The 2008 Phillies are no more as Ryan Howard played his last game as a Phillie this past Sunday.
“The 0-2 pitch, swing and a miss, struck him out! The Philadelphia Phillies are 2008 world champions of baseball!” The words of the late, great Phillies announcer Harry Kalas are still embedded in all of our minds. The year 2008 was magical for the Phillies and in 2016 the team that brought us such happiness has been fully dismembered.
During Howard’s final game, I was rooting for him to hit a couple home runs, maybe even a game winner. But after checking the box score and seeing him go 0-4, which included a strikeout and a fly ball to the infield, I couldn’t have been happier. Ryan Howard finished his final game for the Phillies in the most Ryan Howard way possible.
The first jersey I was given as a kid was that of Ryan Howard. I wanted to be just like him. As I stood in the batter’s box in little league, I extended my bat and held it upward towards the pitcher, just like Howard would do every time he went up to bat. Wanting to play like Howard also was a great excuse for striking out so often, and of course hitting home runs. Howard’s wishy-washy success at the plate might have been what made him so fun to watch. You always expected the worst from Howard, and when he would knock one over the left field wall it made it that much more exciting. While in his prime, you could always count on him to hit one out of the park to put the Phillies back into the game, which would keep fans sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for the moment to happen.
Unfortunately, people have been remembering Howard by his mediocre performance the past couple years. This past season his troubles led him to sharing his position with other players so he wouldn’t have to play everyday. However, even with all his troubles on the field, Howard should be remembered for what he has meant to this city. Thirty years from now, fans will not know Howard for his last few seasons with the Phillies, but for the huge role he played in delivering the Philadelphia Phillies its first World Series trophy since 1980.
Howard has always been a class act on and off the field. Off the field Howard is responsible for many foundations and is known to interact with any fan who wants to talk to him. On the field he has never caused any problems and would never complain about any of the criticism he has faced over the years. Even after being accused of steroid use because of the amount of home runs he hit, all of his testing always came up negative while other power hitters around the league could not say the same. The years Howard played in the MLB were known for steroids and he chose not to do them, which I will always respect.
I haven’t watched many Phillies games this year, but made sure to watch the final out of his last game on Sunday. When it hit me that the 2008 Phillies were finally over, it really hit me hard. Thank you Ryan Howard for all the memories, and thank you for everything you have done for the city of Philadelphia and for the Phillies fans who have looked up to you everywhere.