03.25.06

Ryan Howard Is A Good Sport

Posted in Baseball at 10:22 pm by

Few things would put a smile on my face this season like the Philadelphia Phillies making their long suffering fans suffer just a little more. My own screwy bias aside, the Jim Thome-replacing, HR crushing 1B Ryan Howard seems like an ok guy, if only for tolerating this line of questioning from City Paper’s Dave Hollander (link courtesy Maria).

CP: Comparisons have been made between you and former long-ball-slugging Phillies first baseman Dick Allen, who won Rookie of Year honors in 1964. At the 102nd Philadelphia Sports Writers Association banquet in February honoring the two of you, Allen publicly acknowledged you in his speech. What private conversations have you had with Dick Allen?

RH: I haven’t had too many. I talked to him while I was at the event, and I’ve seen him a couple times here then there at spring training. He basically told me to “keep doing it.” To have fun, keep after it and stay with what I’m doing.

CP: In 1969, the Phillies suspended Allen for 26 days. He returned to hostile hometown fans who pelted him with fruit, ice, garbage and batteries in addition to obscenities and racial epithets. Philadelphia sports fans can be tough on their stars even in good times. What advice did “Crash” Allen give you about dealing with Philly fans and media?

RH: Can we hold on just one second? I’m gonna order some food real quick and then I’m gonna kill that answer.

CP: Sure.

RH: [To the attendant at the drive-in window.] Can I get some large fries, crispy. And can I get two bacon, beef and cheddar sandwiches. Um ¦ and some Minute Maid lemonade. [To CP.] Sorry about that. Now about how much advice he gave me about the fans and the media? Not too much. I mean, I don’t know the entire story of whatever went on [with Allen] but I’ve learned a lot being up with the team last year and seeing how the fans are. So far I have had a pretty good reception, but the fans are tough. They expect a lot out of their teams, and rightfully so. Still, it’s been good for me and I’m happy that they welcomed me. I’ve seen nothing but good things from them so far. Hopefully I can stay on their good side.

CP: After Dick Allen had hit a home run over the left- centerfield roof of Philadelphia’s old Connie Mack Stadium, Willie Stargell said, “Now I know why they boo Richie all the time. When he hits a home run, there’s no souvenir.” After some of your signature tape-measure jobs last year, has anyone asked to check your bat?

RH: Ummm ¦ no.

CP: How about checking your urine?

RH: I think everybody has to do that.

CP: Your father, Ron Howard, has been a major influence on your personal and professional development. How often does he get confused with the Hollywood film director of the same name?

RH: Not at all.

CP: Some religious groups have come out squarely against Ron Howard’s new film, a big-screen adaptation of the best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code. How far should free speech go when so many people are offended?

RH: That’s what makes it free speech. Not everybody is going to like what you have to say about things. If it’s going to be the case where people will get upset I think there’s certain situations where you might want to exercise a little restraint. But any movie about religion is going to stir some things up. It’s pretty much expected. When they had that Mel Gibson movie, The Passion of Christ, it was the same way. You start offending people’s beliefs, they’re going to get upset.

8 Responses to “Ryan Howard Is A Good Sport”

  1. notorius says:

    What a crazy interview! Dick Allen only played 1 season at first for the Phillies.

  2. Chuck Meehan says:

    Those looking to revel in Philly misery (okay, the rest of the country plus perhaps a few readers of Seething Wells Guardian essays) could look more to the recent Cowboys signing of Terrell Owens (who will torch Lito Sheppard next season) as far as rubbing it in as expectations arent very high for the Phillies 2006. The general consensus is another 85-88 win season and Gillick is getting a pass until 2007. As this goofy interview illustrates, Howard is a laid-back easygoing gent who handled the frustrating issue of the Jim Thome roadblock that delayed his entry to the bigs with a lot of patience and class. If anything, Howard would be far more analogous to the man he replaced in the Phils lineup than to Richie Allen.

  3. Mr. Furley says:

    Man, ease up on the Phillies fans. Okay, at least some of us. There are a number of us (although yeah, probably a minority) who are thoughtful and intelligent and absolutely loathe being lumped together with the “I-bought-my-ticket-I-have-a-right-to-boo!” crowd.

