In late February, a strange, powerful, all-encompassing presence suddenly emerged, stealing our hearts, dominating our intellects, sparking our imaginations beyond all previously tested limits. Was it the coming of the iPad? No, sorry—try again, Steve Jobs. Tiger Woods’ latest mistress? Please, who hasn’t gotten a text message that’s said that. Justin Bieber? Call us when you grow out of Pull-Ups, kid. No, of course I can only be referring to the pop-culture pandemic that instantaneously swept from Philadelphia to Fort Lauderdale, Hong Kong to Bejing, Milan to Minsk—Jayson Werth’s Beard.
I was as captivated as everyone else. I immediately followed it on Twitter and became a fan on Facebook. I scoured baseball blogs and online news sites daily for updates and photos. I mass-emailed the link to the Jayson Werth Beards Tumblr to my entire friend list with the disclaimer, “I never forward things like this, but …” I found myself in the center of heated debates, internal struggles and, yes, odd sexual awakenings, all because of the beard–and all the while thinking, “Would it last until opening day? Oh God, please make it last.”
But as much as I’d like to devote an entire profile to that magical expanse of man hair and the transformative role it still plays in all of our lives, Jayson Werth’s Beard is not the player (unless you count the time it allegedly grabbed Jennifer Aniston’s ass). The player is 6-feet 5-inches of sheer badassery, and he’s our right fielder, Jayson Richard Gowan Werth.
Initially, it was easy for Werth to get lost behind the Phillies “big three”–Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins. But the more times he came up to the plate at those moments when you’re yelling at the TV set, “Come on, we gotta make something happen here!” and delivered with his mighty bat, and the more times he grabbed a ball out of the air that made us collectively gasp, “Oh shit, he caught that?!” the more we realized how fortunate we were to have Dick Schofield’s grandson on our team. Last year, Werth was the inaugural winner of the MLB’s new “Unsung Star of the Year” award–a title that I feel perfectly captures his role on this Phillies roster.
One of the things I love the most about Werth is that he plays the game with attitude. You really want him on your team, and when the game’s over, you really want to go out and party with him.
Oh, and one last thing: The man is raw sex poured into a pin-striped uniform. At the last Phillies game I attended, I was sitting next to two women who must have been well into their 60s. At one point, I overheard one of the women say to the other, “I told Charles that Jayson Werth is my celebrity ‘get out of jail free card.’ You know, that means I can fuck him, and it doesn’t count as cheating.”
Three words, people: Fear the beard.