Papelbon Wrong About 2012 – Phillies Nation

Papelbon Wrong About 2012

Since I have been here, I haven’t seen any leadership

Jonathan Papelbon, February 21, 2013

I wish I could have written about this quote sooner. But, to be honest, I don’t think there is much to say; I believe Papelbon’s misspoke during a period of quick reflection. A reflection on a season’s worth of disappointments that are understandable when compared to the high expectations the Phillies had entering 2012.

While his comments may have been understandable, that doesn’t mean that he wasn’t entirely wrong. Dead wrong.

Listen, any team that had won the last five division titles has leaders. The 2012 Phillies met that description and then some. Twice a World Series participant, once a winner, in those five years, someone must have been guiding the Phillies. There were more than a few constants from those five years who returned for 2012: Charlie Manuel, Rich Dubee, Carlos Ruiz, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Cole Hamels, Kyle Kendrick, and Shane Victorino all entered the 2012 as Phillies who had been there from the beginning of their playoff run. So what gave in 2012? It’s pretty obvious to me. Follow the jump for some beautiful visual evidence.

Injuries weren’t the whole story but they were a much larger part than leadership. While I don’t think the Phillies were a better team than the Nationals, they would have finished much closer to the Braves and made the second Wild Card competitive if they were completely healthy in 2012.

I can’t imagine there would be a leadership dearth starting the season with seven players left from the 2008 championship team, most of the previous year’s 102-win team on the roster, a pair of Cy Young winners, two MVPs, and several former All-Stars, but I suppose I could be wrong. But I think Papelbon was the one who was wrong here.



  1. wbramh

    February 22, 2013 at 10:53 pm

    I heard an interview with Papelbon last year where he said something to the effect that he tries to contribute to the team by example on the field.That is, If he’s playing to win and playing hard he’s doing what any player must do to help the team and be a leader.

    Assuming I have paraphrased his comments correctly, why would he expect anything other than leadership by on-field example from his teammates?

    Seems like he’s looking in the wrong places for crux of the team’s problem.

  2. frank

    February 22, 2013 at 11:01 pm

    I think papelbon was wrong bringing this to the media. Any sports team is an extended family. We can speculate, but players have to keep everything in the clubhouse or it will start a controversy. If that’s the way he felt, talk to someone in the clubhouse or try and be a leader himself. Who know, maybe he’s right, but for sure, he has probably alienated himself from many of the players.

  3. EricL

    February 22, 2013 at 11:02 pm

    Leadership is one of those BS unquantifiable things like grit and motivation and momentum (at least with respect to sporting events). It’s a useful word to throw into a post hoc narrative about why something happened, but the truth is they lost because they weren’t good enough on the field, and so he’s making this stuff up now as an explanation for why they lost. It’s a classic example of attribution theory.

    Matt Gelb wrote something similar about Papelbon’s comments, as did Bill Baer at Crashburn Alley. Winning teams never have leadership problems and losing teams often have leadership problems, but that’s not because leadership leads to winning…it’s the other way around. Winning leads to “leadership” while losing leads to discontentedness. It’s as simple as that.

  4. mary pat

    February 22, 2013 at 11:10 pm

    Winning creates chemistry. Losing creates bad chemistry. If Papelbon had something to say, he should’ve said it in the clubhouse, instead of whine to the press about it. It’s plain and simple.

  5. mary pat

    February 22, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    Winning creates chemistry. Losing creates bad chemistry. If Papelbon had something to say, he should’ve said it in the clubhouse, instead of whine to the press about it. It’s plain and simple. This really ticked me off and made me lose respect for him.

    • frank

      February 22, 2013 at 11:27 pm

      Wonder how much respect his teammates lost for him if they ever had any. Wasn’t he part of that 2011 redsox team that had the worst leadership I’ve ever seen in a sports organization. Amazing things that we’re confirmed in the media. So bad they had to dismantle the team. And he dares to bring any problems he saw with the Phil’s.

