much.

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