The MLB All-Star Game served as a true homage to the talent that was in the past, and currently is, performing at the highest levels of the game today. Legends such as Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Johnny Bench, and even Pete Rose were honored before the game. After the former greats exited the field, the current stars of the game were honored.
All the players lined up for their respective leagues, representing their respective teams. Each player’s name was called, allowing fans to show their appreciation through thunderous applause, or if you were a Cardinal, ex-Cardinal, or Ryan Braun, a chorus of boos.
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One of those current stars was the Phillies’ lone All-Star Game representative, closer Jonathan Papelbon. When his name was called, he simply tipped his Phillies cap respectfully instead of yelling “Trade me Ruben!” into the camera, believe it or not.
Unfortunately for Papelbon, he did not get a chance to pitch in the actual game, marking the first time since Curt Schilling was the club’s lone rep back in 1998 that a Phillies player did not appear in the Midsummer Classic.
“I kind of expected to pitch, you know?” Papelbon said in an interview with Philly.com’s Jake Kaplan. “I think I have more All-Star Games than I think everybody in here,” he said as he glanced around the NL clubhouse.
“Pap is a very good pitcher, he doesn’t know anything about the front office.” ~ Amaro
The 34-year-old had pitched in four of his five previous All-Star games. The only other time he didn’t play came back in 2006, in his rookie season.
On Monday, Papelbon made comments regarding the Phillies’ front office when he addressed the media prior to the start of the Home Run Derby.
“It’s time to you-know-what or get off the pot,” the righthander said in regards to the Phillies’ attempt to trade him by the July 31 deadline.
Papelbon also blamed the Phillies’ failure to make a move so far on their crowded front office.
“If so many people weren’t involved in the decision-making of the Phillies organization I think things could be happening quicker and easier. That’s just my opinion,” Papelon said.
On WIP yesterday morning, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. responded to Pap’s comments by saying that while “Pap is a very good pitcher, he doesn’t know anything about the front office.”
Papelbon has had a history of running his mouth since signing a four-year, $50 million deal back in 2012.
During the club’s season-opening series against the Red Sox, Papelbon told the Boston Globe that he didn’t “feel like a Phillie” and expressed his desire to play for his former team. Those comments came before the season got underway, and before the Red Sox found themselves in last place in the AL East. The Bosox had made enough moves in the off-season to merit themselves as legitimate playoff contenders. At only 6.5 games out of first place in the division, they still may be.
Now, Papelbon just wants to play meaningful baseball games. He wants to close out a game knowing that a Save is another step towards the postseason for his ball club. He knows that won’t happen in Philadelphia, which is why he wants out, and he wants out now.
Can you really blame him? He is arguably the best player on a team that is going nowhere. At age 34, he knows the clock is ticking on his Major League Baseball career.
When Papelbon signed the deal back in 2012, he thought he was joining a team that would make a run at their sixth consecutive division title. He was joining a team that had won a franchise-record 102 games the season prior. If Pap would’ve known he would be in this situation four years later, he would not have agreed to that contract. His passion for the game and desire to win wouldn’t allow it.
Controversial comments aside, Papelbon has been worth every penny of that $50 million contract from a numbers standpoint. He is in the midst of one of his best overall seasons, sporting a minuscule 1.60 ERA with 14 saves in 14 opportunities.
In 231.2 innings-pitched with the Phillies, Pap has a 2.33 ERA, and 247 strikeouts. He is the Phillies’ all-time leader in saves with 120, and will go down as the best closer in the franchise’s history when he is finished.
Love him or hate him, Papelbon has gotten it done on the field for the Phillies. His abrasiveness and overall colorful personality may irk fans, but his numbers speak for themselves. If and when the Phillies are able to trade the veteran, their bullpen will inevitably suffer a huge blow.