Papelbon: Collapse 'snuck up on everybody'


Papelbon: Collapse 'snuck up on everybody'

By Phil Perry

As it turns out, the Red Sox's September collapse was as sudden and surprising to the players in the clubhouse as it was to the rest of the world. According to Jonathan Papelbon, there were locker room issues that never got resolved, and before they knew it, they were at home, watching playoff baseball instead of taking part in it.

"I think it just snuck up on us," Papelbon told's Rob Bradford. "It snuck up on Tito. I think it snuck up on GM Theo Epstein. I think it snuck up on the players, and I think it snuck up on the leaders in that Red Sox clubhouse that had been there for the past six, seven, eight years.

"That's why I feel like it's kind of hard to point a finger on somebody. But just as quick as it snuck on Tito, with the team being kind of out of sorts, I think it snuck up on the players and the general manager. It snuck up on everybody."

The fact that the Red Sox jettisoned their manager was equally unnerving for the Red Sox's closer.

"I wouldn't say surprised. That's a bad word to use. I would say more like shocked," said Papelbon about Francona's departure. "The shock value increased and the realization that, you know, if I come back to Boston next year I was more like, is this really happening? I wasn't surprised. It's hard to be surprised in Boston because every little whisper people try to run with it. It's hard to be surprised."

Apparently, though, when it comes to the most headline-worthy locker room problem plaguing the 2011 Red Sox, there were no whispers of drinking in the clubhouse during games because Papelbon said never heard anything about it.

"I have no idea about that," Papelbon said. "I'm getting ready from the first inning. I come in from batting practice, and when I get done with BP, I get my pregame meal and do what I need to, and then I start getting ready for the game. As far as starting pitchers drinking in the clubhouse, I would have never seen it because I'm worried about the Jonathan Papelbon-type things. I 'm not worried about if I need to go find out what the starting pitchers are doing. You see what I'm saying? So from 6 o'clock to 7 o'clock I'm trying to get locked in. From 7 o'clock on, I'm in my routine to go get ready. So, no, it was a shock to me. I had no clue.

"I think everybody in Major League Baseball is their own entity," he added. "So I don't get how people can say, 'You know this didn't work with that.' I think that I'm my own entity. And if I show up to work and bust my ass to put myself in position to do my job I put myself in position to do my job. If I could put myself in a position to be successful every day, then that's all you can ask from every guy in that clubhouse. And I can't answer that for each person. I don't know if they're doing what they feel like they need to be doing to be successful. That's their personal approach."

When asked at what point the Red Sox seemed to be spiriling downward, Papelbon said, "When we were in Tampa Bay, middle of September. When we went there, we lost."

That's when David Ortiz took matters into his own hands and called a team meeting. It wasn't enough to snap the Red Sox out of their funk, but it was something.

"You could see the things kind of like, the team kind of unraveling a bit, and I know David could kind of see that, you know, the frustration. So he called a team meeting," Papelbon remembered. "I'm not going to tell you what the team meeting was about. It was just like, 'Hey, let's get our act together. I'm one of the leaders, and this is what we have got to do to succeed. This is what we can't do to fail.'

"I think that not to say it (earlier) isn't David's fault by any means because he didn't know the timing of the whole Jason Varitek, Tim Wakefield and myself and Dustin and some of the guys that had been in the clubhouse for a little while, had we said, 'Hey, let's get these guys together, let's get our team together, and kind of re-evaluate our plans for the end of the season if it was two weeks earlier, we might not be sitting on the phone taking about this. This is all hindsight. Nobody knows."

NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945


NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945

CHICAGO -- Cursed by a Billy Goat, bedeviled by Bartman and crushed by decades of disappointment, the Chicago Cubs are at long last headed back to the World Series.

Kyle Hendricks outpitched Clayton KershawAnthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras homered early and the Cubs won their first pennant since 1945, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 Saturday night in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series.

