Before yesterday's game, the Nationals hosted their first "On-Field Photo Shoot". It was an event which gave fans a chance to come down onto the field and take pictures and wave at the Nats players, coaches, and broadcast personnel as they walked by. The fans were allowed onto the warning track, which was roped off all the way around. The players, etc., would be introduced a few at a time and would make their way down the line, shaking hands and saying hi like the President after the State of the Union.
The fans were given strict instructions as they came onto the field:
- Refrain from requesting personal photographs
- Refrain from asking for autographs
Michael Morse and Stephen Strasburg were especially accommodating. While most of the players took around 20-30 minutes to do the entire circuit, Morse took over an hour. He was truly reveling in the moment. Strasburg came to each group of people and had a short chat and took all sorts of special shots -- with the kids, with the wife, with, well, anyone. When I said "welcome back and good luck", he flashed that big grin of his and he thanked ME for all I do (!). Jordan Zimmermann shook my hand and said "Nice Jersey!" (I happened to be wearing my number 27). Wilson Ramos said he hears my "WILLL-SONNN!!" cheer every time (that's comforting!) Davey Johnson spent a long time talking with each group, and I don't think he even made it all the way around.
Jayson Werth? No. He walked six feet from the rope line, so as to avoid any unnecessary contact with the fans (no hand shaking here!). He walked briskly to avoid anyone actually getting a good photo of him, and he barely acknowledged the people as he walked by. He did the entire circuit in under ten minutes. The lady next to me idly, and accurately, remarked "what a jackass!" Now, I can forgive a guy with a superstar contract for being aloof if he's actually performing up to the standards that his pay dictates. But for someone who's been a marginal Major League player in the first year of his huge contract in his new city, it would make sense that he reach out to the fans and try to be a bit more personable. He and the fans are going to be together for a long time, why work to build a toxic relationship? In the future I will be just a little less willing to justify his on-field failings and a little less scornful of the fans that boo him when he strikes out yet again.