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I'm sorry ... What was Papelbon saying about Manny and cancer?

Big League Stew

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Like every other American male with a taste for the finer things in life, I enjoy the monthly arrival of my Esquire subscription. As soon as I hear it fall through the mail slot, I put on my best robe, pour myself a nice scotch and then read the publication from cover to cover. I stop only to wonder if the same person who gave Barry Sonnenfeld a tech column is the same person who believes it's a good idea to spend $600 on a necktie.

Anyway, the April issue arrived on Monday and I immediately saw that my man Chris Jones (he wrote the cover blurb for Wrigleyworld) had penned a back-of-the-book piece on Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon. Since I hadn't seen anything on the article floating around the blogosphere, I decided I should pay special attention for any blogworthy bits.

And so I did.

But while I enjoyed the column despite Jones' obvious restraint in deciding not to label Paps as a full-blown maniac, nothing really struck me out of the ordinary. It wasn't until today that I saw the part where Papelbon likened Manny Ramirez to cancer was working its way into a full-blown controversy, complete with the closer backing up his words, Terry Francona tsk-tsking the comments and Manny just shrugging the whole thing off.

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Here's part of what Papelbon said in Esquire:

"For him not to be on the same page as the rest of the team was a killer, man! It just takes one guy to bring an entire team down, and that's exactly what was happening.

"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 sucked, but that was the only scenario that was going to work. That was it for us. And after, you could feel it in the air in the clubhouse. We got Jason Bay — Johnny Ballgame, plays the game right, plays through broken knees, runs out every ground ball — and it was like a breath of fresh air, man! Awesome! No question."

Now, I distinctly remember that part of the article.

And in retrospect, I have to admit that it isn't every day that a player compares a teammate — former or otherwise, superstar or scrub — to a deadly disease.

Still, I remember that my brain glazed over when Papelbon went into that whole spiel and I assume that happened for a number of reasons. For one, I think the whole "clubhouse cancer" cliche has been overused at this point and doesn't carry the same kind of shocking insult that it once did. Last week I saw a guy fall off his motorcycle and then realized only later that it didn't shock me as much as it should have.

For another, I'm more likely to attach significance to the babbling of a baby than I am the extended life thoughts of one Mr. Jonathan Papelbon.

Finally, it seems that the whole Boston still being obsessed with Manny was so 2008. I thought we were past breathlessly hanging on every Beantown reaction to something that was happening 3,000 miles away in Mannywood. (Or at least we should be.)

So I guess, in the end, I understand why the story-hungry spring training media has made this an issue. The Manny Ramirez + Red Sox equation still attracts eyeballs, as does one goof lobbing insults at another goof.

But am I upset that my Esquire-reading self missed the opportunity to relay the Papelbon's comments first? Not a chance.

(Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go figure out how to build a wardrobe on "just" $5,000.)

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