Results tagged ‘ Jayson Werth ’

12/16/10 – “We’d like to introduce…”

At three 0’clock yesterday afternoon, I got very excited. At 3:01, I had the chills. Cliff Lee was back, wearing a Phillies uniform again. This time, for good. At the end, I became a giddy schoolboy. I don’t think I’ve been this excited for an upcoming baseball season… and this is after four straight years of baseball nirvana. Excellence on the diamond has almost become old hat for the Phillies, but with the addition of Lee, this just turns it up to 11.

You could see it everyone’s faces. The moderator, Phillies Public Affairs Director Scott Palmer, stood in front of the podium to introduce Ruben Amaro Jr. and Cliff Lee. Scott has a very distinctive smile, one that all Philadelphians know from his days on Channel 6. I saw that smile firsthand the night of the Phantasy Camp Orientation. It’s a truly genuine smile…. So there he stood, in the corner of the press room… the same room I started my Orientation in… and beamed. He beamed like a little kid on Christmas morning. His joy over the return of Cliff was clearly obvious.

Ruben spoke first and had the exact same smile. This was more than just landing a big free agent. This was bringing pure elation to a loving and devoted fanbase. Amaro has been a Phillie from birth: From his father, a former Phillie, to growing up in the area, to having two tours with the team as a player, to working his way up through the front office to General Manager… today, he was simply a fan.

After the press conference was over and Amaro had handed Cliff his old number 33, MLB Network’s Matt Yallof and Phantasy Camp Legend Mitch Williams (both Comcast Philadelphia alumni) interviewed Lee. Mitch, who makes no bones about the fact he is still a tried and true Phillies fan, also fell under Lee’s spell. As comfortable he was questioning him and being as objective as possible, you could see how excited he was about his return… the whispering, the joking around… A truly special time in the franchise’s history has been taken to a whole new level.

Other than his constant reiterations about how much he wanted to be in Philadelphia and play for this team, the one statement that actually got me to say out loud, by myself, “yes”, came after a question about Lee “leaving money on the table” and not taking the much bigger contracts offered to him by the Yankees and Rangers:

“I guess I did. I mean, I could potentially earn this in a shorter term, so whatever. It’s plenty of money. When you hit a certain point, enough is enough. It’s a matter of where you’re comfortable, where you’re happy, where your family is most comfortable, what team gives you the best chance to win.”

Two hours earlier, about 90 miles south of Citizens Bank Park, Jayson Werth was introduced to the Washington Nationals. If you saw the press conference or have been reading Werth’s comments, you know that the Phillies-Nationals games will be very interesting now.

But my favorite quote of the day from Werth easily had to be this:

“I’ve been to the postseason a lot the past few years, and that’s what it’s all about.”

*thud*

12/14/10 – Cliff Lee


I eagerly woke up this morning to watch the MLB Network’s coverage of last night’s absolutely shocking signing of Cliff Lee by the Phillies. Instead, I was treated to a replay of Game 1 of the 2009 World Series… the game that solidified Lee’s folk hero status in Philadelphia. Because of the circumstances that revolved around this World Series with my father passing away the morning of the last game (and the fact the Phillies lost the Series), I have refused to watch any of the games again. This time, it was completely different. When I turned on the TV, the game was in the third inning, Phillies up, no score, Chase Utley at bat. Home run. All the excitement and emotion from that night came flooding back. Lee’s complete domination that night, combined with his cool-as-a-cucumber demeanor, brought such incredible hope to every fan. We could win our second World Series in a row. Even better, we could do it against the Yankees.

As was the routine, my dad and I called each other as soon as the game finished. Just like he did to every Phillies fan, Lee won over my dad almost instantly. In fact, I don’t think there was ever another Phillie my dad was so thrilled about to don the red and white pinstripes. He LOVED Cliff Lee. On this night, my dad’s voice had as much excitement in it as he had after Game 5 of the 2008 World Series. We could not stop lauding his performance that night.

