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Why don’t Philly fans hate Ryan Howard?

Jul 11, 2013, 4:37 PM EDT

ryan howard getty Getty Images

It’s never fair when an athlete who is otherwise a fine human being becomes hated in the town he calls home. But it does happen all the time, be it because of unfulfilled promise, injuries or overall poor play.

One of the toughest sports cities in the country is Philadelphia and one of the more disappointing players of the past few years has been Ryan Howard. Yet, as Stephen Silver points out, he’s more or less gotten a free pass:

Ryan Howard is something unique in recent Philadelphia history: He’s a superstar athlete making huge money who’s been a major disappointment, yet he hasn’t become a figure of hate among the city’s fans. Philly may be the toughest city there is on its own star athletes, yet Howard, with some exceptions, remains relatively popular.

Silver lists a number of reasons for this. And assuming he’s right, which I think he is, it evidences some pretty mature and sophisticated sentiment on the part of Phillies fans as a whole.

Which, really guys, you have to cut that out. You keep doing that and you’ll totally kill the schtick I have going on here.

  1. stikolaboloni - Jul 11, 2013 at 8:21 PM

    Huh? I live in Philly and can say without any debate he gets criticized more than anyone else in this city. Not sure who came up with this story idea

    • kingofzed - Jul 11, 2013 at 8:46 PM

      Maybe now that it is the off-season for the three other majors although I could make a case for the terrible M Vick. In April I would have said Bryzgalov, Bynum, and Sixers Management. Flyers Management should be in there too but Flyers fans are delusional (Go Rinaldo-Psh).

    • don444 - Jul 13, 2013 at 3:43 AM

      I don’t doubt that the premise presented in this article is a bit exaggerated and that he has more than his share of haters given the overpaid and unproductive realities he carries around these days, but Ryan Howard is unquestionably the MOST criticized man in Philly? Perhaps that’s true on your block, but I highly doubt that in general.

  2. kingofzed - Jul 11, 2013 at 8:41 PM

    We do not hate Howard. We wish he and Rollins would adapt with their age. That being said he has been solid defensively (granted he never makes the throw to, well anywhere), he plays until his leg breaks off (the only deserved comparison to DMac), he still manages to get RBI’s ( will be second on the team for a while despite the time on the DL), and we know that when healthy he is still dangerous. Yes he is paid too much but you never know he could turn it around like Ortiz. OH YEAH, he won a Championship, MVP, and Rookie of the Year. As long as he gets to 400 Home runs in Philly (likely) he will go down as one of the greats. The haters have short memories, these are the same people who wanted to trade D Brown until May and Revere until June; now they are the toast of the town.

    • tfoz5150 - Jul 12, 2013 at 12:44 PM

      yeah but, he is an automatic out come playoff time. Now, it doesn’t even have to be the playoffs. He just stinks. Hopefully, the injury had something to do with it, but Im afraid he may just be spent. that being said I’d still take him over A-rod.

  3. slammed81 - Jul 11, 2013 at 9:31 PM

    How do u have a job?? Seriously how do u… This is the laziest article on this site ever… listen to sports radio for a week Howard gets criticized on a daily basis and has been that way for years… Do ur homework… Just plain stupid

    • makeham98 - Jul 11, 2013 at 10:27 PM

      Lazy is the word. Why not bring up Santa Claus while you’re at it?

      Craig’s web hits must be down so he has to post this sort of garbage again.

  4. theanswer0381 - Jul 11, 2013 at 9:56 PM

    howard won a WS here first off. Secondly he isnt near as bad as people say. He was batting 270 this year with a bad left knee. Is that so bad as to be “hated.” The guy also doesnt avert blame like McNabb used to. Howard is the man. He is very likeable as a person and as a player he gets frustrating alot of times but he plays better than alot of people give him credit for. I watch every game and he isnt that bad. Theres no reason to “hate” him

  5. macjacmccoy - Jul 11, 2013 at 9:57 PM

    He won a Rookie of the Year Award. He Won a NL MVP Award. He won the 2008 World Series. He won the 2009 NL Pennant. He gives all out effort every night and plays hurt for as long as he can. Heck he even won a HR Derby.

    The better question is how could any Philly fan hate Howard when he’s brought more awards to the city then any athlete in the last 30 years.

  6. mancave001 - Jul 11, 2013 at 10:16 PM

    The whole organization gets a pass in many ways, especially Howard, Manuel and Utley. Rollins got jumped on for his attitude, but anyone who won in 2008 and a few others get passes (notably Cliff Lee and Doc). The pass is coming to an end though. No playoffs this year means Manuel is likely gone. Howard hasn’t been the same since the Achilles tear, and might be next.

