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Far Be It from Me To Agree with Jonathan Papelbon...

Mike SalernoCorrespondent IMarch 13, 2009

(Photo by Steven Senne / AP)

...but that was awesome.

I can't help but applaud the Red Sox' oft-moronic version of Michael Flatley for his comments about Manny Ramirez in his interview with the April edition of Esquire magazine:

"Manny was tough for us. You have somebody like him, you know at any point in the ballgame, he can dictate the outcome of the game. And 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. 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."

A cancer. Wow. I could not agree more. I'm just shocked someone in that clubhouse finally had the guts to say what their front office has been alluding to for years.

Now, normally, I hate Papelbon. And for a die-hard Yankee fan, what's not to hate? His overbearing attitude, his outstanding fastball, and Red Sox fans' adamant claims that he belongs in the same sentence as Mariano Rivera. But this is the second time I am taken back by Papelbon's comments, rather than his devastating splitter.

Last summer, in the days before the biggest All-Star celebration in sports history in the Bronx, Papelbon deferred what would be a potential ninth inning save opportunity to Rivera. Despite asserting the fact that if he were managing the game that he would close, he and AL manager Terry Francona decided to give the spot to Mo should it arise, also known as the right thing to do.

For any member of the New York media to take Ramirez' side in this just because he doesn't wear a Boston uniform anymore is simply idiotic. There is a bigger problem at hand with Ramirez, and that is his extreme lack of respect for the game. You'd be hard-pressed to find any player in the league with less respect for his profession than Manny Ramirez.

Papelbon's comments about Ramirez weren't good-natured at all, but they were absolutely accurate. This doesn't make him a "jerk," as some brilliant Newsday blogger suggests, but rather it only solidifies his role as a leader on the 2009 Red Sox.

Comparing Manny Ramirez to Alex Rodriguez is a joke, to say the least. Alex, despite making some boneheaded decisions away from the field, will always be committed to the game, whereas Ramirez has sat out many pivotal games, costing his team greatly over the course of his career.

I remember watching Baseball Tonight's trade deadline show last July, praying the Red Sox would hold onto Manny. I still believe to this day that if they hadn't traded him the Yankees would've made the playoffs. That clubhouse would've imploded in August and September, rather than thriving off Jason "Johnny Ballgame" Bay's stellar play in left field.

This morning, Papelbon refused a chance to apologize for his comments. He opted to rather solidify the idea that Bay was the cure for the burden Ramirez put on the clubhouse. "I'm not going to sugarcoat anything," he told The Boston Globe.

Nor should he. If he were to change his attitude now, he wouldn't be the same. Red Sox fans wouldn't love him as much, and Yankees fans wouldn't hate him as much. And as much as I hate him with every Yankee-loving bone in my body, he is forcing me to respect him.

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