For Whom the Bell Tolls

It is perhaps fitting that Philadelphia Closer Jonathan Papelbon has adopted the chugging sound of Metallica’s heavyweight anthem as his 9th inning intro. An aural adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s classic novel, the theme is one of Civil War, and the brutal nature of such a struggle as seen through the eyes of a young American.

Illustrative of the internal conflict that is raging within Papelbon in recent days has been the disturbing manifestation of his hard throwing ‘alter ego’ to dominate his every utterance, and while Pap’s usual mix of obvious comment and standard sporting cliché seldom added gravitas to an interview, the extremely confident and highly narcissistic ‘Cinco Ocho’ has attracted a certain notoriety by providing the media with a constant stream of strangely obscure ego-centrical statements that regularly verge on the auto-erotic.

Those of us familiar with the earlier Red Sox stage of Papelbon’s career have grown accustomed to the odd reference to ‘Cinco’, but they were few and far between, and usually dismissed as a slightly annoying exuberance on the part of the young pitcher, however it appears that Papelbon has now deferred most if not all control to the parasitical ‘Cinco’ since moving to Philadelphia.

As an admirer of Papelbon’s work in the past, it fills me with immense sadness to see him visibly battle to control the beast within, however there is a selfish side of me that cannot help but imagine just what might have been if ‘Cinco’ had gained this level of control over plain old Pap while he was still in Boston…

An icy-veined brute such as ‘Cinco’ would never have allowed Robert Andino to royally shaft him with the 2011 season on the line at Camden Yards, nor would a 9th inning omnipotent uber-stud like ‘Cinco’ have lacked the confidence to mix in a little off-speed while facing the free-swinging Vladimir Guerrero during Game 3 of the 2009 ALDS.

In a recent interview, a clearly disturbed Papelbon had momentarily regained enough control over his faculties to speak candidly about the precarious grip he maintains on his very being –

Cinco always has the advantage. Whatever he does. He doesn’t know how he do, he just do.

Never under-estimate Cinco-Ocho.

Cinco is like a Great White, when he smells blood he attacks

For a man that expects to make at least $50m over the next four years with the Phillies, these semi-literate and confused assertions are nothing if not a chilling cry for help, and a desperate reminder that Jonathan Papelbon has some serious problems.