Baseball, Essays, Sports

Ryan Howard Sucks. Okay?

It’s really no secret that I’ve been terribly hard on Ryan Howard, of the Phillies, or a while now. From my perspective, he’s the most outrageously overrated big-time, big-money slugger of this era. And after the previous two postseasons, it’s becoming really difficult to fight me on this one. In fact, the final outs of the two previous Phillies’ seasons have come on his failed attempts to do something of importance. It’s embarrassing.

But I’m the bad guy in all of this. The one with a silly vendetta against the Phillies. Now, it’s true that the Phillies are not my team (I wear the pinstripes), but does the sad hope that a player (one you’ve invested so much in) will eventually elevate his team to something other than a plane ride back home cause delusion? This is a case where it’s being called like it’s seen. The guy went without a hit for his last 15 at-bats in this year’s NLDS. But Phillies fans (i.e. those who throw batteries and force themselves to throw up on children) just keep the brotherly love flowing for the big man…at least the ones I talk to.

How can a player – who recently inked a 5 year, $125 million contract – fail so much in the clutch and still maintain fan loyalty? Many of my dissidents immediately bring up Alex Rodriguez, and my response is simple. I, along with most other Yankees fans, knew his absurd contract was a bad idea many moons ago. We absolutely despise him when he sucks, and he’ll hear about it. The same goes for any other overpaid jackass in pinstripes. But Howard still seems to have most of the city behind him, and it baffles me. As if he walks the dogs of the entire Phillies fan base on the weekends…for free!

Let’s cut the shit. Any player who joins the $20m+ club needs to be ready and able in the clutch, because that’s where championships are won. Howard is not that guy. At least, not yet. Personally, I doubt he’ll ever be that guy. He’s origami. He’s a joke. He’s the guy who hits the ball when you don’t need him to. And he’s not worth anything near the amount of money the Phillies are giving him, with or without an torn Achilles. I hope this city finally bucks up and admits that its next championship will not be obtained with significant help from Howard.

With the most impressive starting rotation of the past 20 years and a payroll the size of Ryan Howard’s strikeout totals, this is an embarrassing failure for the Phillies. And while not all of the blame can be placed solely on Howard’s shoulders, I think most of it has to. This is the second postseason in a row where Howard has failed miserably and completely disappeared when his efforts were most needed. He’s had far too many chances to prove me wrong, so I’m just going to go ahead and declare myself right here. That doesn’t happen often.

Hey, AROD sucks, too. But I’m over it.

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Baseball, Essays, Sports, Travel

A Different Kind of Fandom

I spent the past week in St. Louis with my coworkers and was lucky enough to catch two different Cardinals games at Busch Stadium. Beautiful venue, storied franchise, a city that is generally synonymous with the pastime, and a division rivalry that actually turned out to be pretty serious this year (i.e. the Brew Crew). I couldn’t ask for more. The games were everything I so happily expected. The fans, however, are another story.

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