It’s Time To Clear The Air On Jayson Werth

It is no mystery that Jayson Werth is a player of interest for every Nationals fan whether it is for good reasons or bad.

All of us are forever grateful for the walk-off solo shot in Game 4 last postseason and for the joy of seeing that golden beard for 162 games (barring injury). We all also see the impact he has on young players like Bryce Harper who practically idolize Werth for good reason. Despite all of these great things, Jayson Werth seems to maintain a reputation amongst a lot of fans for being somewhat cold and arrogant.

As I was sitting in the bar of my hotel knocking back a nice Sam Adams, I had a nice long talk with the bartender. I asked him if he served drinks to any of the Nationals since I knew a few of them are staying or have stayed in this hotel. He told me that he served drinks to Roger Bernadina last week prior to him leaving to represent the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic. From there we talked about the different players on the team and when Werth came up, he said he heard that Werth is “kind of a jerk.”

This is definitely not the first time Werth has been accused of this. Earlier on Friday, some fans were calling him arrogant since it is so tough to get his autograph while various other players like Ian Desmond sign so consistently. But it’s time to go ahead and clear the air on Jayson Werth.

I have met Werth once before. He stopped in his Porsche to sign autographs after a game where he went 2-4 and the Nationals won. When I met him, he signed my authentic Werth jersey and was nothing but nice. Now I am here at Spring Training and have had multiple experiences with Werth where he was a lot of fun and very social. I will even go as far as to say that Werth has the most personality out of every player on this team.

On Tuesday, Werth interacted with fans as he was walking between the batting cages and the field. We all had a good laugh when I told him his beard was awesome and that he was an inspiration to men with beards everywhere. Knowing his reputation, I was a little nervous about how that would go over. But my fears were put to rest when I heard Werth start laughing loudly followed by a friendly “thank you buddy!” I found out later on that he had stopped to sign after the game for a few fans.

On Friday he walked out of the ballpark while on his phone, hung up when I called and came over to sign. He made it clear that as much as he would love to sign for everyone, he wouldn’t have time. However, he stayed for a few minutes and managed to sign for just about everyone. In fact, there were two occasions where he began to walk away and then came back to sign more autographs for fans who weren’t able to get him initially.

Now for the sake of being fair, Werth can be a touchy guy. If the Nationals lose a game or Werth made a few mistakes, don’t expect him to be Mr. Happy. The guy is a pure competitor. He is in it to win it. Also, as this blog found out in 2011, he does not respond well to being photographed. In other words, the man is human.

We all have our quirks. We all have things we do not like. If people were to violate our quirks, would we necessarily respond well? Not really. So why should we expect Werth to? If we work really hard and play our hearts out but end up coming short, would we be in a good mood? Not really. So why should we expect Werth to be? I think a lot of people fail to realize that no matter how famous or talented these players may be, at the end of the day, they are just people like you and me. Werth is no exception to this.

After all of my experiences with Werth, I can honestly say that he does not deserve the negative reputation he appears to have gotten from some Nationals fans. And I am basing this only on the experiences I have had with him. I have also heard from numerous sources that he is a great guy. But their stories and experiences are not mine to tell. But what I can tell is that based on all of my experiences with him, he is a very nice and lively guy who does show a lot of dedication to the fans and, more importantly, the Washington Nationals ball club.

It would be nice if his reputation reflected that and who he truly is instead of these gross misconceptions about the man.

Whoever Is Stealing Stuff From Kids In Viera Deserves The Bastinardo

The NQ apprentice, Dr. W, is down in Viera this week taking in Nationals Spring Training for the first time and he is sending us constant reports and photos that we will be posting up on the NQ as soon as we get them organized.

First up comes a disturbing story of a recent string of thefts coming right out of Space Coast Stadium involving what is known as “The Pit” and bags of Nationals gear and autographs belonging to kids. In three instances someone has stolen bags belonging to kids while they wait down by the field waiting for players to come sign items. Apparently, these thefts have made officials at Space Coast and the Nationals nervous enough to consider closing down the Pit to the public and not having players sign before games.

“The Pit” is a concrete slab just to the right of the Nationals dugout at Space Coast Stadium. It is supposed to be a walkway for grounds crew, media and photographers, but one of the many perks at SCS is they open this walkway to the public before the game so fans can get right down on the field and possibly get autograph and meet-and-greet opportunities with the players.

It was here Dr. W was suddenly thrust into this story as he was somewhat accused of being the perpetrator (as I’ve written before, weirdness always seems to follow him) even though today (Tuesday) was his first time ever at Space Coast Stadium. Here is his report:

While down in the Pit for the first time today there was a Nationals or Space Coast official named “Thomas” who was talking with fans about a recent string of thefts that were happening down in the Pit and it was enough for them to consider shutting the Pit down and telling players not to sign.

