Emma Span
Sunday September 14th, 2014

Did Jonathan Papelbon grab his crotch in response to being booed by Philadelphia fans on Sunday afternoon, after blowing a three-run lead to the Marlins? Given Papelbon's, let’s say, less-than-tactful persona, it wouldn’t exactly be a shock, and umpire Joe West sure thought so, tossing the Phillies' closer accordingly. Then again, West has his own history of confrontation and overreacting to player behavior, including an ejection rate about 50 percent higher than average. So let’s go to the crotch-grabbing equivalent of the Zapruder film, via Joon Lee:

Pittsburgh Pirates turn first triple play in PNC Park history

​Papelbon certainly pauses deliberately to, uh, make some adjustments, and does so in the general direction of the fans, who were not shy about their displeasure. (The Marlins would go on to win 5-4). Papelbon does seem to be doing so emphatically, not just in passing, but to be fair we only have an indirect view here. In any case, when West ejected him, Papelbon got right in the umpire’s face, yelling and gesturing until West essentially grabbed him by the shirt and moved him aside, which means Papelbon will be lucky if he isn’t suspended. He did pull off a moderately convincing "Who, me? What did I do?" act after being tossed:

Who among us can know what’s truly in a man’s heart when he reaches for his groin? Even in a good year for the closer, who has 37 saves and a 1.56 ERA, this town and this pitcher just don’t have an easy relationship. Whether he really was trying to tell Phillies fans to get bent (and failing to be subtle enough), or was a victim of circumstance, an uncomfortable underwear situation and Joe West's itchy trigger finger, this is pretty much the most Papelbon-in-Philadelphia moment possible.

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