Part of the angst that propels me through winter is the need — or, to put it more accurately, the creeping, crawling, wake-you-from-your-sleep desire — to see the likes of Manny, Ortiz and Timlin back in action.
This off-season’s been no different for me, but with one exception: I can’t wait to see that goddam Papelbon puppet again.
Remember that thing? A fully-functional, dancing Jonathan Papelbon puppet that surfaced sometime around the playoffs last October. Actually, scratch that–Ernie and Bert are puppets; this thing was a motherf@#king marionette, held aloft and literally dancing over the crowd like something that got lost on its way to a production of Miss Saigon at the Wang.
Over the last month, I’ve watched the players come and go through the revolving door that is spring training. New faces, old faces, has-beens trying to catch a break and bit players on their farewell tours. But still no sign of The Pappet, as I have officially dubbed it.
So where is it? In someone’s attic? On eBay? In a warehouse somewhere while its makers arrange for freight forwarding to Japan for the upcoming duel with the A’s? Is perhaps a larger-scale model being considered; one which would require several operators and about seventeen bleacher seats to ensure proper functionality?
I refuse to believe that this was a one-shot playoff thing. I want The Pappet at every game, its legs swaying menacingly every time the bullpen doors swing open in the ninth. I want to see it out on Yawkey Way before each game, and in the booth with Don and Jerry at least one inning per telecast. I want it out on the road, following the team as they travel into enemy territory, perhaps handed off from fan-to-fan — not unlike a sort of sacred totem — to ensure adequate coverage at every park the Red Sox visit throughout the summer.
Why? Because I think it’s just another example of how Sox fans are the greatest fans in the game. Look at the ingenuity; sure, Yankees fans have that inane chant for every player at the start of every home game. But where’s their oversized Derek Jeter marionette? I’ll take two rings in four years and a big-ass Papelbon puppet any day of the week over that Yankees Mystique, thank you very much.
So I implore you, makers of The Pappet — assuming you haven’t spent the winter constructing wooden doppelgangers of the entire team (and my knees get weak at the very thought of it). Please dust-off your wondrous creation, pull it out of whatever self-storage facility you’ve deemed worthy of it, and apply a fresh coat of paint to hide those areas where post-World Series jubillation might have taken its toll.
And please, please, please have it ready for active duty come April 1.
Oh, and Larry and the boys from Black 47 say Happy Saint Paddy’s Day: