Jeff Pearlman

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“Not for you, bud.”

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A few days ago a newspaper takeout writer I know—award-winning; highly skilled; great guy—approached Jayson Werth in the clubhouse of the Philadelphia Phillies. The scribe was working on a piece about this or that, and he politely asked Werth whether he had a few minutes.

Werth’s reply? “Not for you, bud.” Then he walked away.

For a moment, let’s think about that. Let’s really think about that. In my life, I’ve been approached by some dazzlingly annoying people. Politicians, panhandlers, religious nutties, cell phone salesmen, editors. Never—absolutely never—would I speak to any in the manner Werth spoke to the writer (a man, for the record, Werth had never before met).

Not for you, bud.

Not for you, bud!?

The more I thought about it, the angrier I became. Not for you, bud!? Who the hell is Jayson Werth to speak to anyone with such blatant disrespect? (Brief synopsis: He’s a seventh-year journeyman compared to Ryan Church and Shane Spencer, among other lesser-weights, by Baseball-Reference.com). In fact, scratch that. Whether you’re Jayson Werth or Ryan Howard; Bad Ronald or the Rolling Stones … nobody has the right to talk to others as if they’re the grime beneath their shoes. We all live, we all eat, we all poop, we all die. Fame and money are nice and dandy and swell, but, well, big s%$#. (And Jayson Werth isn’t even famous.)

In a sense, Werth’s words sum up a primary reason I left Sports Illustrated as a baseball writer back in 2002. I just couldn’t handle chasing around these guys on a weekly basis. Others in the profession rave about the access that comes with covering the diamond, but the 3 1/2-hour clubhouse window is truly a blessing (time to talk) and a curse (time to talk). Literally, a solid 60% of a baseball writer’s life is devoted to standing in a corner of a room, waiting … waiting … waiting … waiting … waiting … waiting for, oh, Derek Jeter or Brian Giles to put down the Maxim so the scribe can slink over and ask a few questions (guaranteed to be answered in banal cliches). I’ll never forget the time Tim Worrell, a former Giants reliever, told me he’d talk in a few minutes, then sat down at his locker and read Field & Stream until it was time to take the field. In the real world, Worrell was being an anus. But within the confines of the major league clubhouse, he was merely playing the part.

I often think back to a piece Chris Ballard wrote a few years ago in SI, when he profiled Michael Redd of the Milwaukee Bucks. It was an excellent article, with one paragraph jumping off the page:

Unfailingly well-groomed (his father, James, taught him that “you’ll never meet a good companion if you aren’t clean and neat”), he’s the kind of polite, unassuming guy who says thank you to security guards when they hold the locker room door for him.

Sadly, this is the standard men like Werth and Worrell have set for pro athletes. If a guy so much as says ‘Thank you’ when a door is held open, we praise his decency and compassion. I remember, several years ago, sitting in the Seattle Mariners clubhouse, interviewing a pitcher named Ryan Franklin, when Arthur Rhodes screamed, “Hey, get out of my seat!” from across the room. “Is he kidding?” I asked Franklin, who embarrassingly shook his head, no. Literally, Rhodes didn’t need the chair at that moment—he just hated anyone unworthy sitting in it.

So why do writers continue to do it? Love of the game, I reckon. But there’s more: Being a baseball writer means hanging with the popular kids. No, David Wright might not remember your name, or even care that you have a name. But you’re with him every day, in the razzle-dazzle world of professional sports. Your friends think it’s cool, your friends’ kids think it’s cool. Yeah, you might shop at Marshall’s (I do), routinely have grease stains on your collar (I do), smell like Turtle Wax (I don’t). You might spend your off time on eHarmony or the Jeannie Garth photo gallery.

But you’re in the game—hanging with Jayson Werth!

  • You ask who Jayson Werth is? Well, bud, I have an answer: He’s a World Series champion and member of Brian Hickey’s fantasy-baseball team.

  • Barnaby

    Hi Jeff – just a couple of questions: isn’t it conceivable there’s a back-story to this? i.e., something this reporter did or said or wrote about that in some way bothered Werth? – in a legitimate way. Sure, that doesn’t necessarily give him the right to be an @#$hole – point well taken, I suppose. But, it still seems like you may be leaving something out of the story – for whatever reason. Shouldn’t you at least have made an effort to contact Werth to get his side of it? And just for the record, I’d take Werth over Spencer or Church ANY DAY!

  • T Schranck

    “Who is Jeff Pearlman?” might be a better question.

    Why don’t you name the writer in the incident you relate, Jeffy?

    Maybe the writer you don’t mention has written things about Werth or one of his teammates that weren’t accurate or that were laced with speculation about his essential character as a human being based on one minor incident.

    Naaahhhh. A writer would never do that!

  • teb33

    Boo Hoo. Oh the sad life of a baseball writer. Give a break.

    The fact that athletes who’ve been pampered their whole lives and now make millions aren’t schooled in the social graces isn’t news. It isn’t suprising.

    Guess what sports writers? Very few people care about sports writers except other sports writers.

  • Paul

    Maybe Werth and other athletes treat sports writers like dirt is because you treat them like dirt, i.e., “The Bad Guys Won! A Season of Brawling, Boozing, Bimbo Chasing…”

  • H. Rogers

    Pearlman, you are a douche

  • Stink

    Jayson werth is the starting right outfielder for the defending world series champions and just signed a 10 million dollar contract so he is obviously somebody you clown. Your just pissed because baseball players know how much of a weasel you are. Didnt david wells try to kick your pansy ass a few years back?

  • Andrew

    You’re right–Werth was acting like a jerk. But in a way, it’s understandable that athletes treat reporters like parasites. I say this as someone who is a reporter myself.) From the time they are in high school, premier athletes are profiled, lionized, statistically examined, poked, prodded, beseeched and besmirched by the press. Journeyman or not, by the time an athlete reaches the top levels of his profession, he’s had a fair amount of experience with the best and–let’s face it–worst that the profession has to offer. He’s had to sit and patiently explain why he missed the cutoff man or tried to steal third with two outs or balked in the go ahead run, and I have to imagine that, not matter how highly compensated he is for what he does, at some point the constant scrutiny must get a bit annoying. Apparently, there was once a time when someone like Pat Jordan could go and hang out with Tom Seaver for days at a time and gain some access to his psyche, but those days are long gone, and what’s replaced it is a highly controlled, ultra-banal ritual of postgame interviews, conducted in circumstances where the power dynamic is so one-sided–they call it a clubhouse, for God’s sake–that it’s not hard to understand how a pampered and immature 25-year-old could draw the conclusion that the person politely asking to talk to them is nothing more than a beggar. I have no idea what the solution is–it’d be nice if teams, agents, and so on allowed the kind of access to players that would allow some mutual respect to blossom, but those days are clearly gone, in part as an unintended consequence of the fine work you yourself have done. In the absence of real reporting… well, I guess we’ve got Deadspin. Thank god for that.

  • Argive

    It would be really great if all of our baseball players were unfailingly polite to everyone at all times. But they are not. I am sorry that sportswriters have to deal with athletes who are jerks, but yes, there might be a backstory behind Werth and this reporter. Or maybe it’s that the reporter caught Werth in a bad moment. The guy had just gone 0-5 with 3 K’s. I’m not trying to excuse him blowing off a writer, but I know that I’m rarely in a good mood when I have a bad day at work.

  • Jayson Werth is the Right fielder on the best team in baseball, in fact, he won the World Series last year and if you did a little more research you would know that. Wahh wahh he didnt talk to me wahh wahh. As Nelson from the Simpson says Ha ha!

  • Legit Baseball Fan

    This entire website is pathetic. The internet and blog era allows anyone with a keyboard to “write” opinions that are based on nothing resembling facts.

    Just like the basement geek blog writer that accused Raul Ibanez of being on steroids a few days ago, this writer (Jeff Pearlman? WHO?) should have his computer permanently removed from his parent’s basement.

  • Why does it seem like everyone who commented here missed the point?

  • Brian Smith

    Legit Baseball Fan? And you don’t know who Jeff Pearlman is? Are you kidding me? Does John Rocker mean anything to you? Sounds like you need to open your eyes past what’s in the room you’re sitting in.

  • Seth Davis

    Got a solution for you, Pearl-Jam: Cover college sports, or at least, college basketball. First off, the coaches are very accessible and, though they are by definition all insane, enjoyable to interview and hang out with. Also, even the top college basketball player is generally going to relish the chance to talk to a reporter of your stature. I get to talk to these kids when they’re young and on the way up, at a time when a chance to talk to an SI reporter is still exciting. Plus, colleges have sports information directors who generally try to encourage, if not flat-out insist, that their players cooperate with the press. Yes, the SIDs take their cues from the head coach, but all in all, I have to say that college hoops are generally free from the attitudes you described here. Hey, the NBA draft is next week in New York. If you want to treat yourself, spend a few minutes with Stephen Curry.

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  • Justin

    Robyn, Glad not everyone here missed the point. I cannot believe all the jock sniffers who dismiss acting like a child simply because he plays on the Phillies.

  • jaroslav hasek

    waa waa waa. baseball players arent friendly. waa waa waa.

    you both sound like assholes.

  • markj111

    There are certain standards of civilty that most of us follow. Mr. Werth (and many other professional athletes) choose not to follow them. I think it is sad, but I am not surprised. As has been noted, these guys have been pampered their entire lives. Let’s hope he wakes up when the music stops and no gives a rat’s a** that he used to be a ballplayer.

