Though he was born in Baton Rouge, Jonathan Papelbon always seemed to work hard to make Boston his home. The Red Sox closer, who will depart for the Philadelphia Phillies after reportedly agreeing to a roughly $50 million deal yesterday, provided a high-octane presence that will be missed on the field and in the city.
Papelbon was the unforgettable face of the 2007 World Series winning team, when his “Riverdance’’ performance set the standard for dance moves by a pitcher. Whenever he took the mound at Fenway, instead of being introduced with rumbling heavy metal chords like other closers, Papelbon entered to the tune of the Dropkick Murphys’ “Shipping Up to Boston.’’ And when the New York Daily News called him a bum, he had a copy framed. It’s noteworthy that, despite his free-spirited personality, Papelbon has not been implicated in any of the end-of-season clubhouse drama in 2011.
Few fair-minded fans would begrudge Papelbon the right to look elsewhere; he long made it clear that his whereabouts next season would be a “business decision.’’ If Red Sox fans are upset, it’s because he’s the one who’s leaving, and not certain other members of the 2011 pitching staff.