After watching the 1993 cult classic Groundhog Day yesterday, over, and over again, I couldn’t help but thinking that the movie was a bit of foreshadowing on the life we Phillies fans live today. Especially, when it comes to Ryan Howard.
Ryan Howard has officially played 1,460 regular season games in a Phillies uniform over 12 years. After doing my share of research on the subject, that’s longer than Bill Murray spends in purgatory Groundhog hell.
That’s 6,169 plate appearances, 5,376 at bats, 1,729 strikeouts, 1,410 hits, 357 home runs, a sustained Achilles injury, and all while still not being able to learn to stay off pitches thrown outside the strike zone.
Now, I know we are all sick and tired of hearing about his unbearable contract deal, and how he hasn’t produced for the last couple of years. Well we have bared the repetitiveness of the past Phillies for long enough. Before you drive your car off a cliff, drop a toaster in your bath tub, jump in front of a car or off a building…I’m here to tell you that this will be our year. We can finally get ourselves out of the Groundhog Day rut, and lift that Big Piece of weight off our shoulders. With the final year in contract for Ryan Howard, the days are numbered to 162 with the Phillies. And there’s always the chance it could be less.
Some people will look at the glass as half empty, if not you’ll look at the glass as half full, I bet you’re a glass empty kind of person.
The fact of the matter is Ryan Howard has had those many days to get back to being an average baseball player just like Phil Connors in the movie. On top of that, Ryan Howard still has some value. He hit 23 home runs last year and 29 doubles on 107 hits. Sure, his batting average was dismal, but that puts him tied for 5th in home runs among American League DH’s with 500 plate appearances. He would be 4th in doubles which puts him one spot above Prince Fielder, and 8th in hits.
Perhaps we will see some news of Ryan digging himself a new hole in the AL come all-star break. I would doubt that showing his shadow at spring training would interest enough teams to venture a whole year on him, but we can hope. The Yankees, heck, even the Orioles, are hurting at first base which could even leave the possibility of him finding a platoon job somewhere else, but that doesn’t leave the Phillies with much to play with at first either.
No matter what the case turns out to be, Phillies fans are looking at the final year of the biggest contract mistake that left us in this day of repeat since. And although the Phillies organization will not be able to fix everything in one day to keep us from waking up to the same thing tomorrow, at least we will be rid of the repeat that was Ryan Howard at the end of this season, and can look forward to the future at last.
I am always one for sentimental things. I still enjoy watching the Big Piece smash a home run over the left-center wall in Citizens Bank like it was 2008 all over again. I would live those days over, and over if I could. Ryan Howard will always have a place in my heart, and on the wall of fame in Philadelphia. Along with Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Brad Lidge, Carlos Ruiz, and the rest of the 2008 World Series Champions, the glory days will always be remembered with Ryan Howard as the Big Piece, and not the Big Contract.
Today is tomorrow, it happened.