By Kyle Scott-
Many folks will try to excuse Jayson Werth’s “hate” comment as nothing more than a joke in the company of his new boss. Perhaps if it were an isolated incident, I would be willing to do the same, but, unfortunately, since the moment Ryan Howard watched the Phillies season end, Werth has shown nothing but jealousy and contempt for his former club.
He can’t seem to get over the fact that the Phillies wouldn’t approach the type of contract the Nationals offered him. Just days after the season, he sat in front of a room full of reporters and made it clear that he was going to take the big pay day. No one can blame him for that. This was his one shot in his career to get a substantial, life-changing sum of guaranteed money. I dare anyone to say they wouldn’t have done the same thing. However, instead of just admitting that fact, Werth has tried to explain away his decision with a myriad excuses: a better situation, he wanted to win (??), he was doing it for the union, his former club made a mistake… the list goes on.
After Cliff Lee signed with the Phillies, one of the first things we heard from both Lee and Ruben Amaro was Werth’s displeasure with the fact the Phillies signed Lee. Part of that was probably nothing more than friendly banter, but the other part was no doubt drenched in jealousy. Somewhere in his hollow skull, Werth is convinced that he truly deserved the type of contract both he and Lee received. The fact of the matter is Werth is being grossly overpaid to lend some stability to a young, inconsequential franchise.
His very presence, thanks to the larger than life persona he was given by Philly fans, almost makes the Nationals relevant again. Almost. They needed him.
Over the course of the last week, Werth has continued to make his feelings, those bitter jealous ones, known to anyone who is willing to listen.
First, he told reporters that he thought the Phillies could have signed both him and Lee, had they not made the mistake of trading Lee last December. He’s wrong.
While trading Lee was, at the time, a huge mistake, it allowed the Phillies to acquire both Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt to fill his shoes. Now they have all three, plus Cole Hamels (just in case you hadn’t heard). The Big Four would not be the Big Four had Lee not been traded in December. As painful as it is to admit, Amaro was right.
Then, Werth claimed that the Phillies were playing him and Lee against each other in contract negotiations. No they weren’t. It has been well documented that the Phillies and Lee were barely kicking each others’ tires up until the final days before he signed here. Werth was already a National at that point. Plus, the Phillies rightfully didn’t place the same value on Werth, a guy who has never had 100 RBIs in his career, as they did on Lee.
As if that lunacy wasn’t enough, he tried to tell reporters that the only team he is truly a member of is the MLB Player’s Association, and that chasing the money was a way to set the bar for his peers. Yeah, I bet.
Now comes this “I hate the Phillies, too” quote. Whether or not it was said as a joke or as a way to create a rivalry that isn’t there, doesn’t excuse the message behind it. Remember the scene in Swingers, the one where Mikey tried to pass off the dozen or so consecutive messages he left his female conquest as concern that his recording was cut short? Well, that’s the same logic some fans will use to try and excuse Werth’s nonstop ribbing of the Phillies. The fact of the matter is both Mikey and Jayson were (are) obsessed. Otherwise, you don’t keep repeating the same tired refrain, or redialing the chick who won’t pick up her phone. Jealousy is a tough pill to swallow.
Werth should be nothing but grateful for the opportunity he was given in Philly. What’s to hate? The second chance Pat Gillick gave him, the World Series ring on his finger, or the undying fan support (in how many other cities would his beard have been given a Facebook page and Twitter account?) he was given from day one?
Since Werth told reporters he expected to receive the same type of ovation Pat Burrell got upon his return to Philly, let’s compare the two: Pat Burrell left, understanding the business aspect of the sport, and had nothing but great things to say about the team and its fans. He even took out a full page ad in the Daily News, the way so many other grateful athletes do.
Werth, on the other hand? Jealous pontification and second guessing of his former employer, the one that helped him achieve his $126 million pay day.
Boo away, my friends. Boo away.
This article reflects the opinion of Kyle Scott. Kyle Scott is the founder and editor of CrossingBroad.com, one of Philly’s top sports blogs, known for its sarcastic and irreverent take on the Phillies, Flyers, Sixers, and Eagles.