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11/01/2007 11:12 AM ET
Papelbon a hit on Letterman
Red Sox closer steals the show talking about championship
tickets for any Major League Baseball game
Jonathan Papelbon displayed his dance moves -- and winning personality -- for Late Show host David Letterman. (Courtesy, Worldwide Pants)
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Just like he's been doing for the past month while celebrating victory after victory under the bright lights of Major League Baseball's playoffs, Boston Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon danced his way onto another big stage Wednesday night.

Papelbon, who recorded the last out of the World Series on Sunday night when he struck out Colorado Rockies outfielder Seth Smith, was the first guest on CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman" on Wednesday. When introduced, Papelbon stepped onto the floor to the strains of the Dropkick Murphys' "I'm Shipping Up to Boston" -- music that he's been rocking out to during each raucous post-series party.

Letterman held up the cover of Sports Illustrated that Papelbon graces this week and complimented the right-hander on his postseason performance, calling it a "very impressive piece of work."

Letterman then asked Papelbon about his arsenal of pitches, and Papelbon detailed his 95-plus mph fastball, the split-fingered fastball that often serves as his out pitch and revealed that he's working on a new one, a "slider/cutter, in between."

Letterman then cracked, "Is that legal?"

Papelbon, with solid comic timing, said, "No, not yet."

The next question for the 26-year-old closer dealt with what he and the rest of the Red Sox have been doing, and Papelbon's answer was about as simple as any member of jubilant Red Sox Nation could expect.

"We had a parade, not much sleep, a lot of partying, a lot of drinking [and] a lot of dancing," Papelbon said. "Other than not sleeping, you know, partying."

Asked why he is seemingly so into the Riverdance and expressing himself that way, Papelbon said it stems from the combination of Irish folk music and hard rock that Boston band the Dropkick Murphys have popularized in Beantown. Papelbon uses the song, which also was part of the Oscar-winning movie "The Departed," when coming out of the bullpen and into a game at Fenway.

The first time he tried the dance, he was in the clubhouse in a children's Red Sox jersey and underwear. Letterman couldn't help but ask why Papelbon felt comfortable enough to do that, and he quipped back to the host, "That's kind of what I decided to celebrate in. What can I tell you?"

In other revealing moments, Papelbon said that yes, the Red Sox really do despise the Yankees and other rivals when they're the field, but "when we're off the field and go out to eat and see [Barry] Bonds or Alex Rodriguez in a restaurant, we're cordial and we say, 'Hey,' and we get along. [But] inside the lines, I think hate does enter the equation."

Papelbon got the biggest laughs of the night -- and maybe a warning for strong language -- when he explained how Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz motivated the Sox with a team meeting after Boston fell behind, 3-1, in the American League Championship Series against the Cleveland Indians.

"He kind of got us guys together, no coaches, no media, and kind of held a team meeting," Papelbon said. "He said, 'Hey guys, I gotta tell you something. If you wear a Red sox uniform jersey, you're a bad [person]."

At that point, Letterman blushed, and Papelbon fired back with, "That's quote-unquote. Sorry about that."

Letterman didn't seem too sorry to have the overly enthusiastic pitcher as a guest, however. He asked Papelbon about what the Sox would do with free-agent third baseman and World Series Most Valuable Player Mike Lowell and if they'd consider replacing him with Rodriguez, who opted out of his Yankees deal.

Papelbon pleaded the fifth, saying, "I think right now we're just kind of waiting to see what Mike Lowell does." On the prospect of signing A-Rod, Papelbon was diplomatic as well, saying, "Personally, I would love to have him come just so I won't have to pitch to him. I think the fans of Boston might think otherwise."

Papelbon expressed tons of confidence that the Red Sox could be World Series contenders for years to come, saying general manager Theo Epstein and the rest of the organizational brass have stocked the farm system with excellent prospects, something that sets apart the 2007 Red Sox from Boston's last championship team in 2004.

Letterman was once again impressed, wishing Papelbon the best, and then, after returning from a commercial break, turning to longtime bandleader Paul Shaffer and saying, "How bout that kid, huh?

"He's just a happy ballplayer."

Doug Miller is Senior Writer for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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