Monday, November 20, 2006
Stephen A. Smith is a Jackass
Most of you know when I rip a sportswriter's ridiculous article, I will tear it apart piece by piece. Not so this time. I'm simply going to post sections of this article by Stephen A. Smith, which conveniently appears in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Simply overlook the awful grammar and terrible writing style, and look at the man's arguments, which are completely off the wall. Howard should beat Pujols, because despite Pujols having better stats and carrying his team to a division title (withough Pujols, the Cardinals would have been a sub-.500 team), Howard made baseball popular in Philadelphia with African-Americans. Actually, I'll go one step further: Smith's argument is that Howard should be the MVP because he is African-American. I don't want to play the race card here, but I can already see Smith has it in his hole. I'm simply calling the blind.
Only one clear choice for National League MVP
By Stephen A. Smith
Except the Phillies do have Ryan Howard. The same kid who smacked 58 homers, drove in 149 runs, batted .313, and had a .659 slugging percentage. He symbolized the only reason fans had for showing their faces around Broad and Pattison during summertime.
Oh, did I mention he should also end up as National League MVP?
The result of the voting for the National League's most valuable player is expected tomorrow and, with apologies and respect to Albert Pujols, the vote shouldn't even be close. Of course, there are naysayers who'll spew otherwise, vociferously pointing out how the league's 2005 MVP still had 49 homers with a better batting average and slugging percentage than Howard - despite missing 15 games in June because of an injury.
They'll be the same people I accuse of not paying much attention last season.
You don't just look at the stat sheets or the box scores to measure the impact of Ryan Howard. You view the landscape of MLB then ask yourself, "Where did these fans come from?"
Who are all these people who weren't watching the Phillies before? This franchise hasn't made the postseason since 1993, so why on earth are stadiums packed whenever they come to town?
Where did all the African American fans come from? Why haven't we heard about steroids? Mark McGwire? Barry Bonds?
The answer would be because there's no need. Because Howard is the real deal. He's the modern-day athlete major-league baseball was starving for.
The same can be said of Pujols, who is as big-time as they come. The St. Louis Cardinals would not have sniffed the postseason without him, let alone captured a World Series championship. But the reality is the talent that is Pujols, while fairly unique, is a dime a dozen in the laundry list of Latin talent that has invaded baseball.
When you think of Pujols, you also think of Manny Ramirez and David "Big Papi" Ortiz or Alex Rodriguez. They play great baseball, but that's it.
In Howard's case, not only has he performed, he's single-handedly transformed the focus of a sport, forcing baseball - and possibly the rest of us - to take a closer look at potential African American prospects perhaps through something more than Reviving Baseball in the Inner City (RBI) programs.
Held back - some might say hidden - by the Phillies for far too long, Howard has burst onto the scene in less than two years in the majors. And he's done it with a Magic Johnson-like smile despite the Phillies' unwillingness to show him some money and his being surrounded by limited, wannabe talent.
In the meantime, there's Howard, who ranked either first or second in homers, RBIs and slugging percentage. He's given Phillies fans a reason to hope for a change.
Perhaps he won't be better than Pujols over the long haul. Maybe Howard will fade too quickly, succumbing to the pressures of Missouri's "show me" mantra like so many St. Louis natives before him. The truth is, however, we really don't know.
All we know for sure is what happened this year, what Howard did on the diamond, what he meant for baseball.
Numbers are being retired all the time. Baseball prides itself on setting precedents while maintaining tradition.
Awarding a difference maker on the field - and in the community at large - has always been baseball's version of a home run.
Pujols deservedly got his recognition last year.
It's Howard's time now.
posted by Mr. Faded Glory @ 12:52 PM
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