No, he's not a doctor, and he doesn't play one on the Red Sox. But Jonathan Papelbon gave a blistering interview in April's Esquire magazine, and absolutely pulls no punches when the subject of Manny Ramirez and the 2008 season came up.
"It just takes one guy to bring an entire team down, and that's exactly what was happening," Papelbon said, according to the magazine. "Once we saw that, we weren't afraid to get rid of him. It's like cancer. That's what he was. Cancer. He had to go. It [stunk], but that was the only scenario that was going to work. That was it for us."
No, he's a man not afraid to speak his mind, is he?
It's pretty clear to me that Manny had completely worn out his welcome by late last July, and the Red Sox play that month seemed to reflect that. But once Manny disappeared it was like a black cloud over the team passed. (And don't forget, the Sox had the second best record in baseball after July 31 to the end of the season.)
I'll admit that I am conflicted when this subject comes up. I absolutely appreciate everything Manny did for the Red Sox, being a key part of two World Series championships and being one of the most feared hitters of this generation. But what he did last season was deplorable, and has damaged his reputation, especially in Boston, the city he "suffered" so much in. (See the current quote at the top of this blog from the man himself.) So I am content to just let him go and move on.
But I'm sure many people on the inside have their opinions on him, and we certainly haven't heard the last on this subject.
Also in the Esquire article, we discover that the Red Sox aren't "protecting" the number 21 anymore:
(The Red Sox) also offered him the number 21, Roger Clemens’s old number, because they thought the favorable comparison might help Papelbon take to the idea. But the role didn’t sit right with him, and neither did the number.
So, the Sox aren't keeping that number retired any more. But still no one has worn it since The Texas Con Man left. Do you suppose that no one wants it?
And before I conclude, what's going on with Jon Lester? He reached a one-year contract agreement with the Red Sox the other day, and says he knows nothing about any five-year, $30 million deal that was reported last Sunday. I know the Red Sox are always tight-lipped about these things, but how come they didn't deny the other day an extension with Lester was reached? Very curious...