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Jonathan Papelbon on Phillies: “I was one of the few that wanted to actually win”

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Jonathan Papelbon is back in Philadelphia today for the first time since he was traded to the Nationals on July 28. According to Mark Zuckerman of CSNMA.com, Papelbon spoke with reporters for “roughly nine minutes” this afternoon before a Nationals PR official cut off the interview. Not surprisingly, he didn’t hold anything back.

Here’s Papelbon’s response when he was asked whether he has any regrets about how he handled the end of his tenure with the Phillies:

“No, if I say something, I mean it. It feels from the heart. I’m not going to take anything back that I’ve ever said or did, because I believe that it’s right. I don’t know if I got a bad rap here or whatever, but I can promise you I was by far (from) the bad guy on this team. I was one of the few that wanted to actually win, and I was one of the few that competed and posted up every day. Other than that, that’s all I view an athlete or a baseball player. I don’t have any regrets, no.”

Yes, wanting to win was the Phillies’ issue, not an abject lack of talent. Papelbon eventually backtracked a bit, saying that it was an organizational approach. In other words, they are rebuilding. Papelbon seemingly referenced some brutally honest (and realistic) comments from Phillies CEO Pat Gillick last winter.

“I think the blame goes all the way from the front office all the way down to the bat boy. When you don’t have an organization that wants to win, it’s pretty evident and they go out and publicly say: ‘We’re not going to win.’ So, what more? You know what I mean?”

Papelbon signed a four-year, $50 million contract with the Phillies in November of 2011. He posted a 2.31 ERA and 123 saves during his time in Philadelphia and made two All-Star teams.

Umpire Cory Blaser made two atrocious calls in the top of the 11th inning

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The Astros walked off 3-2 winners in the bottom of the 11th inning of ALCS Game 2 against the Yankees. Carlos Correa struck the winning blow, sending a first-pitch fastball from J.A. Happ over the fence in right field at Minute Maid Park, ending nearly five hours of baseball on Sunday night.

Correa’s heroics were precipitated by two highly questionable calls by home plate umpire Cory Blaser in the top half of the 11th.

Astros reliever Joe Smith walked Edwin Encarnación with two outs, prompting manager A.J. Hinch to bring in Ryan Pressly. Pressly, however, served up a single to left field to Brett Gardner, putting runners on first and second with two outs. Hinch again came out to the mound, this time bringing Josh James to face power-hitting catcher Gary Sánchez.

James and Sánchez had an epic battle. Sánchez fell behind 0-2 on a couple of foul balls, proceeded to foul off five of the next six pitches. On the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Sánchez appeared to swing and miss at an 87 MPH slider in the dirt for strike three and the final out of the inning. However, Blaser ruled that Sánchez tipped the ball, extending the at-bat. Replays showed clearly that Sánchez did not make contact at all with the pitch. James then threw a 99 MPH fastball several inches off the plate outside that Blaser called for strike three. Sánchez, who shouldn’t have seen a 10th pitch, was upset at what appeared to be a make-up call.

The rest, as they say, is history. One pitch later, the Astros evened up the ALCS at one game apiece. Obviously, Blaser’s mistakes in a way cancel each other out, and neither of them caused Happ to throw a poorly located fastball to Correa. It is postseason baseball, however, and umpires are as much under the microscope as the players and managers. Those were two particularly atrocious judgments by Blaser.