Three kids have had bags of memorabilia stolen right from under their noses while down there. SCS knows of these thefts and believe the stuff is being hawked by a regular autograph seeker.

It was at this point Thomas turned and sternly pointed at me and said, “You’re an autograph regular. I think I have seen you quite a bit.”

This, of course, is nuts because this was my first time in Viera and SCS– like ever– and I informed him so.

So there is some jackass in Viera now looking to spoil a good thing for everyone. It would be a damn shame for the Pit to be closed for it offers wonderful opportunities for kids and fans to make contact with their heroes.

I guess the morale of this story is: keep your eye on your gear at all times and if you see some cowardly a**hole nabbing things from little kids, report them to the proper authorities. This poltroon needs to be stopped.

Nationals Finally Deliver The Bombs…Onto Jayson Werth’s Truck

Nationals manager Davey Johnson started playing his potential Opening Day starters (minus those many suffering from ailments currently) on Sunday’s Spring Training game against the Mets and good thing too. The Nationals snapped an 11-game ST losing streak by creaming New York 12-0.

Some guy named Stephen Strasburg pitched five innings of scoreless ball allowing only five hits, one walk and striking out five. A Nationals starter finally got backing from the offense as Ian Desmond, Roger Bernadina and Jayson Werth all went yard in the first inning off some poor sot named Matt Harvey.

Karma probably hit the biggest home run of the day. Werth’s shot was a two-run blast that left the stadium and then implanted itself in the hood of a truck– Jayson Werth’s truck. Don’t worry. Werth has the money to cover the damages.

So the Nats big, bad offense rears its big, beautiful head finally. Is it here to stay? I wouldn’t count on it. I have a feeling it is going to be like a Loch Ness Monster sighting. Eyewitnesses will see some strong movement in the water, maybe a hump or two and then it will disappear with the only evidence it ever happened is some fuzzy long distance video. It doesn’t help the Nats are using a cardboard cutout of an offense thanks to the injuries to Adam LaRoche, Michael Morse and Rick Ankiel.

I just can’t tell you how worrisome this offense is. Really, the stakes are high and it all teeters on the edge of a knife. The Nats and Mike Rizzo really are just depending on the same cast of characters from 2011 who couldn’t hit when they needed to and couldn’t push runs across the plate with a bulldozer. The same cast and they are expected to all of a sudden discover their stroke? They are expected to suddenly “get it?” That is a big risk. Scary stuff, especially considering if any other player goes down with serious injury they have little to no depth to fill the hole.

This team is so fragile. Every slide into a base, every crash into a wall and every strained look on Nats face is going to make me crap myself every time. I expect by season’s end I will have a whole new set of undergarments and spanx.

Thank God I am an Amazon Prime member.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Several of you have asked how I have been doing since our heart-to-heart the other day. Since writing that I have seen a herd of college girls wrapped in nothing but duct tape, one girl running to the bar in nothing but a bikini in the middle of Charlottesville and a Leprechaun.

I am doing great!

Your Nationals Dispatch: Shamrocks And Hamstrings Edition

Well, the NQ survives another St. Patrick’s Day. I hope yours went well. Ours was a little more on the down low this year than in years past. Not as much tomfoolery. It was just barrel of black beer after barrel of black beer. Shockingly the neighbors didn’t call the cops after we blasted the vuvuzela deep into the night.

The Nats played a St. Patrick’s Day Spring Training contest against the Florida Marlins to a 1-1 tie and they wore green hats doing it. It has to be the first time in three years the team got their “green on” for a St. Patrick’s game and I was upset the NQ couldn’t extend our Spring Training trip to catch it.

A lot of people bitched and whined about how ugly the green hats are, they see no point in them, etc. blah, blah, blah. Those people just don’t know how to have fun. I love the green hats and would love to see a green Nationals jersey for the occasion sometime in the future. I was disappointed in the selection of photos coming from the game. Either they were all taken from the side, too far away or I’m just tired of camera phones so we contacted the brilliant Cheryl Nichols over at District Sports Page and she graciously allowed us to use one of her photos from the game of Jordan Zimmermann.

Much better. Absolutely nothing wrong with the green hat. Not as hideous as some were making it out to be. Definitely not as ugly as–

Your Nationals Dispatch.

Bryce Harper Will Not Make It Past Florida’s Hot Gates – It was announced on Sunday that Nationals phenom Bryce Harper was cut from the main Spring Training squad and will be optioned to Triple-A Syracuse where he will learn to play center field and hit lefties. Though obviously a bit disappointed, Harper maintained a positive outlook on the decision and looks forward to being a “game changer” for the Nats in the future.

