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Jonathan Papelbon on the Phillies clubhouse: “I haven’t seen any leadership”

Feb 22, 2013, 7:27 AM EDT

Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves Getty Images

You tend not to see much in the way of clubhouse drama in Philly. It’s a veteran-laden team with a manager whose teams have no real history of drama of any kind. So Jonathan Papelbon going on the radio and saying this is surprising to say the least:

Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon did not mince words this week when asked about what it is that his team lacks. “Since I’ve been here I haven’t seen any leadership,” Papelbon said.

He followed it up with vague comments about how the team has “more to lose than it has to prove” and about how he feels that he should have spoken up more than he did last year.

But really, the next time a relief pitcher is viewed as a team leader in a big league clubhouse will likely be the first time, and Papelbon likely knows that. As a result, it’s hard to see these comments as anything other than a criticism of Charlie Manuel, Jimmy Rollins and other Phillies vets.

  1. snowbirdgothic - Feb 22, 2013 at 7:35 AM

    Sounds like the ghost of Billy Wagner is still haunting the Phillies’ locker room.

    • DelawarePhilliesFan - Feb 22, 2013 at 8:43 AM

      Exactly what I thought – bring back Pat the Bat to set him straight

  2. rjmarrella - Feb 22, 2013 at 7:36 AM

    WTF Pappy?!

  3. rjmarrella - Feb 22, 2013 at 7:37 AM

    Wagner was forgotten in Philly before we even got rid of him… He was a whiner…

  4. 12strikes - Feb 22, 2013 at 7:39 AM

    “This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.”

    Just throw the ball Papelbon

    • 18thstreet - Feb 22, 2013 at 10:08 AM

      No bigger waste of money than a great closer on a crappy team.

      • irishphilly87 - Feb 22, 2013 at 11:05 AM

        What team do you root for 18thstreet? Crappy team? Utley was out more than half a year, Howard was out more than half a year. Halladay was out almost half a year. You take the 2 best hitters and best pitcher off any team and you’ll struggle. The Phillies bullpen also blew over 20 games last year. We still ended up 81-81.. You turn half the blown games from the bullpen into wins and thats 90 wins without Utley , Howard , and Halladay. I’d say thats pretty damn good. the year before that they won 102 games, so to call them horrible, you’re a total idiot and know nothing. Utley and Howard and Halladay will all be healthier this year. The offense should be better, Michael Young is replacing the always injured Placidio Polanco, Darin Ruf is going to provide some power for the corner outfield spots. Just watch and learn some more about something before you speak you little f**.

      • thebadguyswon - Feb 22, 2013 at 11:43 AM

        They are crappy. Hard to argue that. You don’t get a pass because of injuries, everyone has injuries. The baseball world is back in balance now that the Phillies SUCK again.

      • 18thstreet - Feb 22, 2013 at 11:47 AM

        I root for the Red Sox. They’re pretty crappy right now. I think we’d all agree. Having a terrific closer did not help very much in 2011.

        Maybe I’m underestimating the Phillies, but I don’t think so. Ryan Howard’s return won’t help much, will it? I mean, he stinks. And now he’s a year older. Chase Utley hasn’t played 120 games since 2009, so I don’t know why you expect to get 150+ All-Star level games out of him.

        Assuming your stats are correct, you’re saying the Phillies blew over 20 games even with a healthy relief ace. I don’t see how this helps your argument.

        And I believe f*** is spelled with three asterisks, not two.

      • 18thstreet - Feb 22, 2013 at 11:51 AM

        Ryan Howard, slugging percentage by year:

        I mean, what compensates for that? He’s not an especially useful player, certainly not at that salary. Sure, you can be excited that he’s returning — seems like a nice guy, face of the franchise, hits a lot of dingers — be he’s probably not going to help the Phillies win.

        Everyone knows that, right?

  5. mp4philly - Feb 22, 2013 at 7:40 AM

    You signed a 50+ million dollar deal and you want a leader. Shut up and do your job. Good day, sir.

    • DelawarePhilliesFan - Feb 22, 2013 at 8:48 AM

      Oh no, no, no! You are incorrect. He signed a contact for $50,000,058……because he is, afterall, number 58.

      Yes, that is correct, the guy who needed $58 extra in order to make the contract even more about him (as if it wasn’t already), is now lecturing others about leadership. Others that led historic September comeback, as opposed to historic September collapses.

      • kopy - Feb 22, 2013 at 1:33 PM

        I’d probably do the same thing to earmark a specific purchase.

