Jonathan Papelbon is six saves away from the Phillies all-time record after completing a four-out save on Wednesday. (Kevin Durso/Philliedelphia)
Jonathan Papelbon did it again on Wednesday.
The outspoken Phillies closer opened his mouth and delivered another sound byte that will only continue to hurt his relationship with Phillies fans. With his former team, the Boston Red Sox, in town for the first series of the 2015 season, Papelbon said he never felt like a Phillie.
Papelbon's relationship with Phillies fans has been strained from an early point in his tenure in Philadelphia. After battling through his first season, the tension started with Papelbon's comments about how he "didn't come here for this."
In his usual fashion, Papelbon was being honest. He was asked a question and didn't hold back. But at the same time, you have to wonder if Papelbon told all that day.
Papelbon is a victim of Ruben Amaro Jr. and the Phillies lack of an effort to begin a necessary rebuild for nearly three seasons. When the Phillies signed the closer to an abomination of a contract prior to the 2012 season, Papelbon was regarded as one of the game's best closers and the statement behind the deal further enforced the Phillies last efforts to win with the 2008 core still intact.
After completing a four-out save in the Phillies first win on Wednesday, Papelbon is just six saves away from becoming the Phillies all-time leader. He currently sits at 107 saves as a Phillie.
Papelbon's ERA in three-plus seasons with the Phillies is 2.44. He has at least 29 saves in each season he's pitched with the Phillies. In completing 107 saves, Papelbon also has just 15 blown saves over the last three seasons. For the most part, on the field, Papelbon has done his job.
So here's the first problem with the relationship. Papelbon has performed on the field, been an All-Star once, and approached 40 saves in two of his three seasons with the Phillies. Those are the numbers of an elite closer.
But for having 107 saves, Papelbon has closed out 107 of the Phillies 228 wins over the last three-plus seasons. That's an average of about 75 wins per season, nowhere close to the mark that is needed to compete for a playoff spot.
So Papelbon has a point. No one goes to a team to lose or play for a team with no expectations, as this year's Phillies have.
Now Papelbon has fully admitted that leaving Boston for Philadelphia was "straight cash" indicating that money is in fact an object to him, as it is many athletes. That's the ego of Papelbon talking there. If there's anything fans have learned about Papelbon, it's that he's full of himself, all about himself and, at least to his own self, always right.
For those reasons, and for all of the childish actions and foot-in-mouth moments, Papelbon still deserves the negativity and anger from a fan base. To play in this city, you can't let your emotions get the better of you or be a stand-off, egotistical maniac in the public eye. Papelbon has enough quotable moments and inappropriate actions for an entire team.
It's hard to call it a love-hate relationship when there was never really any love in the first place.
But part of the ire of Papelbon is the team he plays for. This is the not the beloved Phillies of 2008 where every player is like an extended family member or close friend that has that special quality. These Phillies are hard to love, and if they don't have that 2008 connection, there is no sentiment.
Papelbon is also a product of Amaro, the horrible contracts and the downfall of the franchise that has turned the Phillies into the laughing stock of Major League Baseball. For that reason, Papelbon is like Amaro's shadow. Always hated, never forgiven, not welcome here.
As the last effort to extend the core's chances of winning, Papelbon was signed and that effort ultimately failed in what will possible be the best season the Phillies will have over the next decade, an 81-81 campaign in 2012. Because it failed so miserably, Papelbon became another one of the pieces that was part of the freefall. Because he was the most outspoken, he stole the spotlight.
In that sense, Papelbon was never a welcome addition to the Phillies. He wasn't a model athlete - a la Chase Utley and Brad Lidge - or a vocal leader - a la Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard - from the glory days of 2008. There is no love lost. The love was never there.
But it remains a one-sided story. Papelbon hates Philly. And that's all you'll see until his final game in a Phillies uniform, even if it's only half of the story.
Kevin Durso is a contributing writer and editorial assistant for Philliedelphia. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.