It's been less than a day since Cole Hamels plunked Bryce Harper in the series finale with the Nationals, and in that time, things have gone from crazy, to downright nutty.
First, Cole Hamels got suspended five games stemming from the incident, then Nats GM Mike Rizzo called Hamels “gutless” for his action, and now, former Phillie Jayson Werth is casting a pox on the organization.
In an email to the Washington Post, Werth made his not-so-private feelings known about Phillies fans, following his treatment after Sunday night's game, where he broke his left wrist when diving for a ball in right field.
“After walking off the field feeling nauseous knowing my wrist was broke and hearing Philly fans yelling ‘You deserve it,’ and, ‘That’s what you get,’ I am motivated to get back quickly and see to it personally those people never walk down Broad Street in celebration again,” Werth wrote.
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It's a rivalry, everyone!
In seriousness, this is sort of getting out of hand. Philly fans have always had a reputation of being insensitive, brash, rude, and so on -- and to be fair, it's the result of a small, but vocal minority group of pinheads mucking about -- and I don't, for any instant, think that Werth's comments were at all insincere. It's become a personal matter for him, as some of the fans who used to cheer him are now jeering him and reveling in the fact that he got hurt.
And again, it's the vocal minority. I'm sure there were Phillies fans in attendance who weren't doing such a thing, and in truth, just about every Phillies fan that I correspond with on Twitter were not happy to see Werth break his wrist. We all recognize what he did for the team, and moreover, what kind of talent he is, and no one actually wants to see anyone get hurt like that, much less root for it or cheer it. It's one thing to root against a guy, but another thing altogether to applaud such misfortune.
But, that's what happens when fans become jaded by a player's decision to leave town. Regardless of what happened when they were with the team, the moment they put on another team's jersey is the moment that all bets are off. Personally, I do not subscribe to that logic, because I feel you can root for the Phillies while simultaneously wishing the best for former players. Except, of course, when you face off against their team.
I'm not a czar of fan behavior, and I don't think there needs to be a body that governs how fans act, but sometimes, just sometimes, I wish there was. That way, former players wouldn't have a chip on their shoulder when they leave town, and there wouldn't be another “Phillies fans cheer injured player” story every three weeks.
But, if there is one positive thing to come out of this whole mess, it's that the Phillies and Nationals are now in the midst of a bonafide rivalry. It's not Yankees and Red Sox level yet, and its intensity is going to depend greatly on how the rest of the season goes for these two teams. If they both are in the hunt come August and September you can bet those games are going to have a bit more juice than if one, or both, of the teams are struggling.
And, if you ask me, that's a good thing. I've written about this earlier, but a rivalry with an N.L. East team stands to make the season far more exciting. It was nice knowing that the Nationals were a doormat, but it's nicer knowing that these games have an added level of drama associated with them. I only wish it didn't come as a result of a poorly thought out Cole Hamels pitch.