John Feinstein, acclaimed author, CBS Sports Radio host and a contributor to the Golf Channel, Washington Post, and Army Football radio network, as his Twitter bio reads, caused a bit of a stir in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday when, in a "CBS Sports Minute" radio spot he called 35-year-old, fifth-year Washington Nationals' outfielder Jayson Werth one of the "least likeable athletes in sports."
Here's the text of his "CBS Sports Minute" as transcribed in an article by CBSSports.com's Chris Lingebach:
"Jayson Werth of the Washington Nationals is going to jail for five days," Feinstein began. "Good."
"Werth deserves to spend time in jail, even a short sentence, because he was arrogant enough to drive 105 miles an hour on a road where the speed limit’s 55. The fact that he was cold sober, and thought driving at that speed was a good idea, tells you a lot about how smart Werth is. Putting aside speeding and jail time, Werth is one of the most arrogant, least likable athletes in sports."
Feinstein wasn't done there. He went on:
"At least Marshawn Lynch is consistent; he never talks to the media," Feinstein continued. "'Werth is always available, although almost never pleasant when things are going well. But when the Nats lose, or he’s in a slump, he’s nowhere to be found. Every National was man enough to speak to the media after the team lost in the playoffs last October. Every National, except one."
It was widely reported in October that the Nationals' outfielder declined to meet with reporters after the Nationals lost Game 4 of the NLDS to the San Francisco Giants.
The offseason hasn't gone well for Werth, as he plead guilty to the reckless driving charge mentioned above, is in the process of serving the five days he was sentenced to and also underwent surgery to repair the AC joint in his right shoulder.
In an appearance on 106.7 the FAN in D.C. today with Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier, Feinstein talked about his comments on Werth and the reaction they got, which included a call from Nats' GM Mike Rizzo.
"'I will repeat to you what I said to Mike Rizzo yesterday, when he called screaming," Feinstein said, again, as quoted by CBSSports.com's Chris Lingebach:
"'Basically, I have problems with athletes who are willing to talk when they succeed and duck the media when they fail... Twenty-four members of the Washington Nationals stood in the clubhouse after they lost to the Giants and spoke to the media in different ways, shapes and forms. One guy refused to do it. One guy, even after he had showered and dressed and was ready to leave the clubhouse, when he was asked — because there were three or four guys who he knew still there — said, ‘No, I’m not talking.’ I think going 105 in a 55 is a pretty bad thing, too, by the way.'"
Feinstein went on to say he believes, "'Werth is one of those guys who, he thinks because he’s a baseball player that he’s above other people," something the writer has issues with, and he adds that in spite of Rizzo's claims about Werth being a clubhouse leader who is well-liked by his teammates, "'I don’t think he’s ‘likable.’ That’s an opinion of mine.'"
Has the perception of Werth in the press changed in the last year?
Is this inevitable blowback after the initial reports that he was pulled over doing 105 mph on the Capital Beltway and after his decision not to talk to reporters after the NLDS loss or at NatsFest in December? (Though he did meet with fans.) Do you care about how Werth deals or doesn't deal with reporters? Is his on-field production all that matters to you?
FWIW: At least one writer, Washington Post reporter Adam Kilgore, who covered the Nationals beat until a recent promotion, challenged the image of Werth that Feinstein presented:
Not in line w/ fan base, clubhouse, etc RT @1067thefandc Feinstein calls Werth "one of the most arrogant, least likable athletes in sports."— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) February 3, 2015
Check out Feinstein's full comments in the links below:
John Feinstein on calling Jayson Werth one of 'least likable athletes': "If he wants to punch me in the nose, fine." http://t.co/ualFfLTiEc— Chris Lingebach (@BlueShortsLIFE) February 4, 2015