On June 28th, 2015 Jon Papelbon was traded to the Washington Nationals. The fiery and short-tempered closer was headed to another National League East.
For many Phillies fans this was great news, Papelbon, the latter end of his massive $50 million contract, and his attitude were leaving Philadelphia.
Almost as soon as Papelbon was signed fans were calling his contract a mistake, and in some respects it was, but Papelbon was still a valuable member of the organization while he was there.
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In four years Papelbon stayed healthy, he became the Phillies’ all-time saves leader, he didn’t get into trouble off the field, and never did he get implicated in some sort of PED scandal.
In fact, some of his numbers were close to his numbers when he was with the Red Sox. With a lower ERA and a higher strikeout to walk ratio, it seems that Papelbon was actually excellent for the Phillies. So aside from the contract, what is the Phillies fans' qualm with Papelbon?
His attitude. While there was nothing off the field, Papelbon received aseven game suspension for making an obscene gesture towards a fan and this, among other things, didn’t make Papelbon a fan favorite. Papelbon didn’t like Philly much either.
As Papelbon returns to Philadelphia this week, he made that more clear. In short, before Monday’s series opener Papelbon said that he was one of few that wanted to win, and the Phillies’ woes were the fault of everyone, but him. Papelbon said:
“I don’t know if I got a bad rap here or whatever, but I can promise you I was far (from) the bad guy on this team. I was one of the few that wanted to actually win and I was one of the few that competed and posted up every day.”
While Papelbon may not have had the best rep among the fans in Philly, what he was for the team, though not what they expected, was better than what many people expect and give him credit for.