——————–

A little more than a month after my father’s passing, the Phillies traded away Cliff Lee in a three-team deal that brought Roy Halladay to Philadelphia… the original plan for the ’09 trade deadline. This was easily THE most bittersweet deal any Philadelphia sports team had manufactured. I was thrilled to have Halladay, but my baseball heart was absolutely broken over the departure of Lee. I thought about my dad and how deeply disappointed he would have been over this move. I was able to hear every word of his hypothetical tirade. Even with Halladay living up to every dream of Phillies fans, I know my dad would still be watching Cliff Lee’s progress with the Seattle Mariners, and later the Texas Rangers. And I know his performance in the postseason with the Rangers, who went further than the Phillies, would get him cracking open a couple extra cans of Coors Light to ease the pain.

——————-

What happened last night was magical. 

A week ago, the Phillies were the victim of a free agent signing that rocked the GM Winter Meetings. Jayson Werth left an incredible situation in Philadelphia to simply go where the money was… his sole intention. The Washington Nationals’ massive contract to Werth was eye-opening. Werth’s decision to commit to a less-than-stellar baseball club was head-shaking (I had plenty of opinions about this, so I’m not going to bother wasting more time on that subject).

Last night, the Phillies were involved in an even more Earth-shattering transaction… something practically no one saw coming. At the 11th hour, Cliff Lee gracefully declined the two extremely generous offers given to him from the Rangers and Yankees, both considered the favorites and only two teams in the running, and signed with a “mystery team” that spun the rumor mill to dangerous speeds. That team? The Philadelphia Phillies. 

Unlike Werth, he chose a team that he wanted to play for, not who gave him the most lucrative contract. Lee and his family adored Philadelphia during his first stint with the club, and he made it very clear that he was disappointed he was being shipped out. Now he had the chance to return and he took it. Yes, he still got paid very handsomely (5 years/$100 million with a 6th year option. Total: $120 million). However he left upwards of $41 million on the table by not accepting either of the offers from the Rangers or Yankees. This was not completely about the money. This was simply about being happy. Cliff Lee was already a legend to Phillies fans. This decision just upgraded him to “mythical god” status. 

Apart from the obvious thrill that comes from this reacquisition, what is really making this move emotional for me is knowing that somewhere, my dad is jumping up and down in joy. His favorite player has returned to the Phillies. And he returned for all the right reasons. 

Now I can watch Game 1 again… not with sadness, but with eternal hope and a very warm heart.

Welcome back Cliff.

12/5/10 – Jayson Werth

Other than the actual events that occur on the field during the regular season, my favorite time of the sports year is the Major League Baseball off-season. The wild rumors, the complicated trades, the ridiculous contracts…. I LOVE it. Even if it doesn’t involve the Phillies, I thrive on the annual ebb and flow of tidal player movement. However, there is one aspect of these games that usually leave me leaning over the side of the boat. What happened late this afternoon made me want to jump off.

Major League baseball is a game. I also understand that it is a business. There is a LOT of money to be made and no one can be blamed for wanting a big piece of that particular pie. It’s like anything else in life. We consistently work hard year after year for the prospect of getting properly compensated for our job well done. Some of us are lucky enough to be working hard at something we love… something that other people only can dream of. Sometimes that always doesn’t equal to a hefty paycheck at the end of the day.

Sometimes it does… very handsomely.

——————–

I have been playing music for the good part of 20 years. When I was a teenager in my first band, I could not imagine getting paid millions upon millions of dollars just to play drums. Someone was willing to pay someone like me to sit behind my kit and play music all day? An absolute dream. I love playing the drums so much. I have been willing to spend countless hours in dank rehearsal rooms, stuffy recording studios and empty venues for the sheer pleasure of writing and performing music. My compensation? Gas money and a few free beers. Also, and most importantly, the extreme satisfaction of being able to exhibit my craft to others around the world, something lots of people are completely envious of.  I could never put a price on that.

