With the Boston Herald’s Rob Bradford as witness, Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon threw an All-Star shit-fit prior to last night’s contest in the Bronx, claiming his recent remarks about closing the game in favor of Mariano Rivera were reported inaccurately.

œIt just kind of (ticks) me off because if that gets (expletive) written and I™m riding in an (expletive) parade today with my wife so she doesn™t feel safe because some (expletive) from the Daily News says I want to close the game, and that ain™t true, Papelbon said. œSee what I™m saying?

œThat was an easy headline for that (expletive) to say, ˜Yeah, Papelbon wants to close.™ Of course I do, that™s my competitive nature. But I™m stepping away and saying I don™t need to close.

Papelbon offered the same explanation to his manager, Terry Francona, when the two discussed the pitcher™s comments.

œHis point to me, which is really good, was, ˜If I™m closing and I don™t want to close, what kind of closer am I?™  Francona said. œAnd I completely agree.

Papelbon said his biggest problem with the story and headline was how it affected his wife, who is due with the couple™s first child on New Year™s Day.

œMy wife wasn™t comfortable (during the parade), Papelbon said. œShe™s pregnant with a baby. It (ticks) me off. So some (expletive) from the Daily News can get his headline.”

ESPN ran a clip of Papelbon through Monday afternoon and evening, describing why his “World Champion” status merited consideration for closing the game, yet clumsily defering to Rivera as an “elder statesman”.  What music to Mo’s ears it must’ve been, to learn that a first ballot Hall Of Famer like Jonathan Papelbon was willing to step aside for (in his words) “the good of the game”.

If Papelbon has no clue how condescending his tone was, perhaps Terry Francona can explain it to him. There’s no excusing verbal abuse aimed at the reliever’s family, but he’s officially dumber than he looks.  Papelbon’s hamfisted attempt at clarifying his initial remarks only poured kerosene on the fire. There was no shortage of fans —- not necessarily Yankee fans, either —- who believed Rivera deserved to finish the game and it shouldn’t have required an act of charity from Papelbon or Tito for that to happen.