So, you’re begging for something else to hate about the Nats? Okay.
Unfortunately, I find it impossible to hate all of the current Nats players.
For example, Ian Desmond is impossible to dislike. He may be one of the nicest guys ever to play the game. I won’t go into his charity works and general all-round good guy stuff, but it’s incredible, and he does very little to publicize it. He’s a prince of a guy, for real.
I didn’t like Adam LaRoche when he was in a Tomahawk, but that was more about what I perceived as his lackadaisical approach to the game. He’s universally liked in the baseball world, from what I hear, so I guess I am willing to accept the collective wisdom of the horsehide fraternity.
Ryan Zimmerman is another guy that I think is just difficult to say anything bad about. He keeps his mouth shut, hardworking, plays the game the right way, and does some charity work offseason. He’s managed to stay poised through his tortured descent into Knoblauch’s Disease, and that is not always easy. But Boswell, F.P. and every beat writer for the Nats have hyped him up to Brooks Robinson stature. And as a result of this tripe, you won’t find a Nats fan who doesn’t believe he’s the top third baseman in the league, so it’s fun watching them try to explain why he just fielded a one hopper and beaned some 10 year old behind the Nats dugout with his throw.
(Aside: He’s done at third. Seriously – he can’t play there anymore. Some of it is a weak arm, but most of it is between his ears. We’re one short step away from getting the hypnotist from The Natural.)
Stephen Strasburg is another guy I can’t dislike. I’ve heard him speak at some Nats fan events, and he comes across as really sincere, really hardworking, and (maybe overly) brainy. Seems very grounded and not at all stuck up.
Anthony Rendon again is just likeable. He’s just a goofy kid having a good time.
Enough, you say! Enough of these gentlemenly Nationals — where are the scoundrels and poltroons, so that I may feed the ever-ravening maw of my Nats hatred?
I hear and obey:
- The Kid
- Danny Espinosa
- Jayson Werth
Okay, let’s get him out of the way. A lightning rod for sure. And just as I am about to cut him some slack, he gets benched for lack of hustle by his skipper.
You’ve all seen the incidents: beating the bat that decides to beat back, the umpbaiting, helmetthrowing, the eyeblack, the idiotic baserunning, the arrogant, Puigish airing out the arm and missing the cutoff man, etc. One scout cited him as having the worst character makeup he had ever seen in all his years in the game.
I hate hubris. It’s easy to hate. After the signing of first Strasburg and then Harper, the hubris reached truly mythological levels around here. Strasburg was the best pitcher ever to touch a baseball. Harper was a 17 year old Babe Ruth who didn’t drink. Their Satanic snake oil salesman, Scott Boras, called them “50 year players.” That is, the kind of player that comes around only every fifty years. And the entire DC area, including the stingiest owners in baseball, lapped it up like honey.
Harper and Strasburg were a) completely and scarily dominant at the levels they had played at and b) completely unproven at any higher stage. Did they have the tools to excel for years in the majors? Absolutely. Would they? Anybody’s guess. That’s baseball. There’s injury, there’s burnout, there’s washout, there’s just plain being overhyped.
I guess I am divided on Harper. It’s not his fault that Skip or Woody or Tony thinks he’s the best player ever to play the game or whatever. It’s if Harper thinks he’s that player that would make him hateable in my book.
Does he? Really not sure that he does, and even if he once did, I think he’s maturing in this regard. (.275 with 59 RBIs in a full season might do that to you.) Still a ways to go, no doubt. I recall Ken Griffey Jr. had some immaturity to work through as well when he came up as a teenager.
I’ve seen him at some events and he doesn’t come off as arrogant or snotty. The on-field mistakes seem to be fewer and farther between. As I said elsewhere on Braves Journal, he strikes me as a good teammate, and the kind of litmus test player you love (or at least excuse) if he’s on your team and hate if he’s not.
So the question for me becomes: when you’ve got a player whose fans think he is the real life Roy Hobbs, Willie/Mickey/Roberto all in one fauxhawked package, is it fun to watch that guy strike out, get picked off base in silly ways, or misplay a routine bloop single into extra bases?
Yeah, it is. Since he’s not on the Braves, hate away.
A big swellheaded baby. He’s a decent defender who insists he’s a switch hitter, and he’s not. .220 lefty, .265 righty. Refuses all suggestions that he give it up and hit from the right side of the plate. Why? Cause he’s a switch hitter, dummy!
Last year, he was hitting .158 (his OPS+ was 27!) midseason and the Nats sent him down to Syracuse. In fairness, he was playing with a hairline fracture in his wrist for part of it. But he refused any suggestion that he go on the DL or take some time off. Why? Cause he’s a big leaguer!
They finally DLed him. Rendon came up and played very well, so they sent Danny down to Syracuse to rehab. How did he respond? Why, he trashed his locker like a two year old. Why? Cause he’s a big leaguer, dummy! He’d been in the big leagues three whole years: you don’t treat a vet like that!! And then in Syracuse, they moved him back to short (his real position) in hopes of getting some trade interest. But he hit .216 down there. So, nope.
He’s back in the bigs and is now making the most of Zimmerman’s DL stint. Not a terrible player, just mediocre, except in the ego department, where he’s an All-Star. If I were a career .232 hitter with 4 tenuous years under my belt, I think I’d maybe keep my mouth shut and go where I’m told.
Now, this is the guy. Hubris? Oh, baby.
This guy was signed to maybe the worst contract in baseball. 7/125, for lifetime .274/.366/.470 –another Boras special. His first year with the Nats he hit .236. The second year he broke his arm. If you hate BJ’s contract, (and I do, and did when it was announced) imagine this: in 2017, BJ is going to be 32 and making 17 million. Werth is going to be 37 and making 21.5 million.
You may recall that after the Nats were awarded the World Series in spring training last year, the NL actually decided to play out the schedule anyway for fun. And the Braves beat them like a rented mule. Up 16 in August, coasted to ten games ahead, beat them head to head like the Nats owed ‘em money.
And Jayson Werth thinks that the Nats actually did win the World Series, in the alternate Played on Paper Universe. He’s been quoted as saying that they were the best team in baseball going into October, and the team to beat. But for that little tiny flaw of, you know, not actually making the playoffs. Hey, the Nats win most of their games on paper.
Being the most overpaid player in the game has not in any way made Jayson humble. Jayson said last month that hitting a baseball was the hardest job in the world – meaning that he could do a job that no one else could and therefore we should adore him, and pay him $125 million. Stupid pediatric neurosurgeons – can you hit a major league slider? Didn’t think so.
My best Jayson Werth story: I was at Natsfest, their winter fan event, and he was on a panel. Every question he was asked, he gave a grumpy, sarcastic answer to. (I believe he thinks he is the clubhouse raconteur, at least from his attitude, and the way Harper laughed at his every word, like he was Ed McMahon.) At the end, a nice woman in a Nats jersey raised her hand and said “Thanks for coming.” And Jayson says, “We didn’t have a choice.”
That’s right, Jayson. In exchange for the 20 million dollars you are receiving to play a child’s game, you are required to spend exactly one four-hour day appearing for the great unwashed fools who actually pay for your salary. Life sucks, huh? So why not let the hoi polloi know that they’re trash, and that he’d rather be anywhere else than here, mingling with the rubes.
He’s a jerk.
FINIS. That’s about all the hate I got. I didn’t want to do it — honestly, sincerely. I wanted to support my hometown team, in a city that lost its team not once but twice, a city that ought to have a team if any does, if I possibly could.
But they made me this way. It’s not my fault.