During this week’s On Deck Series, the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and KPMG sponsored a Q&A session with Cliff Lee, Ryan Howard, Jim Thome and Jonathan Papelbon. And it was outstanding.

The highlight? Papelbon, Cinco Ocho, and their deadpan delivery. They’re… winning me over? 

Describing his alter ego:

“Well, he came about in '07. And, you know, he’s kind of always itching at my skin to come out. This alter ego, he likes to take all the notoriety. He’s kind of a pain in the rear end to deal with, but, you know, I’ve got to live with him.”

There was more, though. The questions (and answers) ran the gamut from watching game film to Papelbon’s gambling habits. Some details:

Papelbon and Thome won a lot of money with their NCAA brackets. 

Howard said his rehab is going well. “I repeat, the tendon is fine.” 

Why they came to Philadelphia? Papelbon came to “add to his ring collection.” And for the food. His favorite restaurant is Davios Northern Italian Steakhouse.

Lee: “Before I got here, I heard nothing but bad things about Philly, to be honest with you. And then when I got here, I realized… I didn’t believe it. I was shocked.”

Both Howard, Lee and Thome talked about the city’s history. Not Papelbon: “I’m not big on history.”

Are you going to watch a lot of film on NL hitters? Papelbon: “I don’t watch film. I don’t look at film. I could really care less about film. I just go out there and a pitch. I go from pitch to pitch. I really don’t care about film.”

What gave you the interest to play? Papelbon: “When I was about first grade, I saw Jim Thome play…”

Thome: “And I’m still playing.”

Can you tell us a secret about Charlie Manuel? Lee: “He’s got a lot of silver coins. He’s big into commodities.”

Thome really likes Papelbon.


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What is it like playing with Jim Thome again? Howard: “In 2002, the fan in me was like aw man, the Phillies just signed Jim Thome. The baseball player in me was like, damn, they just signed Jim Thome.”

Thome: “I virtually left because of him… and I don’t mean that as a bad thing… It gave me an opportunity at the time to go to Chicago, which was near my home. We had lost mom to cancer during that time.”

Are you changing your entrance music? Papelbon: “I’m changing it. I still to this day have no clue what I’m going to come out to.”

Tell us something we don’t know about you? Lee: “I’m a Virgo. I’m from Arkansas. I like hunting and fishing. I got two kids, a boy and a girl. That’s about it.

Howard: "I’m a Scorpio. I have an 11-year-old son.”

Thome: “I’m a Virgo. I like hunting and fishing. I got two kids, a boy and a girl.”

Papelbon: “I don’t know what I am, because I’m not into that, really. I’m not into the moon and the stars. Wait, what was the question? I have a near-genius IQ.”