Phillies fans actually cheer for Jayson Werth

Brian Tinsman
August 05, 2018 - 9:46 pm
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Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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He no longer looks like the chiseled champion who helped deliver the 2008 World Series Championship by setting the franchise postseason home run record. Nor does he really look like the baseball Jesus look he had while playing for the division rival Washington Nationals.

But when Jayson Werth took the field on Saturday afternoon as part of the Philadelphia Phillies' celebration of the 2008 team, he was met with a roar of applause. Understandably, the moment meant a lot to him:

"No animosity on my side," Werth told the media before the event. "I get it. You leave the team, you go to a division rival. But I enjoyed those games. That's why I always loved playing in Philadelphia because of the atmosphere and the fans. They're unlike any other fans in sports. I remember stretching with Pat Burrell in Spring Training of '07. I always remembered that he said, 'If we can pull this off, this would be the best place to win.' And that proved to be true."

In fact, Werth pursued two chances to return to play in Philly. The first was the 2010-11 offseason when Philly offered him $65 million to stay. He took nearly twice as much to come to Washington for $126 million.

After his contract in D.C. expired after the 2017 season, he reached out to Phillies manager Gabe Kapler about a reserve job in the outfield, an offer that never materialized. Werth played briefly in the Seattle Mariners' minor league system before hanging up his cleats forever. In retirement, he got the hero's return that he had long awaited.

"When you're playing you always want to do what's best for the team you are on," team closer Brad Lidge told reporters, talking about Werth. "I think that gets confused a little bit. Now that he's done playing, I think the fans will embrace him a little bit. I think they will remember the incredible things he did for this team. 

"Jayson will be the first to say it was nothing personal. He understands it's not personal, the fans will understand that and most of all they'll remember he was ridiculous for this team in the playoffs."

Phillies fans have no reason to hate Werth, but logic isn't a fanatic's strongest skill. Werth took the highest offer in free agency after playing hero for the Phillies and left on what should have been good terms. Despite that, Phillies fans taunted him after he suffered a wrist injury in 2012. He was booed on every trip to Philly for seven years.

Perhaps now, that he has retired from professional baseball, both player and fans can focus on the good times.

 

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