Ryan’s Hope, Part 1: He is the most feared power hitter in baseball today and en route to MVP honours in the National League. Still, Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard isn’t thoroughly enjoying his breakout season (53 home runs, entering last night) because of the frequency with which he has been hearing derisive remarks.

Ryan’s hope is for the wise cracks to stop.


“Some people think I use steroids,” Howard lamented. “I’ve heard it a lot lately. It’s unfair. You’d think the barrel I have for a stomach would be proof enough that I don’t use steroids. Steroid users don’t have pot bellies.”

One of the more astute baseball journalists around has high praise, not derision, for Howard.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports says the Phillies’ first baseman is “an articulate, engaging young star at a time when the disagreeable (Barry) Bonds is fading as the game’s pre-eminent figure. He’s a rising African-American phenomenon at a time when the game is struggling to attract African-American fans and players. And he’s a slugger who is untainted by suspicion of performance-enhancing drug use at a time when the game is trying to emerge from the Steroid Era.

“No one can state definitively that Howard or any other player is clean, not when players can still beat MLB’s drug testing by using undetectable substances. Likewise, no one can state definitively that a player is dirty unless he tests positive for a banned substance.”

Ryan’s Hope, Part II: He is the Chicago Cubs’ closer, but B.C. native Ryan Dempster is openly struggling.

Dempster has been scored upon in each of his past six outings, allowing 14 hits and posting an ugly 15.67 earned-run average over six innings.

Ryan’s hope is that he will start resembling a major-leaguer again.

“This is ridiculous,” Dempster said. “I’m a big-league pitcher and I have to start acting like one.”

Ryan’s hope, Part III: He is the first Regina native in the NFL, about to embark on a career with Green Bay. And Jon Ryan is excited.

Ryan’s hope, however, is that he doesn’t spend too much time on the field. The Packers, after all, are weak offensively this season, even with quarterback Brett Favre.

Ryan shouldn’t embarrass himself, regardless. He set a CFL record last year by averaging punts of 50.6 yards for Winnipeg. In four exhibition games with Green Bay, he averaged 49.1 yards a punt.

With all due respect to my good buddy, Hank Ilesic, Ryan has a chance to become the finest Canadian punter in history.

(By the way, please check out

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