Last night I finally got to see two things I've been waiting for: Papelbon pitching at Fenway, and Papelbon's Dunkin' Donuts commercial.
Of course, I didn't get to see his introduction in the eighth inning, which is really the best part. NESN may have shown it, but I was at a friend's house and it got lost in channel-flipping. Also, I forgot to set my TiVo to record on CN8 last night, because I forgot that NESN was showing the stupid Bruins getting creamed by stupid Montreal.
But even without seeing what I'm sure was an overwhelming reception, you could feel the electricity hanging in the air throughout his appearance. I've been at the ballpark and seen it--that's the feeling of everyone on the edge of their seat, paying rapt attention, waiting for that filthy heater to make quick work of the opposition.
Papelbon's greatest contribution was in the 8th, when he took over for a flailing Julian Tavarez, who'd turned a five-run lead into a save situation again. Even the ESPN play-by-play page shows Papelbon's effectiveness:
Look at all that green, signifying run-scoring plays, courtesy of Tavarez. And then just that serene little black line at the bottom. It took Tavarez 21 pitches to let the Tigers fire up the merry-go-round; it took Papelbon exactly two to bring it to a shuddering halt.
Have I mentioned lately that I think he's, you know, pretty awesome? Have I made that clear enough on this site?
After the Sox gang-banged Bazardo to tack on four more runs in the bottom of the inning, Jonathan seemed to lose a little bit of his adrenaline and focus. I wish they'd returned him to the lead-lined, down-filled, temperature-controlled, armored and guarded enclosure I've asked them to keep him in when he's not out there unleashing flames toward home plate, but I suppose there's also no point in firing him all the way up just for two pitches.
Without the Eye of the Tiger going for him, though, Papelbon faltered a bit, giving up two hits before finally turning on Marcus Thames with a look in his eyes that would melt iron, getting squeezed on strike one, earning a mighty empty swing on what should have been strike two, and then getting him to ground out and end the game. And the moments I'd been waiting for were over. At least, until next time.
Or until the next commercial break. I realize this may damage my street cred with some members of the baseball public, but I have to confess that when he cracked that cocky little smile after the first chick slapped him on the ass in that Dunk's commercial, I got just the tiniest bit lightheaded.
Other than that, it was just funny, especially if you picture the filming as Papel-blog did: "Do you think the director offered to use a stand-in ass for all the parts where you only see him from the waist down and Papelbon totally refused?" (Surviving Grady is on the spot with the news that, as they put it, "a stunt ass was used.")
Still, between the pantsless celebrations last season and this latest bit of work, it really does seem that, for some reason, Papelbon wants us all to have a personal relationship with his ass.
Some other random thoughts:
- As Sam put it in an email to me yesterday (where I was talking about guess what, pitchers), I am the consummate pitching ho. I'll always focus on the pitching--in my twisted mind, you see, Papelbon was responsible for the win because he came in and saved the game in the 8th. But the scraps of rational thought I have left acknowledge that it was really the offense that pulled out that track meet last night. Every time the Tigers would even get close, the Sox bats would rain down fury like a Nike from the sky. Sean Casey so far has been as good a gap-filler as we could ask for.
- I would like to take this moment to express my ever-growing admiration for Kevin Youkilis. 2-4 last night with 2 RBI and a walk, and another error-free night at third base, despite some tough hopping grounders and deep picks he was called upon to handle. Sean Casey picked up at first like he and Youkilis had been doing this all season, digging a couple of the tougher throws out of the dirt. It's amazing to me that this team could've lost a player as instrumental as Mike Lowell and just kept things humming along.
- Speaking of Mike Lowell, did anyone else notice the unlikely odd couple that was him and Josh Beckett hanging out on the dugout rail last night? I hope Mike was giving Josh some facial hair grooming advice, because really, he's going to have to do something about those chin pubes eventually.
- There have been lots of easy jokes made about the fact that Papelbon has no lines in his commercial. In this interview with WCVB that I came across on YouTube, he explains why this actually makes him a more advanced actor: