If you ever thought that professional athletes are oblivious to reality, here is the proof that you were right.
Apparently Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard doesn't live in the state of Pennsylvania. He lives in a state of denial. By that I mean he doesn't think he's living a charmed life and nobody would ever want to trade places with him.
Howard has had his panties in a bunch lately due to the fact that Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg benched Howard for three straight games and has talked openly about platooning his $25 million-per year "star". So when he was asked by local reporters about his situation on Sunday, after a 4-2 loss, Howard got a bit sarcastic with the media.
"You want to trade places? You want to see what it's like?" Howard said
Before every single person on the planet could answer "yes", the clueless Howard answered, "No you don't."
I've never had a big problem with Howard before, but I do now. What a complete Douchebag.
Let's review, shall we? Howard is in the middle of a five-year contract worth $125 million. He is guaranteed $60 million over the next three years. He gets paid all this money to play a game. That game is baseball, so it's not like he's even taking the punishment athletes in other sports absorb during games. He's married to a hot ex-Philadelphia Eagles cheerleader (Gold-digger). He already won a Rookie of the Year award (2005), an MVP award (2006) and a World Series championship (2008). He has all this going for him, but he doesn't think anybody would want to trade places with him right about now.
I don't know whether that makes him a dope or a jerk. Let's go with both.
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr gave Howard that ridiculous contract because of all those accomplishments he achieved early in his career. Unfortunately, his career has been in the toilet for the last few years, since he blew out his Achilles.
After averaging 50 home runs and 143 RBIs from 2006 to 2009, Howard has been a shell of his former self. His current statistics look like a fringe bench player, not a guy with one of the biggest contracts in the game. He's hitting a lowly .224 in 100 games this season. He has a decent amount of home runs (16) and RBIs (62), but that seems less impressive when you consider the fact that he has had more at-bats with runners in scoring position than any other player in Major League Baseball. He also has an unsightly 122 strikeouts in 384 at-bats. And while his career OPS (on-base % + slugging %) is .888, his OPS is only .686 this season. That is pathetic.
The Phillies have done a complete face-plant this season and Howard's struggles at the plate are one of the main reasons for that. His presence in the middle of the lineup was a key to the Phillies run of NL East division titles. Now, he isn't even starting against all right-handed pitching and he can't hit lefties at all. That isn't exactly a good return on the team's $25 million per season investment.
And it doesn't even sound like he's trying. Sandberg recently commented that Howard needs to work harder and maybe study opposing pitchers once in a while. Sandberg knows the importance of putting in the work to improve your game. Every single person who was around Sandberg during his Hall of Fame career said that nobody worked harder than he did. So if he's saying that Howard needs to work harder, he is speaking from experience.
That also makes it all the more galling that Howard thinks his life is so terrible. He isn't even working hard for all that money. No wonder the manager is fed up and won't just pencil his name into the lineup on reputation alone.
The rumor mill says that the Phillies have offered Howard to every team in baseball and are willing to eat most or all of his remaining contract. Still there are no takers. Reports are surfacing that the team will simply release the once-fearsome slugger, so that Sandberg might be able to have somebody who can actually produce in the middle of the lineup. As far-fetched as that might have sounded just a few years ago, nobody would even question such a move these days. That is how bad things have gotten for the Phillies.
But not for Howard.
Sure he stinks. Sure his career is probably over. Sure, he's hearing some well-deserved boos from the fans these days. But he's still got millions of dollars and his wife's, um, pom-poms to keep him warm at night.
Something tells me that every single person reading this would trade places with Ryan Howard in a second. It's just too bad he doesn't realize how good he has it and probably never will.
Me? I just wish Howard could "trade places" with a player on another team, so the Phillies could move on. I really "want to see what it's like" to not have his lack of production and anchor of a salary preventing the Phillies from moving forward.
Sorry if that hurts your feelings, Ryan. You want to trade places?