In the grand scheme, it was one lowlife fan hurling one aluminum beer bottle toward Ryan Howard at the end of Saturday’s Phillies loss.
Ahh, but we know it was much more than that. Because everything has context. So this being Philadelphia, and this being Howard’s torturous baseball death, the actions of one jerk in the stands get magnified. And we all get tarnished.
In case you slept through the weekend, here’s what happened: Howard didn’t start any of the four games against the Brewers, but he pinch hit and made the final out of Saturday’s loss. As he circled back toward the dugout, a bottle flew from the seats and landed at his feet.
Howard, understandably, seethed and cursed the fan. He was guided back to the clubhouse by teammates. Still angry Sunday, he told reporters, “I’ve done too much in this town to have that kind of stuff [happen].”
“It was a Bud Light Lime bottle. I just turned around and it was down by my feet … It was terrible. It was tasteless.” We assume Howard’s talking about the offender’s act — not his choice of beer.
But here we are again. No athlete deserves this, certainly not a former MVP who helped carry a team to this city’s only pro title in 33 years.
The jackwagon can-chucker will be caught — perhaps by the time you read this. He’ll endure public scorn and a hefty fine. But long after he has moved on, his despicable moment will live among those that tarnish us as a fan base:
The flare gun at the Vet. The idiot who fell into the penalty box to fight Tie Domi. The lowlife who vomited on kids at CBP. The two — yes, just two — batteries aimed at J.D. Drew.
In each case, a few idiots’ actions fuel the narrative that we’re all drunken Visigoths. Never mind that 25,176 fans didn’t bombard Howard Saturday. In fact, most applauded him for busting down the baseline on his game-ending groundout.
Which leads, of course, to the other aspect here. Earlier this season, I called on fans to lay off Howard, to let him end his career with dignity. To a large extend they have — because, to a large extent, he’s now rooted on the bench behind Tommy Joseph. You can’t boo a guy in the dugout.
Still, the situation grows more discomforting. Howard doesn’t want to forgo $20 million by retiring. Ownership doesn’t want to embarrass him with a pink slip. Manager Pete Mackanin doesn’t want Howard’s .151 average in the lineup. The fans are stuck — appreciating Howard’s contributions from the past but wishing he would get the message and go home.
This can’t go on forever. Soon, we hope, one of the prospects — Nick Williams or Cam Perkins or Dylan Cozens — earns a promotion, and the Phils find a classy way to say goodbye. I give it until the All-Star break.
And when that occurs, unfortunately, the bozo with the Bud bottle will be part of that story.