The miracle of the Sixers’ over .500 record was outdouched by a tear-soaked hatefest that began, like so many conversations about the Phillies before it, with a smattering of obscenities.
“I hate the fucking Phillies.”
–Washington Nationals GM Mike Rizzo
Mike Rizzo is a man with the shape and hairlessness of a doorway. He is in charge of constructing the roster of the Washington Nationals, a franchise with very few wins and even less respect from their competitors. It’s like being the only guy with a key to a filthy, diseased bathroom.
Rizzo is in the middle of slapping on a pair of yellow rubber gloves and detoxifying his home, after spending the offseason making acquisitions of players people have actually heard of, and allowing the top draft picks his team’s last place standing has gained him over the course of a few years. The end result has been a Nationals team that has the potential to produce sveral All-Stars and be the first competitive version of itself in history.
One of the players Rizzo snared–the first one, actually–was a fella named Jayson Werth. Jayson was a young beard enthusiast playing right field for the Phillies for the last four years. He came up through the Dodgers organization, believing far more in himself than anyone of his coaches did. A misdiagnosed wrist injury put him on the bench, and at this point, the hate in him began to breed.
The Phillies reached out and gave him a chance in 2006, but it wasn’t until Jayson handed Phillies manager Charlie Manuel mysterious video tape that things began to change. And not even in a murderous way like I’m insinuating.
The tape contained footage of Jayson making awesome plays, and impressed Charlie so much that he gave Jayson more playing time, eventually earning himself a starting spot in the lineup, a World Series ring, and a place in our hearts.
As a free agent after our sad trombone of a playoff run in 2010, we knew Jayson was leaving Philly behind, most likely for Boston or New York. But then the Nationals offered him more money than the GDP of a third world country and he, of course, followed the $126 million down the rabbit hole.
Following his GM’s example like a happy puppy, Jayson has taken to his new role with verbal tenacity.
“I hate the Phillies, too.”
It’s hard to leave Philadelphia. Not like “New Jersey” hard, where they don’t charge you to come in but then demand money if you try to leave. What I mean is, there are few people who can maintain the love of the crowd in Citizens Bank Park while wearing different colors. Matt Stairs can probably do it. But Jayson Werth may have been the ultimate test–a five-tool player who was nothing but a grand contributor, except for those times he fell out of the batter’s box taking a hack at a ball close to the sky. If we can’t love him after the fact, we can’t love anybody.
But Jayson beat us to the punch. No matter the context of the remark (You kind fo think he said knowing the repercussions of him saying it), there are tens of thousands of us at every game. There’s a small chance a large group of people will have misinterpreted a comment as unsubtle and unprovoked as Jayson’s as an insult. The Nationals are interested in transforming themselves from MLB’s white chalk outline on the sidewalk to a team that people don’t laugh at when they look at the schedule.
So, accept J-Dub’s hatred. Roll in it. Get it’s scent on you.
Because it’s not going away.