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Quote of the Day: Jonathan Papelbon explains what it takes to close

May 16, 2012, 9:32 AM EDT

Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves Getty Images

Jonathan Papelbon was relaxed after yesterday’s game and spoke with Rob Bradford of WEEI.  Specifically, he talked about the fine art of closing:

And what about the idea of former bullpen-mate Alfredo Aceves taking up his former closers role with the Sox?

“I think he definitely can [be a closer]. He’s got [expletives] of steel,” Papelbon said. “That’s what it takes. You’ve got to have a big set of doberman [expletives] to close.”

Philosophical question 1: If you know exactly what the word is that you’re slapping the [expletive] tag on, do you still have to do it?  I do it too with little asterisks for Class-A profanity, but I still feel weird about it. Here, though, I think we can all agree that you can say “balls,” right?

Philosophical question 2: When a closer can no longer close, is it because he’s been neutered?

  1. illcomm - May 16, 2012 at 9:37 AM


    • heyblueyoustink - May 16, 2012 at 10:56 AM

      Apparently you’re carrying around a couple of rasins.

  2. diehardcubbiefan4life - May 16, 2012 at 9:42 AM

    Thumbs me down all you want but in a regular save opportunity, all you need is a good reliever. Today we see managers stick so long with their closers even though he’s struggling, that he costs his team multiple wins just to see him get the “save.” (See Marmol,Carlos and Bell, Heath) Any good reliever can work a scoreless inning. And plus, the “save” extends to a run lead. I think the “closer” role is way overrated. The only time you need “[expletives] of steel”, is when the tying run is on base in a crucial game.

    • Utley's Hair - May 16, 2012 at 10:35 AM

      1.) I’ll thumbs down you, since, you know, you told me to.
      2.) Does that mean that Chad “Four Blown Saves Already” Qualls isn’t a good reliever?

      • chadjones27 - May 16, 2012 at 10:41 AM

        2) No, the answer to why Chad Qualls isn’t a good reliever is because he just plain sucks. He’s like a pitching machine out there.

  3. RedHeadedBastard - May 16, 2012 at 9:45 AM

    So that’s why Mark Wohlers went down hill; His [Expletives] were missing!

  4. mybrunoblog - May 16, 2012 at 9:52 AM

    Papelbon went on to say ” Yes Aceves has balls of steel. I’ve seen them. They’re real and they’re spectacular”

  5. lembeck4 - May 16, 2012 at 10:00 AM

    I’m amazed @dobermanballs has not popped up on twitter yet……

  6. 14thinningstretch - May 16, 2012 at 10:01 AM

    This is why Duke Nukem is obviously the greatest closer of all time.

  7. Gobias Industries - May 16, 2012 at 10:02 AM

    I never thought I’d say this, but Papelbon makes a good point. I had a vasectomy last year. Next day I tried to close a jar of peanut butter. Failed miserably. Dropped the jar and got a little bit on my shoe. Had to give my son the jar so he could close it. You know how humiliating that is?

    • ptfu - May 16, 2012 at 10:47 AM

      Maybe you need your son to close, but can you work your way back to keeping the hold?

  8. HitsDingers - May 16, 2012 at 10:04 AM

    Louis CK has a bit about how rude it is to use an expletive because it just makes the reader say/think the word instead of the broadcaster. But I think he was talking about the N-word. See, I just made you think something racist.

  9. Charles Gates - May 16, 2012 at 10:06 AM

    Motion to refer to the count as [Expletives] and strikes.

    • Utley's Hair - May 16, 2012 at 10:37 AM


  10. ajcardsfan - May 16, 2012 at 10:19 AM

    Question for you Craig, do they have be big doberman balls, or will any big pair of dog testicles work? If that’s the case I’d try to get balls like the English Bulldog in Van Wilder.

  11. bigleagues - May 16, 2012 at 10:27 AM

    I’m psyched! Apparently I can Close!

    Just last year I had a tragic accident and had a set of steel doberman balls installed as a prosthetic.

    Now I just need to learn how to harness their pendulating motion during my windup to my advantage.

