(Papelbon blames the paucity of autograph requests on how frequently he’s mistaken for The Miz)
A day after one newspaper columnist posed the (serious) question to his readers, “Should Jonathan Papelbon Have Choked Bryce Harper?”, former Jays reliever turned broadcaster/journalist Dirk Hayhurst, author of “The Bullpen Gospels : A Non-Prospect’s Pursuit of the Major Leagues and the Meaning of Life”, took to Vice Sports to call the spat, “the logical conclusion of the testosterone-driven, dick-measuring culture that is the basis for nearly every unwritten rule the sport has ever concocted.”
There is a camp that believes this fight stems from the fact that Harper is a young, flashy, emotionally demonstrative prick who doesn’t always hustle, can be whiny, and has been known to say brash stuff, like, “That’s a clown question, bro.” The only reason he hasn’t gotten his comeuppance, in this reading, is because he’s played well enough to avoid it.
Enter Papelbon; the perfect trigger-happy lunatic for the job of teaching superstars, home and away, lessons on proper baseball behavior. This is a guy who is deranged enough to drill Orioles star, Manny Machado, and then say “Perception is reality. If Manny thinks I hit him, that’s what he thinks.”
While baseball’s social norms are about as clear as mud, one thing is crystal: baseball is full of fragile narcissists who justify a great deal of their behavior by citing sources that don’t exist. They rationalize their foolish behavior as customary or, worse, crucial to the development of a younger generation. The system that makes Jonathan Papelbon a narcissistic borderline fascist is the same system that encourages Bryce Harper to be a narcissistic egomaniac.