Remember this? “The Closer”, my quilted fabric portrait of Jonathan Papelbon, was the idea behind the concept of “QuiltedBaseball”. It was based on a photo that had such a perfect graphic quality to it that it called out to me to be made into a quilt.
So, I was minding my own business on Twitter….um. Maybe it is not possible to mind your own business on Twitter. Okay, so, I was minding other people’s business on Twitter, following various Red Sox and baseball-related people (of course) when I suddenly got a message that shocked me to my shoes. “Hey there”, it began. “I recognized the guy in your profile picture.” You see, my profile picture is “The Closer”.
And that’s how I came to be commissioned to make two portrait quilts for the subject matter himself.
Does that make me the Ophicial Quilter of the Philadelphia Phillies?
I knew I was sad that Pap went to the Phillies. I did not know how sad until I put the red cap on him and the “P” where the “B” should have been. John Henry & Co., how do you do it? How do you raise these kids through your farm system, watch their big league success, and then let them slip away so easily? Even sending those quilts off via Federal Express felt like I was putting my own children on the truck! I just hoped that they would be treated better than FedEx treated Ryan Braun’s pee sample.
Every time I look at my Pap quilt, I am reminded of how much I will miss all of it. The dramatic entrance…the fist bump with the bullpen cop…the opening thump of notes to his warm up song…the crowd rises…we sing along, “I’m shipping up to Boston, whoa oh oh”…..the way it just so happens to take him 2 minutes and 34 seconds to warm up until the song ends. …that face…that classic pose…his cleanly shaven chin…the pursed lips…the steely eyes…the arm dangle…the delivery…then, strike one. The perfect choreography of it all…the precision timing…a World Series ring…the underwear dance on the mound…the crazy kid with the cigar at the duck boat parade. Make no mistake about it. We are going to miss him. Are you remembering a few blown saves? Bah! Nobody’s perfect! Move on.
I feel sorry for Andrew Bailey. No matter how good a closer he is, how does anyone follow that?
Pap was in the news today talking some trash about Red Sox fans. I can forgive him for saying that Boston fans are “hysterical” and that Phillies fans have a better understanding of baseball. I can even forgive him for saying that he would have not hesitated to go to the Yankees if he had been given an opportunity. I get it. He knows what he is doing. He endeared himself to his new Phillies fans with a pat on the head and a compliment while throwing Boston fans under the bus. Adrian Gonzalez did that last year when he said he was “ready to beat the Yanks” at his initial press conference. Bobby Valentine has been chirping away about the Yankees all winter long. Pap is no dope. He is a man with a plan. The plan is to provide as much as possible to his young family and for future generations of Papelbons. His plan is also not to get shelled by flying objects after blowing a couple of saves in Philly. (Remember, nobody’s perfect.) Sadly, the Red Sox did not make him an offer so he did what anyone else would have done and what he does so well. He turned the page and moved on.
Pap told the story of a man throwing a prosthetic leg at him when he was warming up in the bullpen at Fenway. The opening words to his entrance song are, “I’m a sailor peg; and I lost my leg; climbing up the top sail; I lost my leg…” That fan was kind of clever when you think about it. Hysterical? Maybe Pap just meant that we are extremely funny. Some of us are so hysterical that we make quilted fabric portraits of our favorite players. Others take entrance songs literally and try to act them out. No harm intended.
Go ahead, Pap. Call us hysterical. Pretend we do not know our baseball. But you know the truth. You grew up in the Red Sox organization and we watched. You became the young man who hoisted Jason Varitek up in the air in 2007. You were one of the few that made us proud by your performance in 2011. You grew into the man who left quietly and without the fanfare that you so deserved. Say what you will but you will never get me to be mad at you. After all, that’s my quilt hanging on your wall. When you look at it, remember where you came from and how much we care that you were here.