Jayson Werth

Jayson Werth hits home run in rare appearance in amateur wooden bat league

Jayson Werth hits home run in rare appearance in amateur wooden bat league

Jayson Werth was in town last weekend when the 2008 world champion Phillies team was honored at Citizens Bank Park. It reminded fans of that glorious run and perhaps gave Werth the itch to get back on the baseball diamond.

Maybe just not a professional diamond.

The Washington Post has a fun story today about Werth suiting up and playing in a regular old men's wooden bat league down in the Washington, D.C. area last month. It all started with a friendship Werth developed with Matt Mika who was injured in the shooting at a Republican Congressional baseball practice in June 2017. The two have kept in touch since and after Werth walked away from his career as a major-league ballplayer this June, he was looking to get some game action in to prepare for the Bluegrass World Series in Lousiville, Kentucky, in August where former MLB stars get together and play.

So Werth reached out to his friend about joining one of his games. Who is going to turn down a chance to see the "Bearded One" take on amateur pitching?

Werth had some funny things to say about the first non-professional field he's played on in over two decades.

“The outfield’s kind of uneven, the infield’s not really level and the batter’s box, it felt like a two-foot hole where your back foot stands. The lights aren’t real bright," he said.

And his quote to the Post about the pitching is pretty hilarious. 

“The velocity of the opposing pitchers wasn’t what I’m used to,” Werth, who drew a walk his first time up, said with a laugh. “It took me a minute.”

But Werth didn't go all Embiid-Dunking-On-a-Rando on them. He had some misses. He finished 1 for 4 with a home run and a walk.

And like Embiid playing at a local playground with randos, Werth made both teams' and spectators' days simply by being a good sport.

I always thought the dislike for Werth in Philly after he left the Phillies to play on an incredibly lucrative contract in Washington was misguided. All he ever did in Philly was win a championship and be a fun guy to root for.

Last we heard from Werth, he was telling us about how he's already spoken to Bryce Harper about what playing ball in Philly is like. If Bryce doesn't end up playing for the Phillies when he hits free agency, maybe Werth can always come back and join a Philly area wooden bat league?

Anyway, he can still put good wood on the ball as demonstrated in the below home run swing.


More on the Phillies

It's time to change the narrative about Philly sports fans

It's time to change the narrative about Philly sports fans

Old narratives often die hard in network television. Especially when it comes to sports broadcasting. 

Game in New York, you’re almost guaranteed to see an aerial shot of the Statue of Liberty or Times Square. Redskins play on a Thursday night, Lincoln Memorial. Chicago, Lake Michigan scenic shot. Philadelphia, cheesesteaks being fried on the grill at Pat’s and Geno’s or the Rocky statue. You can almost book it.

What you can also bank on is a producer in New York or L.A. (usually not from Philadelphia) pre-producing a package that week leading into a nationally televised game in which snowballs being thrown at Santa Claus or something of that ilk is referenced. If it’s not done in the package, the subject is injected or introduced to the lead broadcasters in the production meetings leading up to said game. The old Philadelphia-fans-are-knuckle-dragging-cretins angle. 

It’s tired. It’s lazy. It’s predictable. And it’s gone on for years. It’s the easiest way to push the buttons of a Philadelphia sports fan. But there may be an end in sight to the false narrative.

Take the last couple of years for example. Let’s go back to the 2017 NFL draft, held at the Ben Franklin Parkway. It was a game-changer for the league. The outdoor setting was perfect, the weather could not have been better, but it was the fans that stood out. They came out in droves. They lustily cheered on anything the Eagles did. They had fun with the commissioner, booing him upon first sight — and Roger Goodell played along beautifully. They jeered Drew Pearson, who attempted to give them the business. Brian Westbrook responded in kind the next day. Philly fans showed the world what passion was those three days. The NFL noticed. So did virtually every national broadcaster.  

