The Best Thing That Happened This Week: Ryan Howard Won a Game for the Phils

And not in his usual way.

It hasn’t been easy watching Ryan Howard this season. On a team that’s been surprisingly entertaining, he’s been a chasm of grim: batting a frigid .151, 65 strikeouts to 16 walks, a team-worst -1.8 WAR. For those who remember his heyday, every at-bat has been a wake, a funerary retrospective on what once was: Rookie of the Year, NL MVP, NLCS MVP, three-time All Star, World Series champ. Home run king. The Big Piece. It only makes it worse that by all accounts, he’s a damn nice guy — well, right up until some numbnuts throws a beer bottle at him. Back in 2007, a Philly Mag profile of the first baseman was headlined “Ryan Howard Will Not Let You Down.” But he has, and he knows he has, and that’s the worst part of all these days when he steps to the plate. Which is why, staying up too late on Tuesday night, we were so happy to see him win the Phils’ game against the Diamondbacks in most uncharacteristic fashion: by walking with the bases loaded. Okay, so his contract extension may be baseball’s worst ever. But he was the best, once upon a time. And it was fun to cheer for him again.

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