    The above interview is emblematic of the city and the local media’s obsession with casting players into roles, whether they fit into them or not. This has plagued Bobby Abreu throughout his career here, as he has committed the venal sin of being an excellent offensive contributor but without taking any kind of perceived “leadership role” on the team. Leaders on Philadelphia teams must be: 1. glib; 2. cocky, and; 3. generally assholish (see: Pete Rose, Darren Daulton… okay, add “white” to the above list as well). The only reason Howard was compared to Allen is that both are black, as if being a black, power-hitting first baseman is some kind of rarity in the history of the game. Jesus, guys, what a worthless fuckin’ conceit.

    So please keep us in mind. We’re fighting on more than one front: The fight against organizational ineptitude, the fight against the local media’s ignorance, and the fight against the tide of the fanbase’s general stupidity. Please don’t make those of us who are eloquent enough to engage in civilized debate bear the burden of the city’s enormous inferiority complex.

  4. GC says:

    F –

    my intense, irrational dislike for the Phillies and their Phans has everything to do with their being an NL East rival of the team I like and zilch to do with any notion that their rooters are subhumans. I honestly don’t believe the people of Philadelphia have any monopoly on uncouth behavior.

    “The only reason Howard was compared to Allen is that both are black”

    Indeed. Though I’m not sure the above interview qualifies as a serious baseball piece compared to the author’s attempts to goad the good-natured Howard into something more inflammatory.

  5. Mr. Furley says:

    GC -

    Of course Philadelphia doesn’t have a monopoly on uncouth behavior. I’m one of the first people to get up-in-arms when some sports slut says “Only in Philadelphia would [fill in the blank awful thing] happen…”, especially when we see examples every day of other cities’ fans being awful. Examples: The White Sox fans who bum-rushed the Royals’ coach, the Browns fans throwing bottles at their own team. But at the same time, saying that those cities are worse than Philadelphia fans is probably a stretch. There’s a unique, poisonous quality to the fandom atmosphere in this city… something about hating your own teams/players more than you hate your opponents, which is just bizarre. A not small portion of the fanbase here would be happier to see the Phillies finish 60-102 and in last place than be a 92-70 Wild Card team with a first-round playoff exit. If you want a real treat, find the rest of that City Paper article, and the point/counterpoint between the pessimist and the optimist (http://www.citypaper.net/articles/2006-03-23/cover4.shtml).

    Dick Allen is symbolic of a lot of ugliness in the history of Philadelphia, and not just its sports history. Allen became something of a lightning rod for a lot of hateful energy during the era of 1960s racial strife. Invoking Allen conjures some very, very disturbing memories for a lot of people. There are revisionists (“Dick Allen was always my favorite player!”), but by-and-large Allen was the most loathed superstar the city has ever seen, and much of it had to do with the color of his skin. Of course, it didn’t help that Allen was, by most accounts, an asshole.

    Goading star athletes into making inflammatory statements is something of a cottage industry in the national sports media, but Philadelphia has turned it into a fine art.

  6. notorius says:

    Wasn’t Dick Allen, “Richie” Allen on the Phillies?

  7. Mr. Furley says:

    Wasn’t Dick Allen, “Richie” Allen on the Phillies?

    Yeah, but he’s made it known over the years that he wants to be called “Dick,” so in my own inconsequential way I try to oblige.

  8. Chuck Meehan says:

    Mr Furley- The first professional baseball game I attended was at Connie Mack Stadium in 1969. I was stoked as I was going to see Richie Allen play. The game was like a near lynch mob. I would like to recommend the excellent book September Swoon (google it) which centers around the Collapse of 1964 and uses that as the center of the story of the mid-sixties Phillies. Take it from a eyewitness… you will never consider Richie Allen a “by most accounts an asshole” and you will respect Allen for not secreting a firearm under his uniform, whipping it out and unloading it into the grandstand out of sheer defensive panic….Mr F, dont take my 85-88 wins as writing the the season off and getting all negadelphian. The Phightin’s will be in the mix, I will be rooting hard and if Brett Myers gets over his quirk of unraveling when Reyes/Furcal/Tavares etc gets onbase and steals second, he will the the dominant ace that the Phils need to get into October.. I appreciate your take and please drop a line @ cjmeehan@yahoo.com

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