The drought ended when closer Aroldis Chapman got Yasiel Puig to ground into a double play, setting off a wild celebration inside Wrigley Field, outside the ballpark and all over the city.

Seeking their first crown since 1908, manager Joe Maddon's team opens the World Series at Cleveland on Tuesday night. The Indians haven't won it all since 1948 - Cleveland and Cubs have the two longest title waits in the majors.

"This city deserves it so much," Rizzo said. "We got four more big ones to go, but we're going to enjoy this. We're going to the World Series. I can't even believe that."

All-everything Javier Baez and pitcher Jon Lester shared the NLCS MVP. Baez hit .318, drove in five runs and made several sharp plays at second base. Lester, a former World Series champion in Boston, was 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers.

Deemed World Series favorites since opening day, the Cubs topped the majors with 103 wins to win the NL Central, then beat the Giants and Dodgers in the playoffs.

The Cubs overcame a 2-1 deficit against the Dodgers and won their 17th pennant. They had not earned a World Series trip since winning a doubleheader opener 4-3 at Pittsburgh on Sept. 29, 1945, to clinch the pennant on the next-to-last day of the season.

The eternal "wait till next year" is over. No more dwelling on a history of failure - the future is now.

"We're too young. We don't care about it," star slugger Kris Bryant said. "We don't look into it. This is a new team, this is a completely different time of our lives. We're enjoying it and our work's just getting started."

Hendricks pitched two-hit ball for 7 1/3 innings. Chapman took over and closed with hitless relief, then threw both arms in the air as he was mobbed by teammates and coaches.

The crowd joined in, chanting and serenading their team.

"Chicago!" shouted popular backup catcher David Ross.

The Cubs shook off back-to-back shutout losses earlier in this series by pounding the Dodgers for 23 runs to win the final three games.

And they were in no way overwhelmed by the moment on Saturday, putting aside previous frustration.

In 1945, the Billy Goat Curse supposedly began when a tavern owner wasn't allowed to bring his goat to Wrigley. In 2003, the Cubs lost the final three games of the NLCS to Florida, punctuated with a Game 6 defeat when fan Steve Bartman deflected a foul ball.

Even as recently as 2012, the Cubs lost 101 times.

This time, no such ill luck.

Bryant had an RBI single and scored in a two-run first. Dexter Fowler added two hits, drove in a run and scored one.

Contreras led off the fourth with a homer. Rizzo continued his resurgence with a solo drive in the fifth.

That was plenty for Hendricks, the major league ERA leader.

Hendricks left to a standing ovation after Josh Reddick singled with one out in the eighth. The only other hit Hendricks allowed was a single by Andrew Toles on the game's first pitch.

Kershaw, dominant in Game 2 shutout, gave up five runs and seven hits before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth. He fell to 4-7 in the postseason.

The Dodgers haven't been to the World Series since winning in 1988.

Pitching on five days' rest, the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner threw 30 pitches in the first. Fowler led off with a double, and Bryant's single had the crowd shaking the 102-year-old ballpark.

They had more to cheer when left fielder Andrew Toles dropped Rizzo's fly, putting runners on second and third, and Ben Zobrist made it 2-0 a sacrifice fly.

The Cubs added a run in the second when Addison Russell doubled to deep left and scored on a two-out single by Fowler.


Maddon benched slumping right fielder Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.

"Kershaw's pitching, so I wanted to get one more right-handed bat in the lineup, and also with Albert I don't feel like we're losing anything on defense," Maddon said. "I know Jason's a Gold Glover, but I think Albert, given an opportunity to play often enough would be considered a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder, too."

Heyward was 2 for 28 in the playoffs - 1 for 16 in the NLCS.


Kerry Wood, wearing a Ron Santo jersey, threw out the first pitch and actor Jim Belushi delivered the "Play Ball!" call before the game. Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder and actor John Cusack were also in attendance. And Bulls great Scottie Pippen led the seventh-inning stretch.