Get Over Ryan Howard
The Ryan Howard obsession needs to end.
It came to a head Saturday night at Citizens Bank Park, where a fan threw a beer bottle at Howard probably because, you know, Howard is hitting .151 in the final season of a five-year, $125 million contract. I am guessing the fan is tired of seeing Howard on the field and he wants him to go away. Many fans have expressed this sentiment recently, especially after Pete Mackanin put Howard on the bench so Tommy Joseph can play. But rather than boo Howard, the fan cowardly chucked a plastic beer bottle as Howard walked into the Phillies’ dugout. I assume the fan scurried up the grandstand steps and out of the ballpark as quickly as possible, high-fiving his buddies or texting them afterward about what he did.
Too bad for the alleged bottle thrower there is video and photos of him, and the matter has been turned over to the Philadelphia Police Department.
Listen up. From what I understand there are no plans to release Howard. None. Now, things might change. Things often change. But right now there are no plans to release Howard. And you know what? It doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t. So, honestly, get over it.
After all, what would releasing Howard accomplish at this point?
Mackanin already has made Howard a bench player, so he is not taking away playing time from anybody. Howard is not blocking the next great Phillies first baseman. Releasing Howard and calling up Darin Ruf (or somebody else) in a reserve role will not catapult the Phillies to the postseason. The Phillies have too many weaknesses in too many places to play in October. Keeping Howard on the 25-man roster the rest of the season is not stunting the Phillies’ rebuilding plans, either. They’re rebuilding just fine with him in a reserve role. In fact, Howard has provided guidance and leadership to the team’s youngest players. He has said all the right things.
He is not an issue in the clubhouse.
We are talking about four more months, folks. Four months. That’s it. Four more months and Howard’s Phillies career is over. Are four more months really that big of a deal? Some people are really that angry about it?
I know some people are concerned about Howard’s legacy being tainted. I thought about that, too. But then I thought more about it. Sure, it was sad to see Willie Mays falling over in center field in his final season with the Mets. Sure, it was sad to see Charlie Manuel get fired. But Mays’ legacy has not been ruined. He is still regarded as one of the greatest players in baseball history. And every time I’ve seen Manuel step onto the field at Citizens Bank Park he receives a standing ovation. When the Phillies introduce Howard in 2028 at the 20th anniversary of the 2008 World Series championship team, Howard will get his ovation, too. His legacy won’t be ruined. It just won’t be.
Howard deserves better than this. Has he been paid handsomely? Of course. Has he underachieved most of his contract, compared to the first half of his career? Yes. But the fact remains Howard is the greatest first baseman in franchise history. He won the 2006 NL MVP, the 2005 NL Rookie of the Year and he hit cleanup as the Phillies won one World Series, two NL pennants and five consecutive NL East titles from 2007-11. He also is one of the most community-minded players the Phillies have had in years, and one of the most standup players I have come across. These things mean something to the Phillies, who are looking at the bigger picture here. The vocal minority should, too.
The Phillies have many issues. Howard finishing the season on the 25-man roster is not one of them.