Absolutely correct decision, correct reaction, everything correct across the board. Harper is going to be a mega player for it and there is no need to start the FA clock a moment earlier. This news should greatly disappoint Yankee fans who will have to put their Harper jerseys on back order for another year.

Xavier Nady Was Brought In To Save Us All – The Nationals signed first baseman Xavier Nady to a minor league deal as insurance in case Michael Morse and/or Adam LaRoche can’t make a go of it on Opening Day due to languishing in lagging injuries.

Please God, let at least Morse return to some sort of health. A field that has both Xavier Nady and Mark DeRosa on might cause my mind to crumble and implode.

And From SB Nation D.C. – Me bitching about the amount of injuries the Nationals are sustaining this Spring, who the hell is responsible and what are they going to do if several of their starters aren’t there on Opening Day.

Answer: The hell that I know.

And that is Your Nationals Dispatch.

(Editor’s Note: I can’t tell you how giddy I am at finally having a National posted on this blog wearing something green on St. Patrick’s Day. It is like I can now scratch something off my blogging bucket list.)

The Graceful Art Of Straining Chien-Ming Wang’s Hamstring

Nationals pitcher Chien-Ming Wang has strained his left hamstring says the Washington Nationals. It happened this afternoon in Viera during a ST contest against the New York Yankees. In the third inning Wang made to tag first base to get a runner, but then wobbled and with the grace of a majestic wooly mammoth flopped over the first base bag sending the Yank into orbit.

I haven’t seen a Yankee go so high since Gettysburg.

That is a real crappy photo of the event above and Deadspin has the video. At this publishing it is unknown if and how long Wang will be out of action, but looking back in the medical history of the Nationals, a “left hamstring strain” usually translates to electric shock therapy and having that bear trap from SAW put on your head. So Wang is screwed.

Assuming Wang is out for a good length of time or his body is shot into space, does this open the door to starter John Lannan to possibly once again root himself in the team’s good graces? Maybe, but he didn’t do himself any favors Thursday afternoon as he was lit up by the Yanks and frankly I think Natstown has tired of him and he was already a memory on the back burner to most.

Another day another injury. If this keeps up Mark DeRosa will be the biggest name on the Opening Day roster knowing Washington’s luck. I am thinking of shipping what healthy Nats we have left to Cloud City to have them frozen in carbonite until Opening Day.

Then I can display them in my dinning room while alien strippers in chains dance for me while I feed my Rancor Phillies fans.

The Post You’ve All Been Waiting For: The Space Coast Ospreys

The NQ has been going down to Viera and Nationals Spring Training for five years now and we’ve picked up on the traditions and culture surrounding the Spring Training Nats experience. I think it was three years ago we threw a bone to the ospreys that make Space Coast Stadium home and we’ve done it every year since so consider this post a continuation of the tradition on reporting on the birds.

Yes, the majestic ospreys are still at Space Coast though they have moved- somewhat. Usually their nest is a large jumble of sticks, plants, bones and old game programs sitting in the lighting in left field. This year we were shocked to find the nest missing from the left field lighting and instead two nests were built, one in the right field lighting and one in the lighting down the first base line.

Not a whole lot of action going on in the right field lights but the ospreys seemed to be parking themselves in the first base line ones so I am guessing that is their new home. No idea what happened to the old nest, I just assume it got too large and the Viera winds claimed it.

My apologies if this post is of no interest to you, but I have to be fair. I have to throw our resident Ornithologists some stroke material every once in awhile.

Strasburg Tries To Blow It By, Guy Who Got Shot Twice In Face Saves NQ

I confess: I’ve been depressed.

It has been hard getting back onto the blogging horse after our short stint in Viera. After being in the thick of it and then having to come back and rely on Youtube videos and second hand accounts, it sort of crushes a man’s soul and makes him question why he deals with all this sh*t to begin with. Seriously, it got so bad I actually sat down and was entertained by Beverly Hills Cop III for awhile. Beverly Hills Cop III– horrible.

Fortunately I was saved by Mike last night at Durty Nelly’s bar. Mike is a retired ex-cop who was shot eight times in the line of duty (including twice in the face) who said something last night that just touched my soul and put everything in perspective. He said: “My dick was harder than Japanese arithmetic.”

And so here we are…

Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals squared off against the Atlanta Braves last night in a Spring Training game under the lights and though the result didn’t end in their favor (Nats lost 6-5 in a hard battle), perhaps the most important lesson learned was by Strasburg who found something just as hard as Japanese arithmetic: getting over his own cockiness and pride.