Fast-forward to last season with the Eagles and the absolute domination by the fans at road games. This was nothing new but it was taken to a different level in 2017. Exhibit A, the Chargers' game in L.A. was an absolute takeover; it was an Eagles home game. Other cities do not travel that way. 

Then on to the Super Bowl championship parade. Broad Street and the Parkway covered in a sea of green with a jolly green giant dressed in a Mummers suit speaking for all those misrepresented fans who didn’t have that platform. It was epic. 

To the baseball team over the course of the last month. Chase Utley returned to a three-day love-fest. And this past weekend, a stirring, heart-wrenching speech from Brandy Halladay, the wife of the late Roy Halladay, about how this city has embraced her and her family through their most trying time. The weekend was capped off by nothing but cheers for prodigal son, Jayson Werth. Instances like Werth’s introduction — if it was anything but warm — would have been chum for the national narrative that Philadelphia fans are the worst.  

Lastly was Brian Dawkins' induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Not surprisingly, his devotees showed up in droves, outnumbering any other group. Dawkins closed his speech acknowledging and thanking them. It was a perfect ending to an emotionally draining oration. Oh, by the way, 40,000 people showed up for a practice Sunday evening at the Linc.

Who knows if any of the above evidence will end the false perception put forth by the Michael Wilbons, Colin Cowherds and Skip Baylesses of the world. Not to mention those network suits. 

Perhaps it was Union supporters, Sons of Ben, echoed by esteemed philosopher and poet, Jason Kelce, who put it best:

“We’re from Philly, f------ Philly, no one likes us, we don’t care.”

More on the Eagles

What did Jayson Werth say to impending free agent Bryce Harper about Philadelphia?

What did Jayson Werth say to impending free agent Bryce Harper about Philadelphia?

Looks like it was a good idea to cheer Jayson Werth this weekend, Phillies fans.

The veteran outfielder, who left the Phils for a big-money contract with the rival Nationals, had bad blood with fans after his departure. With the feud behind him, Werth returned to Citizens Bank Park this weekend for the reunion of the 2008 World Series champions to a great ovation.

While talking to reporters Sunday, Werth was asked what he would say to former Washington teammate Bryce Harper — a former NL MVP and impending free agent — about Philadelphia if the young outfielder asked.

"I think he already has asked me about Philadelphia,'' Werth said.

And?!

"Isn't that tampering?'' he said with a laugh.

"It’s a great place to hit,” Werth added. “I’ve always loved hitting here. I’ve shared that among other things about this place. He’s a dynamic player for sure."

It’s kind of interesting that Harper asked the former Phillie about what it was like playing in Philly. Perhaps it was a general question that Harper asked Werth ahead of one the Nats’ series at CBP. Or maybe Harper asked Werth with his future free agency in mind.

Of course, a former Phil was asked a similar question not that long ago. Chase Utley was asked what he would say to new Dodger Manny Machado — also a free agent after the season — about Philadelphia.

"If you want to play in front of great fans that want to win in a beautiful ballpark, as long as you can deal with the humidity, go for it," Utley said.

Harper, a six-time All-Star, has had a down year, hitting just .231. He’s still managed to slug 26 homers and lead the NL with 88 walks. At 25, he’s just entering his prime. 

The Phillies have plenty of money to spend and look like a team on the rise. Imagine adding a young, exciting player like Harper into the mix. Imagine adding Harper and Machado. 

In reality, Machado probably makes more sense. The former Oriole wants to play shortstop, a position Matt Klentak was forced to upgrade with veteran Asdrubal Cabrera. Also, the Phillies outfield looks suddenly deep with Rhys Hoskins and Odubel Herrera and also the emergence of Nick Williams and more recently Roman Quinn. 

Expect stiff competition for Harper and Machado’s services. The Nationals will surely attempt to keep Harper and big market teams like the Yankees, Cubs and Dodgers will also be among suitors for both All-Stars.

More on the Phillies