  • Matt

    I think the point that many of you are missing is that common decency, the basic construct of our society, should have taught these guys to say “please” and “thank you.” This is a larger issue in our society, I think, people don’t have shame nowadays. Anyone who has worked in retail or the food service industry see’s people behave in an extremely embarassing manner entirely without shame. It is not just the prince who grows up to be a dick these days, its the pauper as well.

  • Matt

    On a related note, I would like to slap Brian in his fool head.

  • What would really put a stop to this type of behavior is if a Jayson Werth-type tries that with a guy like Jay Glazer, and Glazer goes MMA on him.
    It’s fascinating how these things spiral out of control with the comments too. In a selfish sense, I’m glad I’m not alone when I’m under attack for daring to disparage PECOTA.

  • WilsonF

    C’mon man. I’m sure this is tough on writers, but let’s be honest. Players are raised the same as the rest of us but they act this way for a reason. Because if they say anything the slightest bit incendiary, or unusual, they end up having to pay an absurd price. They are in the papers for days, their comments get taken out of context and dissected by everyone with a computer, and they may even have to apologize for something absurd.

    The system is broken, I’ll agree. It sucks to be a writer, because other writers have made it impossible for players to be candid and normal. I’m sure Jayson Werth is a fine man, who has just been told over and over again by his agent, his co-workers, his manager, and his family, to NOT TALK TO THE PRESS.

  • WilsonF

    My bad. Andrew basically said much of what I meant, but better.

  • Nick

    Athletes don’t treat sportswriters with respect because they’ve read Hunter Thompson and know your kind is “a rude & brainless subculture of fascist drunks” and “more disgusting by nature than maggots oozing out of the carcass of a dead animal.” Sportswriters aren’t worthy of respect. They’re as uninformed as the average fan, but they get to write stupid, misleading articles in newspapers bashing the athletes for their performance or for their personal lives. They squawk about steroids as if their profession didn’t have any role in covering it up for decades prior to the scandal. Not to mention, they generally write at a fourth-grade level (witness Bill Plaschke’s single-sentence paragraphs) and with twice the sanctimony of a PMRC councilmember (witness every time Pearlman whines about some ballplayer snubbing him). Jayson Werth thinks he’s too good to speak to you? Damn right he is.

  • Funny to hear Phillies fans, think the Phils are like “Gods”? We’re talking about a team, that through the 90’s typically finished 20+ games out in their division. And has recent as ’02 & ’03, finished 15 & 21 out? Dynasty? Gods? LMAO!

    Werth was a schmuck that day, plain and simple. A young player like Greinke who will be a contender for the Cy this year, would never treat a reporter like that. Why? He’s not a schmuck. Wasn’t raised that way, etc. etc. Is Werth always a schmuck? Ask his girlfriend, she’d know the down low.

  • BlackOps

    It’s alright, Jeff. Philly fans are douchebags just like Jayson.

  • David

    Wow, I can’t believe the comments here. They’re 90% in favor of the Jayson Werths of the world. Why are they even reading the blog of a sportswriter if they hate sportswriters?

    It’s not just pro athletes. When I was a college student-reporter trying to interview a college athlete after a game, I got told to f— off. I decided I never wanted to do that again right then and there.

  • The Dude

    “Not for you, bud” isn’t really all that scandalous, is it?

  • billy

    jayson werth and the rest of the phillies are all douche bags and so are there fans LETS GO METS screw philly

  • Goose Gossage said it best:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r75KU9reHAs

  • paul

    Good article and I think most of the readers who have commented are the same fans that scream “you suck” at baseball games with their young children. Our society has rewarded athletes starting from an early age where they think they are above everybody else. ESPN highlights of managers and players throwing a tantrum, kicking dirt and tossing Gatorade jugs and bats onto the field is despicable. They act like my 2-year old and it’s accepted. Is that really the example you want set for your children? Not to say thank you, treating another human being like crap?

  • fuckingrayofsunshine

    what if he had a bad day? what if there is a back story? what if he is rude? why does anyone really care? what I find the most ironic is when people complain about how rotten judging is and they go on and on about morals and how people were raised while they are judging and gossiping…

    just wondering if anyone who left a comment (good or bad), aside from the writer has ever met Jayson Werth to make a real assessment.

    And to the Mets fan…hahaahahaha…that’s all ya got. Where is your baseball field again?

    and btw,

  • jackie

    jayson werth is hot. that is all i care about.

