Let’s face it, as much as the Nationals fans want to call the Nats-Phillies games a rivalry, it just isn’t. To have a true rivalry, you would need both stadiums to be packed so much that opposing fans can’t take over a ballpark.
For the next three nights, Washington will become Philly south. Yeah, Nationals Park will be a see of red, only the word “Phillies” will dominate the shirts and jerseys adorning the fans in the crowd. Oh, and the cheers for the Phillies will resonate from the first row of right field to the upper decks.
But, Werth says you won’t be able to get in Nationals Park in a few years. He likens you to Mets fans in a way. Says Mets fans used to own Citizens Bank Park back in 2007 when he first donned a Phillies uniform. But, not now.
“Last year when we played the Mets, there weren’t any Mets fans in the seats,” Werth told the Washington Post. “They wouldn’t dare come down. I think four years from now, it’ll be the same way in Washington. Or sooner.”
Um, Jayson, you need to win a bit more and hope Washington has fans who care as much as we do.
On that note, Werth was asked about the Nationals two-game winning streak. Here’s what transpired:
Jayson Werth facing the Phillies for the first time with the Nationals
Jonathan Newton/ WASHINGTON POST – Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth on the Phillies: “I’ve kind of closed the book on that time in my life.”
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By Adam Kilgore, Monday, April 11, 11:50 AM
NEW YORK – On Tuesday night, when Jayson Werth plays against the team with which he became a star, a World Series champion and a very, very rich man, he knows what he can expect at Nationals Park. Busloads of his old fans will overrun his new home. They, being from Philadelphia, will probably boo him. He’s okay with that.
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This is why: Werth can remember his first days in Philadelphia, back in 2007, before the Phillies won four straight National League East titles. He remembers the New York Mets fans who rode I-95 to Philadelphia and packed Citizens Bank Park. He remembers, too, when it stopped happening.
“Last year when we played the Mets, there weren’t any Mets fans in the seats,” Werth said. “They wouldn’t dare come down. I think four years from now, it’ll be the same way in Washington. Or sooner.”
What transpires the next three days, at some point, will become a rote occurrence. Over the next seven years, Werth should play against the Philadelphia Phillies 126 times as a member of the Washington Nationals. Now, though, nine games into Werth’s new life, it is still fresh enough to provide the dominant story line and, maybe, a spark within Werth.
“He’ll probably have a lot more energy Tuesday than he has had all year,” said Nationals pinch-hitter Matt Stairs, Werth’s teammate for two seasons in Philadelphia.
This weekend, Werth would not reveal that much. Saturday, he stood at his locker surrounded by reporters, one of them from Philadelphia, who peppered him with questions about his former team. Werth often says he lives in the moment and does not look ahead, not even three days.
“Why are we talking about Philly so much?” he asked.
The question that prompted his own question? Does Werth find himself looking at the Phillies’ box score? The answer: No.
“If I see something on ‘SportsCenter’ or a highlight or something, I’ll see what they’re doing,” Werth said. “But I’ve kind of closed the book on that time in my life. Although later on in life, I’ll probably open that book often and I’ll go back and sift through the memories. Right now, there’s enough to keep me occupied and pay attention to. It’s kind of insignificant to me what exactly is going on there.”
After Werth, upon request, ticked off some favorite memories from Philadelphia – the World Series parade, Stairs’s game-winning, pinch-hit home run in the playoffs, that time he stole home — he wondered aloud if there were any questions about his current team’s circumstances.
“Nice winning streak,” one television reporter offered.
“Two?” Werth asked. “Is that a streak?”
“For the Nationals,” the reporter replied, “it is.”
“I don’t like your tone,” Werth said.
A day later, the comment still irked Werth. He is fiercely adamant that the Nationals’ reputation, colored by 298 losses in three seasons, will transform. Since he signed his contract this winter, Werth has emphasized his desire to “help change the perception of baseball in Washington.” That includes eradicating the sentiment that two wins counts as a streak.
“I didn’t appreciate it at all,” Werth said Sunday. “That’s more of the old type thing, what used to be here, what used to happen here. It’s not going on here anymore. I know it’s going to take some time to kind of shift and change some minds. I have no problem with that. I just think that we have a team that the town can respect and come out and support.”
Yeah, Jayson, it might take more than three years to change the culture in DC. Good luck to ya’.