The Burg gave up two home runs last night, the first in the first inning against Dan Uggla which put the Nats in a 2-0 hole. Uggla is comparable to a neanderthal so it was a bit shocking to see him get the best of Strasburg who is usually a lot smarter than to just plug a fastball down the middle to a fastball hitter, but that is what Strasburg did and later he admitted he was foolish because all he wanted to do was “blow it right by him.” In fact, he down right admits he was just throwing the ball rather than pitching. Nationals Journal:

“My arm feels great, so I’m almost over-throwing because it feels so good,” Strasburg said. “That’s one thing that I have to take a step back and remember what I learned from last year. You have to go out there and pitch. You can’t just throw it by guys.”

I’ve already had a few people ask me if I am “concerned” with the runs Strasburg has been giving up this Spring Training. Absolutely not. It is Spring Freaking Training. Strasburg and the team seem to know what is up and I can’t think of a better place to get those butterflies and jitters ironed out. Stras just has to become one with the mound again and check that cockiness at the door. The scorching Florida sun should make him more than humble to his craft by the time Opening Day hits. Absolutely no worries. This guy is still the stud we know him to be and is still as good as advertised.

There, that first blog post back wasn’t so hard. Thanks, Mike!

–In Brief Relief

–Bryce Harper Goes GQ – Nationals top offensive prospect Bryce Harper will be in the April issue of GQ Magazine and he has some incredibly choice beef quotes and photos. It should make the Nationals totally elated. He went from Twitter to GQ magazine. The kid certainly knows how to leap to larger platforms.

–Black Label Shirts On Hold – The NQ released several new items in our online store including a Black Label Bryce Harper shirt. The shirt actually was just starting to sell like hotcakes, but then Cafepress pulled it because of some problems they had with it. Everyone who ordered one should still get it, but any new orders will be pending or put on hold until we can can work out this mess. I should be on the phone with the company today or tomorrow. Thank you for your patience.

– Special Thanks – To all those who made our brief, but wonderful stay in Viera, well, wonderful. Thanks to Viera, Cocoa Beach and Indiatlantic for being generous hosts. Great thanks to Rich The Mets Fan and Susie for putting us up. Thanks to OddNat, Wiz, Barbara from Bunky’s, Space Coast Stadium and staff, Gio Gonzalez, the Nationals, Florida, America, Earth and anyone else I might have missed that had anything to do with our great time. Thank you, thank you.

If You Indulge Him, Gio Gonzalez Wants To Change D.C. Baseball

Without a shadow of a doubt the most surprising and pleasant thing in Washington Nationals Spring Training camp this season is pitcher Gio Gonzalez. Coming over from Oakland in a four player trade everyone wondered if what the Nationals gave up was too much for one guy. The NQ questioned it as well.

After spending nearly a week in Viera, I can tell you with absolute certainty that the Nationals unbelievably might have really come out on the right side of that trade. Gonzalez is an absolute team player and has assimilated insanely well with the team. He is energetic, hard working, easy to talk to and he gives off an aura that says “I want to be around this guy.” He seems to have a genuine interest in the team and its fans.

On Saturday after morning workouts Gio came off the practice fields and immediately made for the long line of autograph seekers. Most were there for Stephen Strasburg, but many were more than happy to meet Gio, get his John Hancock and have a picture taken. Oddly enough, Gio was more than happy to oblige. He stayed out front of Space Coast Stadium and signed and took pictures with everyone who wanted one. Even more amazing was his willingness to talk to fans and make them feel appreciated.

He talked with fans, answered questions and among some of the interesting things said was he though he missed Oakland he was glad and excited to begin a new chapter to his career in D.C. However the one thing that he said that got everyone fired up was when he said that “they [the 2012 team] was going to change the culture of baseball in D.C.”

Now, we’ve heard this before. In 2008 Ryan Zimmerman after an Opening Night walk-off home run against the Braves declared the team was tired of losing. Three years later and after plenty of losing Jayson Werth came to D.C. saying he wanted to change the D.C. baseball culture as well, but the only thing we got from that was a bunch of changed beard styles and a ridiculous issue with the Presidents Races.

Is Gio the catalyst of change in Washington? It remains to be seen, but talking with him you can sense the passion and excitement behind his words and it isn’t because a paycheck says he has to say such things. He truly believes it. And the sense around the ST camp this year is many other players are either believing or beginning to believe it also.

We’ll see. But I can tell you this: I believe more in Gio Gonzalez than I do the Mayans and their doomsday calendar and if he wants the opportunity and job of changing the baseball culture in Washington, I am more than willing to indulge him.

In Gio I Trust.