The Phillies' spring training action got underway this week down in Florida, but one Phillie was conspicuous by his absence: Ryan Howard, who remains out of action with the ankle injury he suffered in last year's playoffs.
Does that bother anyone else as much as it does me? It wasn't enough that Howard completely blew it in the playoffs, leading the best Phillies team ever to a first-round exit. But now, with the chance to redeem himself, he isn't even on the field?
We're paying Ryan Howard $125 million over five years to play baseball, not to sit on the sidelines. That salary comes from our hard-earned money, from ticket sales and beer and hot dog sales. That Howard can't find the grit to suit up is a slap in the face to me, just as it should be to every other hard-working Philadelphia sports fan. And if Howard can't play, he should volunteer to give back the money they're paying him.
Now I know what you're probably thinking, "he's injured!" "He hasn't been medically cleared to play!" "He risks doing even further damage!"
To that I say, please. This is Major League Baseball! What, did they change the uniforms to skirts when I wasn't looking? These Howard apologists remind me of all the girly men wanting to use this concussion nonsense to ruin the NFL. On the first day of spring workouts, Howard was reportedly running. And if he can do that, he can certainly play in a game. Man up, Ryan!
If Howard were a warrior, a real Philly Guy, truly one of us, would he be on the field right now? You bet he would. True sports heroes- people like Willis Reed, Kirk Gibson and Brett Favre- are the ones who play no matter what, even against doctor's orders if necessary. But when Howard stays on the sidelines, he gets a pass? Why is that?
Even worse, he keeps taunting us by showing up in the crowd at basketball games. What sport do you really care about, Ryan?
And what happened to Philadelphia fans? We're supposed to be the toughest, most passionate around, and here we are giving the $125 million man a pass for failing to do his job. This is Philly! Whenever Achilles Boy finds it convenient to actually get back on the field, I sure hope my fellow fans boo him loudly.
As the Phillies' long championship drought approaches the four-year mark, it amazes me the fans and media are giving Howard a pass. I've always liked the guy, but if he cares about winning as much as we do, he needs to get back out there now. A torn Achilles, surgery, rehab, and a subsequent infection are no excuse.
Philadelphia Sports Takes:
- As they approach the draft, the Eagles need to be thinking about both the present and the future. I've already gone on record as saying they must make pursuit of Peyton Manning their primary offseason objective. But of course, he can't play forever, so the team needs to come up with a future plan. And that's why I believe the Eagles must do everything they can to get Robert Griffin III. If St. Louis demands first, second-and third-round picks for the next three years, so be it. It's not like Andy knows how to draft anyway.
At any rate, I ask the same thing I always ask the Eagles at draft time: 1) No offensive linemen, and 2) Only draft people who I've heard of.
- How long before DeSean Jackson blows through all the franchise tender money? I give it eight weeks.
- The New Orleans Saints made headlines this week when the NFL fined them for carrying out a system of bounties for injuring opposing players. First of all, if they're going to steal the great Buddy Ryan's ideas, shouldn't they acknowledge they're doing so? Secondly, even though we all want the Eagles to go back to that, it's not like Casey Matthews or Jacquan Jarrett would ever be able to injure anyone.
You may be asking how us Eagles fans can deplore the actions of the Saints yet still revere Buddy Ryan. The difference is obvious: Buddy was an old-school tough guy who played the game the old-fashioned way. The Saints are just thugs.
- Mike Schmidt is at spring training. I really wish some brave reporter would go up and ask him his thoughts on kids today, and whether they appreciate the game.
- The Sixers have hit a bit of a slump of late. Clearly, the right move is to trade their entire nucleus for six weeks of Dwight Howard.
- Greg Cosell compared RGIII to "a more athletic Donovan McNabb." On second thought, can we get those draft picks back?
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