Red Sox

Boston’s Booing Of Jonathan Papelbon Is Really A Simple Matter

By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
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Jonathan Papelbon (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Jonathan Papelbon (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) — Is it really this complicated, folks?

On Tuesday night, Jonathan Papelbon made the familiar jog from right field (albeit a few foot over from his normal spot) to the mound at Fenway Park, a path he had blazed more than 200 times in his career. This time was different, though, as he was donning a Phillies uniform and was trying to shut down the Red Sox in the ninth, rather than preserving a Boston win.

And the home crowd booed. A lot.

Even before Papelbon sent Jonny Gomes, Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz down in order, questioning of just how the fans could boo Papelbon began.

“Don’t these idiot fans know how great Papelbon was for them?”

“What did Papelbon ever do wrong to Boston?”

“The Red Sox never wanted to sign him to a long-term deal, so why boo him?”

Logically, all of those questions are fair, and the answers are all obvious. But none of them have anything to do with why Papelbon was booed.

Papelbon was booed because he is on the other team, and he was entering the game to try to beat the home team. The Boston crowd, as you might expect, didn’t want to see that happen, so they booed. They wanted Papelbon to fail so that the Red Sox could win.

End of story.

And any outrage, feigned or authentic, about the booing is disingenuous or uninformed, because it overlooks the fact that during Monday night’s game, the Red Sox played a tribute video to Papelbon. The crowd enthusiastically cheered as a sign of thanks for Papelbon’s 226 saves and his role in winning the 2007 World Series. The fans showed their appreciation, and Papelbon gave a little salute to the crowd. The fans aren’t dumb, and they know how special Papelbon was during his Red Sox tenure, and they know the team didn’t even really want to sign him when he became a free agent, and they know that Papelbon’s comments about how smart Philly fans are compared to Boston fans was just Papelbon being Papelbon.

But when he entered the game Tuesday night, it was in a situation where he was called upon to prevent the Red Sox from winning. Fans want to see the Red Sox win, so they booed. They appreciate what the guy did for six years, but in that moment, they were hoping he would fail.

He didn’t, and the Phillies won.

Life goes on. Discussion about how Red Sox fans could have possibly booed should not.

Gresh & Zo discuss Papelbon getting booed in his return to Fenway.

Read more from Michael by clicking here, or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

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