  12. Ari Collins - May 16, 2012 at 10:33 AM

    Reminds me of the time that John Donovan self-censored it as, “@*#% the heck?” Leading Ken Tremendous to theorize that it must be the F-word he was censoring, leading in turn to a fun way to swear that baseball geeks still use on occasion.

    • Utley's Hair - May 16, 2012 at 10:37 AM

      Ari! Welcome back.

      • Ari Collins - May 16, 2012 at 11:37 AM

        Thanks! I’ve been trying to stay busy enough not to comment here all the time. Because, man, sports blog commenting can take up an awful lot of your time.

        Still read HBT regularly, though, and I’ll occasionally (hopefully) drop in for a comment or two.

        Meanwhile, at least your team’s doing slightly better than mine!

  13. chadjones27 - May 16, 2012 at 10:39 AM

    Instead of [expletives], could he have used “testicular fortitude?”

  14. snowbirdgothic - May 16, 2012 at 10:45 AM

    Of course, those doberman balls have to come from somewhere, leading one to the inevitable conclusion that whichever dog donated his to Aceves is now doomed to a life of middle relief.

    Boy, that next Air Bud movie is going to suck.

  15. protectthishouse54 - May 16, 2012 at 11:13 AM

    Whenever you say something to make yourself sound cool, you end up sounding like a jackass. Someone should tell that to Papelbon.

    • ame123 - May 16, 2012 at 11:29 AM

      don’t think he really cares if you don’t think he’s cool.

  16. pxeeks - May 16, 2012 at 11:39 AM

    Where we’re u last night when the Phillies blew a save?? Not out there in the 9th!!?! You’re still the best closer in the game though!

    • Utley's Hair - May 16, 2012 at 11:43 AM

      The Phightins didn’t blow a save. Chad “Effing” Qualls blew the save. Of course, it didn’t help that Pence tried to um…do…something with that ball, allowing the tying run to cross, but it was all on Qualls.

  17. heynerdlinger - May 16, 2012 at 12:24 PM

    I’ll go with Betty White: “Why do people say ‘Grow some balls’? Balls are weak and sensitive. If you really want to be tough, grow a vagina. Those things can take a beating!”

  18. stlouis1baseball - May 16, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    Answer #1:
    Yes…hell yes…we can say “balls.”
    Answer #2:
    When a closer can no longer close it’s because he has reached the point of having saggy, old man balls that interfere with his windup, delivery and follow through.

  19. stlouis1baseball - May 16, 2012 at 1:38 PM

    Question: Does anyone else find it curious that Papelbon referred to a Doberman while trying to illustrate a dog with big balls? Personally, when I think of a canine with big balls I don’t immediately think of a Doberman. Sure…Doberman’s are high strung and can sometimes be ferocious. Especially, Higgins’ Dobermans on Magnum P.I. But when I think of “big balled” canines I think…Rottweiler, German Shepard or possibly Pit Bull.

  20. Jack Marshall - May 16, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    If the speaker used a vulgarity or expletive and the context makes it obvious what, then I think writers should respect readers enough to use the actual words, and that goes for “f***k”, “N-word”, and everything else. While we’re at it, let’s stop bleeping obvious words from movies, so I don’t have to hear Pacino say “Forget you!” a million times during “Scarface.”

    • Utley's Hair - May 16, 2012 at 3:04 PM

      So Ferris can now stop suggesting that we could get a diamond by shoving a lump of coal in Cameron’s fist?

      • Jack Marshall - May 16, 2012 at 3:28 PM


      • sdbunting - May 16, 2012 at 8:54 PM

        Melon farmers!

  21. xmatt0926x - May 16, 2012 at 2:50 PM

    I guess i’ll stay a part of the thumbed-down club of people who still think it does take something special to be a closer. It seems that the new theory is that you can just throw any decent reliever out there and he can do the job just fine, but I don’t buy it, at least not for the long haul. Maybe I would agree with that for the lower stress save where the team is up 2 or 3 runs but if you get a guy or two on base in a tight game I still believe that not just any “good” reliever can get through the stress of that situation time and time again.

  22. cleverbob - May 16, 2012 at 4:25 PM

    Philosophical question 2: When a closer can no longer close, is it because he’s been neutered?


    Yes. However, if you get neuticle implants you can hang on for a few more years as an 8th inning setup man.

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