  7. 3 Finger Lenny - Jul 11, 2013 at 11:34 PM

    Howard gets killed everyday in Philly. Well deserved too

  8. ingloriousbastardos - Jul 12, 2013 at 1:40 AM

    This is pretty easy… let’s play a game: Who gets served first?

    Alex Rodriguez walks into a bar in New York/Seattle…

    Johnny Damon walks into a bar in Boston…

    Andres Torres/Guillermo Mota walk into a bar in San Francisco…

    Mark Wohlers walks into a bar in Atlanta…

    Jason Isringhausen walks into a bar in St. Louis…

    Chad Durbin/Mitch Williams walk into a bar in Philadelphia…

    The reality is that even though Durbin is like the herpes of Phillies baseball history we still love him. Do you think John Kruk has a job as an ESPN analyst because he has good hair? Nope. Same for Mitch Williams on MLB. Jim Thome never won us a World Series yet I guarantee there is some first grader in Mayfair named James Thome D’Angelo this very minute. You know that experience where you are hanging out with your friends complaining about your old man and then your friend says “yeah your dad sucks” and you get pissed because “dude that’s my dad”. Same game.

    Philly fans are through and through and live or die the city’s pulse goes with their sports. For god’s sake, when we resigned Cliff Lee the newspaper knew straight away to put up billboard that basically said “we’re sorry, we love you, thanks for coming back.” Pontificate all you will about his trade value… THAT billboard is why he won’t be traded this fall. Tell me another city where the GM won’t trade someone because he fears the fanbase outcry. Trust us, he does.

    No other city save maybe Boston (before everybody started winning) understands that. No not Chicago pre-White Sox world series wins. No not San Diego/Seattle/Cleveland/Milwaukee. Philly still venerates its athletes the way it used to be. Babe Ruth was a jacka**. Same for Ty Cobb. We will tear them down the same way we will tear down family, until push comes to shove and then we will love them forever. Bill Buckner? Never would have happened in Philadelphia. On October 26, 2008 if Mitch Williams (or Joe Carter) walked into the bar I was at I would have bought him a drink. That’s the measure of a man. That’s the measure of a fan. That wouldn’t happen in every other city. At least not as quickly.

    Why is Ryan Howard loved. Because in 2004 I was talking to my buddy Jeff about this rookie that was about to come up that had a stick. He struck out a lot but man when he got a hold of one. Then from 2005-2008 he showed everyone what it meant to be a Phillies fan. He made the city breathe again. Like David Ortiz in the 2004- for 3 years Howard was always there, doing amazing things (okay sometimes it was Werth… god I wish he was in left field right now). Sure his sabermetrics suck. Sure he couldn’t beat Kruk down the line TODAY. But he made our city amazing for 3 glorious years.

    In Philly, where sports truly are king, that’s enough for a lifetime.

    • stlouis1baseball - Jul 12, 2013 at 9:27 AM

      Great illustration Bastardos! Good post.
      I would add for similar reasons Andy VanSlyke (even after being traded to Pittsburgh) or any number of other ex Cardinals could walk into a restaurant in St. Louis and have his dinner tab picked up. Yep…even Andy F’in Vanslyke.

  9. raycornwall - Jul 12, 2013 at 2:51 PM

    Why don’t we hate him?
    1. 2008.
    2. Always plays as hard as his body lets him.
    3. Worked hard to lose weight and try to adjust to what pitchers were throwing him (it didn’t work on the latter, but the effort was evident).
    4. Genuinely good guy from all reports.
    5. Never shies away from the criticism. Ever read an article about Howard being “surly” or “difficult”? Nope.
    6. The contract was karmic payback on the Phillies ownership for years of pretending that they were in a small market.

    I wish he’d produce better, sure. I wish he hadn’t gotten hurt. But he’ll always be one of my favorite Phillies, up there with the 93 team, Doc, Lee, Rollins, Schmitty, Lefty, Whitey, Harry The K, Schill, and Terry Mulholland (hey, he signed an autograph for me while bleeping Don Carman walked away).

  10. jimeejohnson - Jul 13, 2013 at 12:50 PM

    Philly fans got a bad wrap from a few harmless episodes. There are a lot more lovers than haters. Don Juan came from Philly. So did Romeo and Juliet. Whadya mean, “no”?

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