I can understand the media wanting to make a mountain out of 1/10 a molehill, but I hope Red Sox fans are smarter than that.
On Thursday, there was this exchange between Papelbon and Jody McDonald of SIRIUS XM Radio:
McDonald: "If you couldn't work out a contract with the Red Sox before free agency comes up and you eventually become a free agent, is the Bronx ever a possibility?"That's it.
Papelbon: "Oh, of course. I mean, I think if we can't come to an agreement on terms here in a Red Sox uniform, I mean, I think that's pretty much the writing on the wall. If they can't come to terms with you they're letting you know that, 'Hey you know what? We can go somewhere else.' And I think it's the same way on the other side, 'Hey if ya'll can't come to an agreement with me then I can go somewhere else.' Not only in the Bronx, but anywhere. I think anywhere is a possibility. You always have to keep that in the back of your mind because you can't just be one-sided and think that, 'Oh I'm going to be in a Red Sox uniform my entire career.' Because nowadays that is very, very rare and hopefully we can because there's no question I would love to stay in a Boston Red Sox uniform but I have to do what's best for me and play in an atmosphere where I'm wanted and play on a team where I'm wanted and that's all I can really say about that, you know?"
What's the big deal?
Papelbon's comments can be boiled down to: "I want to play baseball after 2011."
If Bot and Boston cannot come to an agreement before the closer becomes a free agent after the 2011 season, Papelbon said that in all likelihood he would sign with one of the other 29 major league teams and keep pitching. He would prefer not to retire at age 31.
End of story.
Still, Papelbon felt he needed to spell out on Friday what should have been obvious to everyone in the first place:
It kind of (ticked) me off today because it made it seem like I wanted to go play for (the Yankees), which is nowhere even close, nowhere even in the ballpark of what I want to do. ...
I said I would go play for any team, but for me to go play for another team I'd have to be protected and my family would have to be happy and I'd have to be happy. Right now, that's here ... So why the (expletive) would I want to go play anywhere else? ...
I'm in a situation here, I'm playing for the best general manager and manager in the game of baseball and I've got a (expletive) World Series ring here, you know, so do I want to go play anywhere else? Hell no.