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Saturday, July 10, 2010

Jayson Werth Can Do Better Than This

This year, we have had umpires admit that they made mistakes, including one that cost a pitcher a perfect case. A few days ago, we had Phillies' rightfielder Jayson Werth sprint toward foul territory trying to catch a fly ball. He ran into a dad, who was also trying to catch the ball and who was trying to protect his ten year-old son. That happens a lot, I would think, and you don't read about it.

Except this time, Werth reacted and told the father to stay the bleep out of his way. Werth told the press that he feels bad about it, but he didn't apologize, basically chalking it up to "these things happen in the heat of the game." You can read Bob Brookover's article about the incident, the reaction, and Werth's take in the Philadelphia Inquirer here.

In essence, Werth feels badly about what happened but he didn't apologize. Look, the Phillies are playing relatively poorly compared to the past three seasons, Werth has had his struggles, he's playing for his big contract (he'll be a free agent after this season), and there have been trade rumors that would send him to a contender. Taken together, that can be unsettling for anyone, let alone someone who plies his trade before 45,000 nightly and has to read about his shortcomings (and successes) the next day in the papers. That's a lot of pressure.

But even so, does it justify Werth's cursing out a fan? Of course it doesn't.

Does it warrant an apology? Yes, Jayson, it does. You said it in the heat of the moment, you didn't mean it, similarly situated, you would have gone for the ball whether or not you were trying to protect your son, the fans help your popularity and, amidst a recession, are given your team great attendance, the fans crate the market and the demand for you, and all sorts of reasons. You owe it to the fan and his son to apologize, and it would do well for your image and career to do so too, because it says that you're human, you value the fans, you made a mistake, and you're big enough to admit it with a real apology.

And not an "I'm sorry if what I said upset you," but a real "I know what I did was wrong. I reacted and took my frustration out on you, when I should have been focusing more on the Braves or Reds or whomever. Those who know me know that this is out of character for me. I love the interactions that I have with the fans, and the fans have been very supportive of our team and me. I'm a competitive guy, I want to get every last ball, and, well, in the heat of the moment my emotions got the better of me. I want to make sure that every fan has a good experience at the ball park." Or something along those lines, and perhaps he could meet with the fan and his son before a game, give him an autographed ball and bat and perhaps a few other goodies and end it on a high note.

Because then, in addition, to contributing mightily to a World Champion in 2008, Jayson Werth once again would be acting like a champion.

By the way, many people react to situations the way Jayson Werth did, daily, in the workplace, in extracurricular activities, whatever. And many apologize. Jayson Werth is a human who happens to be a very good baseball player. Behavior like this happens from time to time, especially for people under great pressure and great scrutiny. The power of an apology -- a sincere apology -- helps distinguish the champions from the also rans. I hope that Jayson Werth recognizes this and does the best thing he can do here.


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