  6. jim cadden

    February 22, 2013 at 11:18 pm

    Pap is right. He came from a winner, is a winner, and wants to continue in that vein with the phils. The old leaders on the field for the phils aren’t speaking up and acting like leaders because they are not sure of themselves this coming year, and don’t know if they can deliver. They do not want to embarrass themselves. If Pap wants to become the new leader on this team I say rally behind him. And if the old leaders step up and speak up to support him, all the better. The best scenario would be to get the team vets to get their swag back and start talking some trash.

    • frank

      February 22, 2013 at 11:36 pm

      That worked a few years ago and could again, but I don’t think that works talking about your team in the media. Keep it in house. Sure, talk trash about other teams in the media. That’s different.

    • EricL

      February 22, 2013 at 11:56 pm


  7. Jaron B

    February 23, 2013 at 3:00 am

    When I think of player-run leadership, I think of leading not only by example but also by voice: helping the players, especially the youth, perform well (coaching) & effectively deal with the mental grind of a 162-game schedule. I think of Jamie Moyer giving tips to Roy Halladay, and a few weeks later, Halladay ends up throwing a perfecto (Jamie, if you’re reading this, retire as a player and become a pitching coach.) – something we all knew Roy could do, and perhaps it was Jamie’s tips that put the achievement within immediate reach. It will be up to Pap, Adams, & Durbin to help Bastardo & the young guys achieve.

  8. brooks

    February 23, 2013 at 7:04 am

    He explained himself just fine. His intention was to shake it up, it worked and he was right. The clubhouse was a mess last year and how could it not be?
    Give Paps some credit, if he falls short in the role which HE himself said he needs to improve on, then he rightfully deserves to be heaped in among the trash talkers with no backbone. Until then, throw out your chest, get them moving.
    The Phils do have a lot to prove this year.

    • Ken Bland

      February 23, 2013 at 8:14 am

      I did a double take on his perspective of he himself needs to be more of a leader this year. Struck me as good gift of gab, When did he wake up to that? Firstly, when he signed his contract, that should have been an eye opening sign that he should assume a leadership role.
      Then, when the pen was such a disaster in the first half, did it not occur to him that maybe he could utilize his experience to help indoctrinate the young pen guys?

      The copy’s okay, it garnered atention, but for him to just come to this conclusion seems off.

  9. brooks

    February 23, 2013 at 7:09 am

    I was reading an article by Jerry Crasnick for ESPN about Adam Eaton impressing the D’Backs. I had to read more, how could this bum resurrect such a false career? It appears that this Adam Eaton is not related in any way (from what I see). This guy plays the OF (mostly CF) is only 5’8″ with little power and has a minor league average over .350 with an OBP of over .450 – the guy can steal bases and get on base.
    He only hit .259 for the bigs last year in 22 games last year for the D’Backs but still had a whopping .382 OBP.
    Keep an eye out for this one.

    • Lefty

      February 23, 2013 at 7:58 am

      I’ve had my eye on him. If no one else in my league grabs him first, I’m going to in the mid rounds.

    • c schreiber

      February 23, 2013 at 3:07 pm

      Duh, really you thought this was the”old” Phillies pitcher. Go back to sleep Rip Van Winkle.

      • brooks

        February 24, 2013 at 6:57 am

        I think you give Eaton too much credit – he was a thief while he was here, not a pitcher.
        If I’m not mistaken, he robbed Philadephia of close to $15 million dollars during his short stay here.
        BTW – he is only 35 now.

  10. hk

    February 23, 2013 at 7:37 am

    Jon Papelbon, discussing the leaking of stories about players drinking beer and fried chicken in the Red Sox clubhouse in 2011: “I was surprised,” he said. “I thought a lot of it was kind of unnecessary and a lot if it kind of didn’t really play into the fact that there is still a game to be played and there is still baseball to be played besides what is going on in the clubhouse and the private things going on between players and coaches in the clubhouse.”

    Jon Papelbon discussing 2012: “It was an all-around leadership void from A to Z. From being a vocal leader to being an off-the-field leader to being an on-the-field leader to everything. You can’t just point your finger at what type of leadership was missing. It was the whole part of the equation. Our team identity is formed by that leadership.”

