Martone: Things I won't miss about Pap

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Martone: Things I won't miss about Pap

I wish I could say I'll miss him.

The steady-as-a-piston 30 saves a season? The structure he's brought to the Red Sox bullpen over the last six years? His goofiness? His general likeability? Yeah, I'll miss all that. And while this may get me kicked out of the Purists' Circle, I'll even miss those crashing opening notes of "I'm Shipping Up To Boston", which the Fenway audio crew would have playing within seconds of the third out in the bottom of the eighth.

Here's what I won't miss about Jonathan Papelbon:

The interminable delays as he stood there on the rubber, staring in, his cap pulled down to eyebrow level, shaking off his catcher, shaking him off, shaking him off, until finally the poor sap would call time and trot out there for a three-second conversation. (I could never figure it. What can you say in three seconds other than "Fastball" or "cutter" or "slider"? How was that not one of the signs?) The just-as-interminable number of foul balls, as hitters managed to spoil one pitch after another. Which would, inevitably, lead to baserunners, sometimes more than one. He would succeed (far) more often than not, but those soul-draining, enthusiasm-sucking, 26-pitches-in-24-minutes innings . . . they'd take something out of you.

I'm not much for form over content, generally, but there was something about Papelbon's lack of artistry that just wore on me over the years. He'd drag the game to a halt, right at the time when the tension and excitement should be its peak, and it bothered me. (Let me back in, Purists!) Especially when compared to the android-like efficiency of Mariano Rivera, who could do the same job in one-third the time with one-fourth the number of pitches.

And I've been around long enough to know that -- while you're screwed if you have a bad closer -- you don't need a great one to survive. Some teams use a different one every year, usually for financial reasons, and do just fine. (Hello there, Joe Maddon.) If Ben Cherington declined to match what appears to be an overly generous proposal from the Phillies, I can't say I blame him.

Don't get me wrong; I liked Pap. How could you not? He was the closer in a glorious period in Red Sox history, and I'll always remember him fondly.

But not having to watch him night after night anymore . . . not shedding any tears over that.

Draymond Green tells Paul Pierce he doesn't get a farewell tour; Pierce says Warrior blew a 3-1 lead

Draymond Green tells Paul Pierce he doesn't get a farewell tour; Pierce says Warrior blew a 3-1 lead

Draymond Green isn’t exactly known as being the most respectful competitor, so perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he spent the early minutes of last night’s game against the Clippers telling Paul Pierce he isn’t a legend. 

Pierce, who will retire at the end of the season, was not in the game at the time, but Green called to him from the court, telling him nobody would give him a farewell tour. 

“Chasing that farewell tour. They don’t love you like that,” Green said. “You can’t get that farewell tour. They don’t love you like that.” 

Green then said something else that was tough to hear through the broadcast before adding, “You thought you was Kobe?”

After the game, Pierce responded on Twitter, going to the easiest and most obvious insult available. As Chris Rock once said, “If I’m driving, and someone crashes into me with one leg, I’m gonna talk about the leg.”

Gronkowski says he has 'no doubt' he'll be ready for start of next season

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Gronkowski says he has 'no doubt' he'll be ready for start of next season

When it comes to projecting Rob Gronkowski's health, it's been best to steer clear of absolutes. There have been too many injuries, too many surgeries, to predict exactly how he'll feel months in advance. 

Still, in speaking with ESPN's Cari Champion recently, he said he had "no doubt" he'll be ready for Week 1 of the 2017 regular season. 

"Yes, for sure," he replied when asked if he expected to be good to go. 

Gronkowski also fielded a question about his long-term future in the sit-down. Lately it's been his coach Bill Belichick and his quarterback Tom  Brady who receiver all the life-after-football queries, but Gronkowski, 27, was asked how much longer he'd like to play. 

"I’m not really sure," he said. "I mean, I still love playing the game, and as of right now, I want to play as long as I possibly could play. My mindset is to keep on going."

Gronkowski landed on season-ending injured reserve in December after undergoing a procedure on his back -- his third back surgery since 2009. He's had nine reported surgeries -- including procedures on his knee, forearm and ankle -- since his final year at the University of Arizona.