First time writer here giving this a try. This might not be a popular topic as many Nats fans have dug in deep with their stances on Papelbon.
I am thinking that the Papelbon Issue should now be a non-topic or should be a non-issue, but I can’t get over how many people are still upset. The stories about Papelbon continued on Sunday afternoon in an article by Tom Bowell (click here) and this time he will be judged on his choice of music and his political t-shirt. Papelbon has met with the media, apologized, made it clear he would not be taking anymore questions on the matter and everyone on the team has now moved on to more important things like trying to win the NL East, but it probably won’t stop the media from continuing to hold on to this as this is click-bait material if you can come up with anything controversial.
I think all of us enjoy our favorite blogs, not only for the articles, but also for the various comments from wide and varied points of view and this is why I am writing. The incident with Harper and Papelbon has two definitive camps, at least that is how I read the comments. In the beginning, to be sure, the fans were upset, especially in the immediacy of the act and the moment. No one likes to see the teams favorite son get his head slammed against a wall. Especially by a hot head who just arrived in town and already carried a pretty big bag of issues from the Phillies. Add to that the dysfunction of a manager who was either playing out the string or just not in tune with what was going on in his teams dugout and it made the situation that much uglier.
The comments for the weeks and even months after the end of the season seemed one-sided like a line drawn in the dirt, and mostly anti-Papelbon. Many were convinced that Rizzo would be moving Papelbon at the earliest convenience and some wanted him gone no matter what the cost.
Some have vowed never to set foot in the park until Pap is gone. Others pointed out his difficult contract, complications with his limited no-trade clause, and the need to get value in return. This was clear into December that it would not be an easy task to trade Papelbon. I was in that camp that saw trading Papelbon as a tall order. I was also pretty positive that the players were not nearly as upset as the fans. Sure enough, Pap is still here and many fans darling, Drew Storen (who many fans had a love/hate relationship with), proved to be the more valuable/easy piece to move and gain a decent return.
Dusty greets Papelbon (By John Raoux / AP) pic.twitter.com/DxgxGlUz83
— Dan Steinberg (@dcsportsbog) February 21, 2016
Fast forward to pitchers and catchers reporting, and the Nationals had a press conference that Papelbon spoke at that I felt was not rehearsed, was genuine, and Papelbon issued a long apology to owners, teammates, and fans. Papelbon answered all the questions that were offered. Still some fans may hold a grudge, and some did not believe him or just have their mind made up not to ever support Papelbon no matter what his teammates have said or Papelbon himself. This is what I would like to address here. It is not my intention to change anyone’s mind, but I merely wanted to respond to several comments after the presser.
- One of the things that interested me was a comment that Pap did not seem to publicly apologize for the affect it had on the teams reputation or the affect it had on any players other than Bryce. As a coach, I had many quotes that I used with my teams and in fact had a board with a quote of the day that I wanted my student athletes to take a look at as they headed down into the locker room. One of my many favorites was That Which Does Not Kill You, Makes You Stronger, another was No One Can Make You Feel Inferior Without Your Consent. Believe me, this team and especially Harper is jeered and booed on a regular basis. If they let that, or negative reporting, affect their performance, they would not last long. The season was basically over when this happened, nothing that was written or discussed in major print, TV, radio, or even a blog would affect a professional baseball player and how they play the game.
- Now, was that fans impression of the teams reputation affected? Most definitely.
- Did that fan feel her/his teams reputation suffered? Most definitely.
- Did we get bad press? Of course.
- But did any Washington National’s player’s reputation get affected by what Pap did? With the exception of Papelbon, I sincerely doubt it. These are all athletes that are the best at what they do with strong egos and strong sense of self. I promise you that they were not affected then nor are they now.
Now as fans, you are affected, and again, I am not trying to change that. Be pissed, boo, do whatever you wish but understand that this was over probably the day after it happened with the players. I am betting there were 15 to 20 other incidents that took place in dugouts and clubhouses this past season. Most of the time players get in between the combatants before a blow can be delivered. That didn’t happen here and it was ugly. I just think that carrying this venom as a fan is not a healthy thing but if it is how you deal with it, then knock yourself out.
One last point and this is total speculation. Papelbon has to let this go totally. He can’t be thinking of anything but his performance on the mound. One great thing about closers is they have to have a very short memory. He will hear it from visiting fans for most of the year, it is a shame he will also hear it here. I am hopeful he will use it as motivation to do well. We will see.