Yardbarker- Papelbon kicked off spring training by apologizing for choking teammate Bryce Harper in the dugout late last season. There’s a good chance the Nationals told him to do that. They also told Papelbon what not to wear, according to Thomas Boswell of The Washington Post:
Later, he walked the Nats’ complex in a cut-off muscle T-shirt with arrows pointing to big biceps covered in jagged tattoos. The shirt said: “Obama Can’t Ban These Guns.” Pap wanted to wear that shirt to the “apology press conference,” but he was talked out of it.
Boswell also notes that Papelbon was in charge of the music in the clubhouse at the time, and a country song conveniently entitled “Shut Me Up” was playing in the background while he issued the apology.
First of all, I would be remiss not to mention what a comically poor decision it is for the Washington Nationals to still employ an aging, mediocre reliever that did this to one of the best young players in all of baseball...
In fact, it might even be dumber than the decision to have him hold a press conference to apologize FIVE months after the fact. I am not PR expert, but I think it would have been a better idea to let that sleeping dog lie. You know, instead of injecting it with a shot of adrenaline.
That, however, is neither here nor there. I don't want to discuss the Nationals personnel choices. Instead I would rather talk about how they messed up by making Jonathon Papelbon change his clothes. Nothing speaks to the sincerity of an apology quite like doing so in a politically charged tank top that highlights your own vanity, and I say that without a hint of sarcasm. Papelbon is one of the most enigmatic, volatile personalities in all of professional sports. Saying sorry already goes against everything for which he stands. I wasn't going to believe a word he said regardless, but I am definitely not going to believe him if he's standing there in a suit and tie with 'Kumbuya' playing in the background. That's not the type of person he is. He might look like a true jackass trying to atone for squeezing every last breathe out of Bryce Harper's throat while wearing a cut-off novelty t-shirt, but he is a true jackass. Let him wear what he wants and play the music that he wants so at least he gives off the illusion that this long belated public gesture was his idea, because there's not a shot in hell that it actually was.