Jonathan Papelbon arrived in the big leagues on the sunny Sunday afternoon of July 31, 2005, working 5 1/3 innings against the Minnesota Twins and striking out the first two hitters to step in against him. And while it would be a stretch to say this was the day when the big, loud kid from Mississippi began dreaming of free agency, we always understood that's where Papelbon was pointed. He was never going to grab one of those early-career deals from the Red Sox that offered security for his family and, hence, peace of mind for himself. He was going to be a free agent. It was practically stamped on his forehead. So now comes the news that Papelbon has reportedly agreed to a four-year deal with the Philadelphia Phillies for somewhere in the neighborhood of $50 million. The Dropkick Murphys' "I'm Shipping Up to Boston" likely won't be going with him, but Papelbon is shipping down to Philly. But to write Papelbon off as just another money-grubbing ballplayer is to miss the point. With few exceptions, that's what they do. Baseball stops being solely a game, and becomes a business, on that June day when family, friends and a few local sportswriters assemble in the backyard to await the call from a major league team with news that the young man of the hour has been selected in the amateur draft.
Jonathan Papelbon's $50m exit leaves gap in guts
Boston Herald | Nov 12