        “I demand $4,000,011. I’m going to get a Grand Slam at Denny’s after this, on you, and I’m expecting to tip heavily.”

      • chadjones27 - Feb 22, 2013 at 4:53 PM

        I’d ask for a contract to be for $3,141,592.65 per year… because, hey, who doesn’t like pie?

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Feb 22, 2013 at 5:01 PM

        Close call – but I think you needed the humor font there….someone is going rip you for saying Papelbon didn’t deserve more then $3.1 mil

  6. 2077james - Feb 22, 2013 at 7:48 AM

    Don’t know if it’s just me but Papelbon always comes across as a bit of a doofus. Like he opens his mouth and his brain isn’t quick enough to keep up with the words coming out.

    • aceshigh11 - Feb 22, 2013 at 11:27 AM

      Gee, ya think?

      He’s been proving he’s a doofus for 5-6 years. I loved him while he was in Boston, but he needs to keep his mouth shut unless he’s pitching like Mariano on a regular basis.

      Otherwise, he sounds foolish.

  7. unclemosesgreen - Feb 22, 2013 at 7:52 AM

    Typical Philly media over-reporting a non-story. Guy just repeated what he heard Paps saying to the mirror. Again, I blame the media.

  8. ctony1216 - Feb 22, 2013 at 8:02 AM

    If your closer, or any major player, starts publicly complaining about a leadership problem on the team, you have a leadership problem on the team. I think injuries to key guys might have had something to do with it, but it’s there.

    • chadjones27 - Feb 22, 2013 at 8:13 AM

      Is this the next excuse for everything? “…injuries to key guys.”
      Didn’t win the division? Injuries to key guys might have something to do with it
      No leadership? Injuries to key guys might have something to do with it
      Can’t hit left handers? Injuries to key guys might have something to do with it
      Manager shouln’t have called for the bunt? Injuries to key guys might have something to do with it

      • ctony1216 - Feb 22, 2013 at 8:48 AM

        If your key guys aren’t in the locker room, it’s tough for them to lead. Or, if they can’t do the stuff they normally do with their teammates to prepare themselves for games — running, lifting, watching film, throwing sides, talking strategy, etc. — it’s tough for them to lead. That’s why injuries might have been a factor.

        Guys who win championships know that it’s the preparation and work off the field, and the focus and effort every game, that makes you a winner. They live that every day, and create that expectation among their teammates, and it rubs off on everyone.

        It’s corny and not very pithy, but it’s true.

      • ctony1216 - Feb 22, 2013 at 9:03 AM

        One example: Jason Varitek. The Red Sox were a different team when he was leading them, and that’s according to his teammates:

        And that type of leadership is what Papelbon might be referring to.

      • 18thstreet - Feb 22, 2013 at 3:24 PM

        Jason Varitek was there in 2004, and he was there in 2011. His leadership skills presumably improved during the intervening years.

  9. stackers1 - Feb 22, 2013 at 8:04 AM

    He never struck me as a doofus. A douche, but not a doofus.

    • drewzducks - Feb 22, 2013 at 11:42 AM

      A douchefus ?

  10. heyblueyoustink - Feb 22, 2013 at 8:05 AM

    A closer said something contraversial and edgy? You don’t say? I also hear the sun rose today, motorized carriages are popular, and alphabet soup has letters in it if you look close enough.

  11. greymares - Feb 22, 2013 at 8:10 AM

    somebody explain to me what a leader on a BASEBALL team does. is he a cheerleader? is he a coach like person? does he say grace at the post game meal? played more than 40 seasons of baseball/softball and never saw a leader other than the manager.

    • Charles Gates - Feb 22, 2013 at 8:19 AM

      They provide old school journalists something to write about in order to meet deadline.

    • heyblueyoustink - Feb 22, 2013 at 8:21 AM

      He’s like Chipper Jones. Wins one championship in a long career sandwiched by a bunch of team failure to win World Series trophies but stays low key.

    • irishphilly87 - Feb 22, 2013 at 11:08 AM

      Leadership in baseball is leading by example. You’re telling me Chase Utley, and Roy Halladay, and Cliff Lee dont lead by example?

  12. cktai - Feb 22, 2013 at 8:19 AM

    But I thought Young’s intangibles were so strong, they retroactively provided leadership to the 2012 Phillies.

  13. BigBeachBall - Feb 22, 2013 at 8:20 AM

    Anyone here want to buy some hgh? If you buy now, ill throw in a signed baseball from mark mcguire….

  14. chacochicken - Feb 22, 2013 at 8:24 AM

    You’re missing his next line…”and so, in conclusion, I would like to be traded to a team with great leadership also happens to be a contender in a nicer city.”

