I’ve written on a number of occasions that no one really knows anyone; at least not that well. The idea is that there is often more than meets the eye when it comes to people who we know primarily via their athletic exploits. They have entire lives away from the field, and we only see the little parts of that they want us to see. Or, in the case of those not blessed with good P.R. skills and good judgment, those parts of it they don’t want us to see. In no event, however, can we as fans know an athlete too well.
But then I read stuff like this story from John Tomase in today’s Boston Herald and I think: “Really? Jonathan Papelbon is a complex character? There’s more to him than meets the eye?”
He makes the Dos Equis Most Interesting Man in the World look like a monk. He strikes equal fear in opponents and teammates. He combines the terror of Jaws with the mystery of Nessie. He is Cinco Ocho. And he is the Sphinx, the pyramids, a column on Easter Island — an enigma that is oft seen, but little understood.
OK. I don’t know Jonathan Papelbon. Never met the guy. I can’t say at all that there’s not more depth to this guy than the fist-pumping, jig-dancing dude we see closing Red Sox games. I’ll take Tomase’s word for it.
But I am skeptical. It’s OK to be skeptical, right?
Because of course he did.
It wasn’t just his first at bat, but it was his first pitch. It came off of John Kilichowski, an 11th round draft pick of the St. Louis Cardinals out of Vanderbilt. The ball went out to left center, off the bat of the lefty Tebow.
Next time, meat, throw him a breaking ball.
The other night, Blue Jays reliever Joaquin Benoit needed help getting off the field after the second benches-clearing incident with the Yankees. It was later revealed that Benoit tore a calf muscle during the fracas, ending his season.
Yesterday he pointed the finger at just about everyone else for the incidents like the one that led to his injury. Hitters specifically. From The Star:
“I believe as pitchers we’re entitled to use the whole plate and pitch in if that’s the way we’re going to succeed,” Benoit said. “I believe that right now baseball is taking things so far that in some situations most hitters believe that they can’t be brushed out. Some teams take it personally.”
That “take it personally” line is interesting coming from Benoit as, in this instance, it seemed pretty clear that the whole plunking exchange which led to his injury started because Josh Donaldson took an inside pitch that did not seem to be a purpose pitch at all, too personally.
Did Benoit take a veiled swipe at his teammate here? If so, that’s pretty notable. If not it’s notable in another way, right? As it suggests that Benoit believes it’s OK for his teammates to take issue with inside pitches but anyone else who does is part of the problem?
Which is it, Joaquin?