Jonathan Papelbon says he tells it like it is. He holds nothing back and lets people know how he feels about them.
"I'm not afraid to say it," said the Red Sox closer. "If it's the truth and I believe it, I'll say it."
Papelbon's penchant for "keeping it real" was called out Thursday when an Esquire interview with him came out in which he called former teammate Manny Ramirez a "cancer" and that he was bringing down the Red Sox before he was traded to the Dodgers.
"We weren't afraid to get rid of him. It's like cancer," said Papelbon in the interview. "That's what he was. Cancer. He had to go."
Now there's nothing wrong with Papelbon saying that if he had also said that to Ramirez's face while they were teammates -- but he didn't. He waited until Ramirez was in Los Angeles and he was sitting down privately with a reporter for an interview in Boston. Under those conditions, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Papelbon wasn't "afraid to say it."
It's like waiting for someone you don't like to leave the room before you trash him behind his back. Only this time Papelbon didn't just wait for Ramirez to leave the clubhouse, he waited until he was about 3,000 miles away before he said what was on his mind.
Although Papelbon said he never actually confronted Ramirez about his actions, he said that he wouldn't mind confronting his current teammates if they got out of line.
"Even a guy like me, just heading into my fourth year in the big leagues - if David Ortiz gets a little, you know - I'll tell him what's up! I'm not afraid to do that," said Papelbon. "I'm not afraid to put him in his place, because I think everybody needs that."
I'm sure Ortiz must have been thrilled to hear a 28-year-old closer, who spends most of the game grabbing his crotch, brag that he isn't afraid to put him in his place and tell him what's up.
Papelbon may be a fearless closer but he comes off as anything but fearless in ripping Ramirez long after he left while bragging that he puts other veteran players in their place. Listening to him talk tough when he's alone with a reporter, after he was silent in the clubhouse last year, is almost as laughable as watching Michael Bolton in the open sequence of Office Space.
There's no question that Ramirez wore out his welcome in Boston, he even admits as much. But if you're going to be a supposed leader who isn't afraid to assert yourself in the clubhouse, you handle a cancerous player face-to-face while they are on the team. You don't wait until the cancer has been removed to start speaking your mind. At that point, it becomes as pointless and ridiculous as bragging that you aren't afraid to talk behind someone's back.