When I began blogging, I realized early on that I had to decide on what my blog content would be.Â Because the original name of my blog was “Red Sox Chick”, I received a lot of emails from people claiming to have gossip about players and feeling as if they were doing me a favor by passing it along.Â Apparently folks thought a “chick” would be happy to share in the gossip.
I go out of my way to not post gossip and to not create scenarios when I have no earthly clue what is going on in a particular instance.Â Tonight I change my position on that.Â I don’t have gossip but I’m going out onÂ a limb and guessing that there is something more to Jonathan Papelbon’s troubles this season than just faulty mechanics.
I genuinely can’t believe some of the awful, hurtful, hateful things that so-called fans have been writing about Jonathan Papelbon.Â The kicker is, the media is feeding right into it.Â So here’s my question:
How do we know that Paps’ issues are all related to baseball and his deteriorating skills?Â Back in June, Papelbon spent 5 days away from the team on bereavement leave for something Tito called “a personal, serious, issue”.Â Â It was never reported what the issue was and once he came back it was dropped.Â I refuse to believe the members of the media don’t know what was going on.Â They love to brag that they are “insiders” and have all the information the fans could need or want.Â Now I don’t want the media revealing what the deal was back in June.Â I want the media to remember that it’s possible Papelbon had something pretty bad happen thisÂ year and I don’t care what your job is or how much money you make sometimes it is difficult to just go back to normal.
In 2002 I had a family tragedy that affected me deeply even though it didn’t affect me physically.Â Even after all was settled it took me an awfully long time to get back to my “old” self and, truthfully, I’m really NOT my old self.Â I changed.Â Some of the changes were good and some weren’t.Â I have no idea what Papelbon went through this year but I find it unfair that so many are so eager to run him out on a rail so quickly.Â Especially when many of those people know that he went through something bad enough to keep him away from the team for a week.Â Just because they were good enough to keep the reasons why out of the public doesn’t mean they should forget that maybe a little compassion wouldn’t kill them.
Does it suck that Papelbon has seven blown saves?Â Of course it does.Â I feel just awful for the folks sitting at Fenway today with the rightful anticipation of hearing “Dirty Water” only to be dealt the blow they got.Â And I’ve lived that…last year in the playoffs against the Angels…it isn’t something you get over easily.Â But even last year, even without the possible personal tragedy in his season, after the initial shock wore off one thing stood out:Â Papelbon is a man.Â He’s a person just like anyone else.Â He failed at his job today and he’s failed before.Â He’ll fail again.Â But he doesn’t want to fail, doesn’t plan to fail, and certainly doesn’t deserve to be crucified for failing (especially given he succeeds much more than he fails).
I’ve used this argument before and was told by one particularly venomous Papelbon hater that it wasn’t the job of the fans to consider that the players are people whose feelings get hurt.Â He argued that for the money they make and for the fame their jobs afford them, they should expect that sports fandoms are based solely on “What have you done for me lately” and that “real” fans don’t worry about the players as people, they only focus on how good a player performs and if he doesn’t perform well he doesn’t deserve fans.Â I’ve written thousands of words about how vehemently I disagree with this attitude.Â I get that others feel the same way this fan does and think that my version of fandom is ridiculous…and I really don’t care.
I was away and missed every game this weekend.Â I got home just as today’s game was ending and the first thing I did was put in some spam filters for the comments section in anticipation of some nasty comments.Â So far, the filter has caught four comments (all from different ip addresses) calling Papelbon “an asshole”, “a f***ing pr**k” and some words that I refuse to print here even edited.Â I’m not about to tell people it’s “only a game” because for the love of God I spend the majority of my free time reading or writing about it or watching it…it’s a bit more than a game to me and I know it’s more than a game to a good many people.Â I just think that folks can be crazy-ass passionate about the game without turning into hateful people.
Love the game, folks, but remember that it is actual men and not unfeeling robots who play it.