Ryan Howard is having one of the strangest years in baseball history, as he challenges for the National League lead in RBI while dealing with rumors that he will soon be released. And the most bizarre part of his story is the clumsy way he is handling this surreal situation.
A slugger without peer in the past decade with a teddy-bear personality, the Phillies first baseman has become uncharacteristically morose in recent days – even during a week when he won two games with walk-off hits. Instead of laughing off annoying questions, he is snapping at reporters. Rather than counting his blessings, Howard has declared war on imaginary enemies.
Last week, after his grand slam won a game, he had to be shoved out of the dugout for a curtain call before whining that all of the recent booing at Citizens Bank Park has been “unfortunate.” No one had the presence of mind to remind him that his defense and his batting average and his futility against left-handed pitchers are far more unfortunate.
Before this latest pity party, Howard had complained publicly that fans were forgetting his great accomplishments, at one point even openly asking if anyone would like to trade places with him. A better question, given his $25-million annual salary, his two mansions and his gorgeous ex-cheerleader wife, is who would not want to?
If indeed Howard, at 34, is nearing the end of his tenure here, he needs to look at all of the ex-Phillies who came back last weekend to share one more moment in the limelight and realize just how lucky he is to have shared his best years with fans who will love you when you’re good – and will push you when you’re not.
- Dallas now considers the Eagles its most hated team, according to a new poll. Could it be because the Birds ruined two of the Cowboys’ last three playoff bids on the final weekend of the regular season? Or is it just because we’re a better city with a better team?
- One of the most pleasing aspects of the Eagles’ public practice at Franklin Field on Sunday was the exposure that grand old place received. Many, many fans have never even visited the site of the last Eagles championship in 1960. Well, they should. It’s awesome.
- Exactly two days after declaring that he didn’t making any trade-deadline deals because he was being offered only “low-level prospects,” Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. dealt pitcher Roberto Hernandez to the Dodgers last week – for two low-level prospects. You can’t make this stuff up.
- The induction of Charlie Manuel to the Phillies Wall of Fame last weekend was a sweet sendoff to a beloved manager, but I still believe the team would have won more than one World Series with a better strategist. Sorry.
- Sam Hinkie must be lowering his standards for acquiring players with physical afflictions. The Sixers GM is about to complete a deal that will bring former No. 1 draft pick (and bust) Anthony Bennett here for Thaddeus Young. Bennett’s biggest problem right now is sleep apnea. Can he sit out a whole season for that?