    Which is it Jon? Should the private things that go on between players and coaches in the clubhouse be kept private or should players, coaches and the manager be called out for not being leaders?

    • Lefty

      February 23, 2013 at 8:04 am

      Ha! hk, looks like I was typing mine while yours went up, I just noticed it, well stated.

      In answer to your question, he doesn’t know. He just opened his mouth and threw up all over himself as many fools do. My question is – Was it Jonathan or Cinco-Ocho speaking? One never knows.

      • hk

        February 23, 2013 at 8:10 am


        You are right, I forgot about that the Phils are paying $50M over four years to both of them. Apparently, Jonathan thinks that what happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse while Cinco-Ocho thinks it’s okay to discuss the team’s lack of leadership.

  11. Lefty

    February 23, 2013 at 7:49 am

    What Papelbon means- is that there is no Beer or Fried Chicken in the dang clubhouse or dugout, now THAT’s leadership! How can you expect real leadership without Sam Adams Boston Lager and KFC in between innings for crissakes?

    And what about Cinco Ohco? What’s his take on the whole thing? Cigarettes to help their endurance maybe?

    This guy is a freakin’ nutcase goofball with no credibility. And now he’s going to be the leader of the bullpen? I wouldn’t put that fool in charge of my dog for fear he’d teach it to piss all over the house. Ridiculous.

  12. Ken Bland

    February 23, 2013 at 8:07 am

    I’d tend to classify Papelbon’s comments under the category of the old locker room adage, “What you see here, what you hear here, let it stay here.” I don’t see where discussing this publicly serves much purpose. It doesn’t show much leadership.

    That’s my leaning, but I must admit that some managers and coaches have had practices of talking to their players through the press. Maybe it winds up serving some purpose.

    I’ve found Papelbon a challenge to connect with for quite a while now during his career. I’m sure he’s a well intending guy, but there’s just something about him.

  13. Chuck A.

    February 23, 2013 at 9:31 am

    I’ll just chalk it up to the “closer mentality”. Some of these dude are completely off the wall and Papsmear is certainly no exception. Hell, Randy Myers used to play with toy soldiers in the bullpen for God’s sake!

    The bottom line now is simple…. Paps has to go out and BE A LEADER, pitch his ass off and this will all be forgotten in my book. I’m sure Jimmy, Chase, Ryan, Cole, Doc and the rest of the leaders on this club are watching, too!

  14. George

    February 23, 2013 at 10:16 am

    I think Papelbon’s comments have been blown way out of proportion. He’s talented, but has for years been considered a goofball. I’m sure even his teamates know that and aren’t going to lose any sleep over it.

  15. George

    February 23, 2013 at 10:28 am

    One other thing I HAVE to say: It’s pretty unfair to base an article on Papelbon’s initial quote without any reference to his later remarks clarifying that quote. That’s taking someone out of context. He may have waited too long to clear things up, but before this article was posted, he had done so.

  16. Chris

    February 23, 2013 at 11:21 am

    I’m glad to hear paps say this one of the things you guys don’t know is clubhouse chemistry. One of my good friends is real good friends with Worley. He was tellin us how the locker room is divided Doc was hurt hamels and lee aren’t big talkers utley was out. Howard and j stroll literally couldn’t be bothered anymore as Worley said its almost like they don’t care they were there for a paycheck. Victorino was a straight cancer to the club hence why he got traded and why they had no interest in bringing him back And pence well he wasn’t a leader type for us. This bothered Worley all year last year bc the veterans strong armed the young guys who couldn’t speak up. After reading this I’m convinced it was a bad locker room last year.

  17. Mazinman

    February 23, 2013 at 11:28 am

    You know, this is the kind of statement that could cause all kinds of trouble. The still relative new guy caused problems with the established players. That is not happening though. Jimmy Rollins came to his defense and the clubhouse leaders in general did not seem to be outraged. In fact, the took the statement as a sign that they had to do more and embarrassed that.

    This is just adding to a strange sense of confidence that I am developing in the team this year.

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