  15. coryfor3 - Feb 22, 2013 at 8:26 AM

    Whaaat? A new MLB story? But it seems like there was one posted yesterday.

  16. delsj - Feb 22, 2013 at 8:36 AM

    I didn’t even know reported sports. Papelbon was speaking to Mandy Housenick of the Allentown Morning Call as reported by Eliot Shorr-Parks on That is some damn fine trolling to find that little nugget, Craigie :)

    Are people surprised by Papelbon’s comments or that he actually kept his mouth shut for over a year?

  17. juade - Feb 22, 2013 at 8:39 AM

    “Leadership Issues”. It’s 2013’s “Best Shape Of My Life” tagline!

  18. takavl - Feb 22, 2013 at 8:42 AM

    (places empty case of beer over head, i.e. “The Unknown Closer,” cues up tune on the Papelphone) —

    “Shipping out of Philly, whoa oh ohhhh…”

  19. Cereal - Feb 22, 2013 at 8:50 AM

    So step up ya’ selfish roid head

  20. kyzslew77 - Feb 22, 2013 at 9:07 AM


    The best part about the Phillies fans that come around here complaining about Craig (surprised there are none in this thread yet!) is they don’t seem to understand that EVERYONE outside of eastern PA, Delaware and south Jersey hates the Phillies.

    • cktai - Feb 22, 2013 at 9:14 AM

      Hi, I’m a Philly fan from outside of your selected area.

      • kyzslew77 - Feb 22, 2013 at 9:29 AM

        Sorry to hear that. I encourage you to support your local team instead, or if you’re from a place with no nearby MLB team like Montana or Alaska, to choose literally any team other than the Phillies. Even the Red Sox or Yankees would be slightly more acceptable choices.

      • cktai - Feb 22, 2013 at 11:09 AM

        meh, I already support my local team (WSB Apeldoorn), heck I even support my previous local team (AHC Quick, oldest team in Europe).

  21. Kevin S. - Feb 22, 2013 at 9:13 AM

    “But really, the next time a relief pitcher is viewed as a team leader in a big league clubhouse will likely be the first time,”

    Has Mo just completely transcended relieverdom now?

    • Joe - Feb 22, 2013 at 9:54 AM

      Craig has managed to simultaneously troll Phillies fans and Yankees fans. Nice work.

  22. kaladin69 - Feb 22, 2013 at 9:40 AM

    Relief pichers have never been MLB clubhouse leaders? What about Mo Rivera?

  23. historiophiliac - Feb 22, 2013 at 9:42 AM

    FYI, this post has been up for a couple of hours now and it already has more comments on it than a similar post about the Tigers (Dotel/Cabrera) from a couple of days ago.

  24. randygnyc - Feb 22, 2013 at 9:46 AM

    “It’s a veteran-laden team with a manager whose teams have no real history”.

    Fixed your second sentence. The phillies fluked into their most recent WS win. It’s unlikely to happen again in our lifetimes.

    • xmatt0926x - Feb 22, 2013 at 11:44 AM

      Of course they did Randy. It’s funny. All these years all we ever hear is Yankee and Red Sox fans discount any team that does well if they haven’t had to go through the big , bad AL East. Championships don’t count when they are won against someone who isn’t from the AL East. Then a extremely talented team in that AL East runs through the division, runs through the playoffs (and why not? after all, they are from the AL East. They are battle tested!!), gets to the World Series and then gets beat in 5 games and supposedly it was all just a fluke. Yeah, that makes sense. Seriously, grow up and stop acting like a child. Were the Phillies a great team that year? Probably not. They were good enough to get there, run through the playoffs, get to the World Series and again, beat that battle tested AL East team. Ohh, and then get to the World Series again the following year, win 5 divisions in a row. Yeah, a fluke they were!

  25. mugzy10 - Feb 22, 2013 at 9:51 AM

    I agree 100% with Pap. No one on this tean stepped up when the main players were out hurt. Rollins acts like a leader however he certianly dont lead by example. When jimmy jogs out a ground ball who gets in his face…no one. The only person that got in the face of another player and demanded more was Cliff Lee to Shane Victorino. Shane jogged after a fly ball and dropped it. That play started a huge inning and Cliff was pulled and lost the game. We need more players like Cliff to call out the players and stink up the game. As soon as all the so called leaders got their big pay day, that was the beginning of the end for this team. This team is in trouble because the money they have tied up for old injury prone players. It going to be a rough 2-3 years.

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