Of all the emotional moments, ovations, and on-field celebrations in Sunday’s season finale in the nation’s capital, none resonated with Washington fans we know as much as Jayson Werth’s late-game exit in what could be his final regular season game as a member of the Nationals.
Sure, there are postseason games to come for the Nationals in the NLDS and hopefully beyond, but Dusty Baker managed this one perfectly, allowing fans to let the players know how much they appreciate the hard work everyone has done this year...
One after another, Ryan Zimmerman, Anthony Rendon, Daniel Murphy, Bryce Harper, and Werth were subbed out so that the fans in Nationals Park could have a moment with each of them.
Baker noticed the heartfelt reactions, as did the Nationals themselves, as Gio Gonzalez said after what ended up an 11-8 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“That’s the nice thing about today’s game, is Zim, Jayson Werth, all the guys coming off the field,” Gonzalez said. “Rendon, all the guys that had a monster year, Murphy, they deserve it.”
“They understood what was going on,” Gonzalez said of the fans. “It’s very sentimental when you have that kind of support and fans that are alert, knowing it could be Jayson’s last time with the Nationals, and a guy who’s been pretty much a leader on this team, so that’s big applause to them, for understanding and realizing how valuable some players are to us.”
“They showed their appreciation for all of our effort and excellence,” Baker said.
“We had a good season, and we’re trying to approach a great season. What stood out is how most of the fans stayed around for this four-hour and something game. But that’s what stood out, how much appreciation the fans in this city have given us, and all I hear is about how much excitement and joy that we brought to the city this year from people in the street and the best is yet to come.”
Werth has been here for the renaissance of D.C. baseball, from perennial doormats in the NL East to the winners of division titles in four of the last six seasons, all of them following his decision to sign on in Washington when he agreed to his 7-year/$126M free agent deal with the Nationals before the 2011 season.
“When I started this whole thing, you know, it was coming into a new situation,” Werth told MASN’s Dan Kolko in a recent interview.
“The team was so much different than it is now,” he said. “The organization was so much different than it is now, it was kind of like a blank canvas in a way, so I’m proud of who we are as an organization, and what we’ve become, and the type of team that we are and the type of team we’ve become.
“Obviously this thing ain’t over and we’ve got a long way to go, but I feel like Nats fans and players and the people around the organization they have something that they can be proud of, and I’m proud of that.”
The overriding message in his conversation with Kolko, however, was that there is still work to be done.
“We need to win,” Werth explained. “I came here to give this town a parade, and I still have that opportunity, and that’s where my sights are set.”
Werth’s healthy, after a long stint on the DL, and the Nationals are mostly back where they want to be roster-wise, so the 38-year-old outfielder is looking forward to seeing what they can accomplish together.
“I’m feeling good,” Werth said this past weekend.
“The important thing, my legs are back, I feel like I’m fast... or fast-ish, fast for my age, I guess you could say, but looking forward to October.”
So are Nationals fans everywhere, but before the start of the NLDS, let’s take one more opportunity to say “Thanks” to the WereWerth, Baseball Jesus, the bearded one, Bryce Harper’s best friend. Thanks, Jayson. Thanks, Beard.
FROM BREAKING T: Join us as we say "Thanks Beard!" to Jayson Werth for all the great memories: past, present, and future!