PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — From MVP and World Series champion to a .150 hitting bench player. From boos to beer bottles, this is getting out of hand.
The vitriol surrounding the 36-year-old declining Ryan Howard is shocking and unfair.
Here are four reasons why should leave Howard alone.
A big reason Howard has faced constant scrutiny during his decline, is his large contract. In fact, Forbes ranked Howard as the 53rd highest paid athlete in 2016, as he made $25.6 million.
But it’s not Howard’s fault Ruben Amaro Jr. gave a 30-year-old player five-years and $125 million, with a sixth-year option. It’s not Howard’s fault he did not make his major league debut until he was 24 and did not play his first full season until he was 26.
It’s not Howard’s fault he was mishandled from day one.
- Three-time all-star
- Two-time home run champion
- 2006 NL MVP
- 2008 World Series champion
As sports fans, we “sports love” and “sports hate” athletes, coaches, and teams. We over-analyze situations, moments, and personalities. We can’t help it and it’s a part of what makes our sports world awesome.
But, as a fan myself, I have a rule of thumb: if an athlete wins an MVP and a World Series for my city — while doing it respectfully and maturely the entire time — I’m cool with him forever. He’s earned a lifetime pass.
Howard is largely considered one of the most respectful and humbled sports stars Philly has ever seen. Whether it be the fans, the media, or his teammates Howard always carried (and still carries) himself with class and respect. Through family law suits, Achilles’ injuries, and now deteriorating skills, Howard’s character has never faltered.
Even when he was benched for Tommy Joseph just days ago, Howard stayed positive and even gave Joseph a nickname.
“I told [Mackanin], ‘I get it. I know where I am right now.’ By no means am I trying to relinquish my job or anything, but you know, I’ve played the game long enough to know and understand.”
Finally, the situation itself does not bear vitriol and anger. It’s wasted energy.
The Phillies are a bad baseball team at the current time. Check.
Howard is not blocking anyone at first-base. Check.
Joseph is going to get the majority of starts at first-base going forward:
“Well what I’m gonna do is, Tommy Joseph is going to get the brunt of the playing time because we need to see him play,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin told Angelo Cataldi and the 94WIP Morning Show on Wednesday.
And Howard is not a malcontent in the locker room. Check. (In fact, he’s actually one of the lone veteran leaders on the team.)
So just let him be. That’s all. He deserves that. Or, at least stop throwing bottles at him.