  • Ray Wills

    I have met Werth and he truly is a f%^king DOUCHEBAG… I am live in Syracuse NY, where he played a few years of minor league ball… I have literally seen with my own eyes tell a kid that he should go get his dad to go buy him a baseball if he wasnt too poor (when the child asked if he could have a third out caught fly ball) this kid was literally 7 years old at best… then preceeded to demand by refusing to take the field… that the group that was sitting behind the child and his family be removed from the stadium because they were heckling him for how he handled the kid and for failing to run out a SCREAMING line drive to the shortstop who was Nick Punto with a runner on 3rd and 2 outs, down by 1 (coincedentally Punto is one of the nicer players around) which Punto dropped… Werth was obviously thrown out at 1st with the bat still in his hand… classic… so Werth refusing to go out the ushers and security(which consisted of a 97lbs girl and 2 men literally in their 70’s came down and told them they had to leave… the large group of men then said they werent leaving til the kid got a ball… the usher said they were going to call the police… then the group of men all pulled out badges… just then Chad Mottola who was another stellar minor leaguer who I wish had fared better in the majors and a really great guy, brought a ball over to the kid and said after the game he would get it autographed for him, then told the guys he was just trying to keep the peace…

    So, in conclusion… Jayson Werth is a DOUCHEBAG… Who hates children and puppies…

    PS if you ask any vendor at Citizens Bank Ballpark… they will confirm that he is a HUUUUUUGE asshole…

    Ray

  • steveG

    Anyone who needs his Dad to defend his actions of flipping fans off in the stands has got to be a douchebag.

  • Central Illinois

    Ray, you hit the nail on the head about Jayson Werth – he is a total jerk. I live in the same town where he grew up, and where he presently lives in the offseason. He is broadly disliked around here due to his incredibly cocky, arrogant attitude toward, umm, everyone, including kids. A jerk to a sportswriter? Well, OK, that could happen for a lot of reasons. But a jerk toward kids who ask for autographs around here, the same area where he went to high school and where he lives? Inexcusable. One of my kids played sports with his sister, and having seen his parents and grandparents in action, I guess it’s no wonder that Jayson is such a jerk. Please, Jayson, move to Philly or wherever for the rest of your life, and take the rest of your family with you!

  • Gomer

    I’ve met him too. Wouldn’t want his autograph – what a butthole, totally selfish, totally arrogant.

  • Philly Fan in Atlanta

    I just found this site after searching for “Jayson Werth is a Jerk”. Here’s why…

    So, my sister goes to the Phils game in Atlanta on Sat night. After the game, she and friends head to local sports bar. While there, they spot a few Phillies sitting at a table near the front door. After debating back and forth, her friends urge her to say hello to the players.

    She first checked with the hostess to inquire if the players had specifically asked not to be bothered…the response was that they had made no special request. So she approached the table and nicely said she was sorry to interrupt but wondered if she could get an autograph for her little nephew. One player responded with a sarcastic food order, i.e. “I’ll have a burger, fries and a coke.” She then turned to Jayson and asked him if he could give her an autograph. His response: “You can stop bothering me now.”

    Did I mention that my sister was wearing a Phillies t-shirt in an Atlanta sports bar?!

    How about some fan appreciation? “Thanks for coming out and supporting us!”

    If they wanted to be left alone, they could’ve sat in a corner and they certainly could have told her politely that they preferred to finish their meal and that maybe they could chat after dinner.

    Is this not ridculous?!? …especially when they’re on the road!!!

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  • I was just doing a search for Werth and came across this blog. I used to be a fan of his until I read this. I’m totally over these overpaid aholes who think their sh!t doesn’t stink.

  • These players are constantly hassled every day of the week for autographs and pictures; plus, they’re mostly guys under the age of 32. What 32 year old is prepared for this type of intrusion? With the exception of guys like Derek Jeter, not too many. We can all be jerks. Jayson is going through a difficult time in his life; I’m sure he has had his better moments.

  • huh

    Wow…how arrogant are you? Werth doesn’t owe some pencil geek an interview and for you to assume that an answer fitting to your liking is required is just plain and simple arrogant. He said what he felt…How dare he…he’s a little people squasher!! What makes you or anyone think that these players owe anyone anything? How dare this dude interupt someone’s day just so he can report back to whoever he writes for…And what’s even better…these lil scribers…will twist and turn everything they say for more readers….Not for you bud…not in a life time you arrogant jerk

  • Mike

    A few years ago i was at a game early and Jayson Werth was warming up. After he warmed up i put my hands out so he would throw me the ball. He tossed it up in my direction just a little bit, caught it, and went inside. Earlier that day we made eye contact and I gave him a thumbs up. He looked at me like i was from a different planet. I was 10! This and seeing him curse at fans with their children next to them made me lose all respect for him. You got talent Jayson but your not Babe Ruth, get over yourself. And have you ever seen his rookie picture, its a riot

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life