Before I would spend my days imagining opening up for U2 at a sold out Spectrum, my plans were centered around my skills in the outfield and how they would benefit the Phillies. Almost immediately, I realized there wasn’t going to be a snowball’s chance in hell that was going to happen. Still, that didn’t stop me going out on the field, wearing nasty polyester uniforms in stifling heat for teams that lost by a couple touchdowns, shagging fly ball after fly ball, and barely hitting over .200. Why? I adored it. It’s a glorious game that still continues to bring me incredible satisfaction. And like the drums, I could not imagine being so incredible at your craft that someone would be willing to lay out a significant amount of money for your talents.

The minimum salary imposed by the Major League Baseball Player’s Association is $400,000 a year. Four hundred thousand dollars… to play baseball. Four hundred thousand dollars to travel the country and play a child’s game in front of tens of thousands of fans every single night. Where do I sign up? Hell, you could give me minimum wage and I’ll still be first in line to enroll.

In 2010, Phillies rightfielder Jayson Werth earned $7.5 million. In his four years with the club, he earned just over $12 million. In those four years, he also went to the postseason four times, twice to the World Series, and once, able to call himself a World Champion. He was an all-star on and off the field. He was THE rock star of the Phillies. Women loved him and guys wanted to be him. This off-season saw Werth become a free agent, and with his exemplary play, was due to earn a new and healthier contract. A lot of teams were very interested in his services, including the Phillies who wanted him to return. The Phillies were most likely not able to dole out the amount of money some other clubs could, but with the extremely positive state of the Phillies as it currently stands, one would think that any reasonably compensating contract would be completely satisfactory.

But, as any baseball fan knows, this scenario usually does not come out on the right side for a club like the Phillies, no matter who they are. Today was no different.

Today, Werth did not sign with the Red Sox. Not the Yankees. Not the Tigers. Not the Angels. Not even the Phillies. Instead, in a deal that came completely out of leftfield (or rightfield as it may), Werth signed an incredible 7-year, $126 million deal with perennial National League East basement-dwellers, the Washington Nationals. That’s $18 million a year to play for a team that will most likely not be sniffing at postseason play for a good number of years. Yes, they have Ryan Zimmerman. Yes, they have Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper waiting to burst on to the scene (again for Strasburg). But at this point, this team is still trying to build any sort of foundation. There is no logical reason for a player to give up a situation like he had in Philadelphia for the one in D.C.. Sure, we do not know if there were any personal issues that would want to make him leave Philadelphia. We may not know the whole story, but it was no secret that he and his super agent Scott Boras were going for the gold. The Phillies were willing to give it up. As were the Red Sox. The Nationals gave him just a bit more… a few more years and a few more millions.

That’s all that mattered to him.

——————–

As it has been for the last 20 or so years, a large number of people have paid a good sum of money for a single five-day trip to Florida for the rare privilege of getting a very small taste of what it’s like to live the life of a Major Leaguer. Even though there is an exact dollar amount associated with this camp, I know for a fact that my experience will be completely priceless. This is chance for me to live out a dream that I have been having since my childhood… the same dream that players like Werth also had, but now are actually living it out, playing a game and getting to showcase his talents to the delight of millions of fans, all while achieving the ultimate reward in being called the best in baseball.

That’s all that should matter to him.

7/6/10 – Cleared to Participate

Today I received my annual checkup to satisfy the Camp’s health requirements to attend in January. I’m proud to say, unlike a good portion of the Phillies at the present moment, I have been “cleared to participate in baseball activities”. However, unlike the current roster of the Phillies, the great majority of my “baseball activities” include watching the MLB Network on my couch, in air-conditioning, usually with an alcoholic beverage of some sort in my hand (after 5 PM of course… depending on which country I feel like being in at that moment). Although, based just on that, coaching/playing on two slow-pitch softball teams, and my long hair and constant facial scruff, I think that gets me at least a cup of coffee on the ’93 squad.

Werth and I know something about the outfield and hair maintenance.

Along with the signed health history form, I also mailed my check for the remaining balance of the Camp tuition. Six months seems like an eternity right now.

Just like how long it would be for me to turn 30 years old as a little kid.

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