The word “trolling” is overused in the sports portion of the Internet. But there’s no other way to describe Jayson Werth’s actions on Wednesday night. Indeed, the former Phillies outfielder led a master class in fan trolling, from before the game started until just before the game ended, in scenes that were surely replayed in multiple brains throughout the night.
The result? Middle-aged women were howling at Werth in anger, and a Philadelphia sports-radio personality named him “public enemy #1”on Thursday morning. Also, Werth helped his playoff-bound team win a crucial road game, and Philadelphia fans wound up filing sadly out of their half-empty stadium.
See more below.
See, it started before the game, when Werth made off with the keys to the Phillie Phanatic’s four-wheeler, and kept them during his pre-game sprints.
You can see by these images — provided by @JWerthsBeard — that the Phanatic watched Werth doing his warm-ups, giving off as much seething anger and disgust as a green blob can muster.
Then Werth jogged past Phanatic, keys in hand.
Then Werth tossed the keys toward the four-wheeler, in what turned out to be as good a key toss toward a mascot’s vehicle as any human being could possibly muster. See the GIF here.
Off topic, but I was reading some Philip Roth the other night. It’s from The Ghost Writer, when Zuckerman first meets Lonoff, and the famous writer is talking about how he struggles with reading. “At the end of the page I try to summarize to myself what I’ve read and my mind is a blank — I’ve been sitting in my chair doing nothing,” he says. Put me in that camp. I just can’t consume words any more. All I can consume are Internet screengrabs. That’s all I can produce, too. The words slip away, melting away from my brain like an overripe Robiola in the July sun, leaving nothing but a smear of rancid residue and regret, and so all that’s left are images of bearded outfielders being chased by furry green blobs.
Anyhoo. The keys seemed to actually slide underneath the four-wheeler. The Phanatic retrieved them, then pelvic thrusted in Werth’s direction.
And then raised the keys to the crowd in triumph.
And then asked a few Nats why life was so cruel, why we stumble our way around the world consumed by loathing and disgust even while clinging to the earth with all our might, terrorized by what might come next, by the fear that it might be even worse, and by Jayson Werth.
So now we’re in the top of the ninth. The Phillies have closed within one run. The crowd is back into the game. A Nats loss here would lower their division lead to just three games. What fun for the Philadelphia crowd. The Philadelphia television broadcast is filled with audio of fans heckling Jayson Werth, especially after he walks into the on-deck circle. So he fields a foul ball, and pretends to toss it to the crowd, then thinks better of it and gives the ball to the Nats dugout.
“Jayson Werth, he had all the fans, he was ready to toss the ball in the stands,” the Philly TV announcer says. “And all the fans stood up, looking for the ball, and instead of throwing it into the stands, which is what he intended to do, he flipped it into the dugout.”
And also chaos! The boos rain down. Philadelphia fans have their target for the unfairness of life’s charade, and they fill their role with gusto, in the form of saying “BOOOOO” really loud. Watch them here.
Over and over.
Werth’s take: “I was going to flip the ball. There was a group of kids. Behind the kids there were these unruly middle-aged men that to me appeared to be snarling. It’s the ninth. Who knows. I kind of got the sense that maybe they were intoxicated. I was going to flip it to the kids, and then I thought, maybe I shouldn’t, because of the people right behind the innocent little children there.”
There were only two possible things that could happen next. Werth could strike out, and the fans could celebrate, and wave their arms in triumph, and be filled with genuine feelings of joy and elation that this hairy man had been shown, had been defeated, had been denied. Or Werth could single in two runs, filling the Nats fans watching at home with similar feelings of joy and elation, that this hairy man had made up for so much past frustration and pain, had transferred those feelings to the enemy.
“Jayson Werth says boo that,” Bob Carpenter said.
“And he’s sending everybody home,” F.P. Santangelo said.
“A little entertainment on their way to the autos,” Carpenter said.
“Thank you very much, you can all sit down,” Santangelo added.
It was all great fun. If you believe in that sort of thing.