In our own lives, each of us will be tempted to intentionally walk our own Ryan Howards

That’s right.

Each of us faces some sort of Ryan Howard in our own lives. He’s that thing in your life that scares you, that makes you nervous, that you’ll do anything to avoid.

We intentionally walk him, metophorically, because we lack the faith in ourselves and the location of our off-speed pitches.

Maybe your boss is your Ryan Howard. Maybe it’s that girl at the other end of the bar.

But when it comes to the other team’s pitching staff, their Ryan Howard happens to be the actual Ryan Howard.

I got angry when I watched the Florida Marlins intentionally walk Ryan Howard twice on Friday night. He’s two home runs shy of Babe Ruth’s single-season home run mark. The pitchers won’t give him a chance. However, I’m sure in Babe Ruth’s time, the opposing pitchers had their own Ryan Howard to deal with.

I forced myself not to get angry when Howard trots to first base. I tell myself that baseball is a team game (which it is) and that Pat Burrell can pick up the slack (which he can’t).

A team game. A single is almost as good as a walk. You need baserunners to win. With a Ryan Howard walk, he can score on two singles.

If you ignore your own personal Ryan Howards, they’ll find a way to get you anyway.

–Fin

Ode to Mitch: "When you’re a comedian, you have to start the show strong and end the show strong. You can’t be like pancakes–all exiting at first, and by the end, you’re sick of em."

Also, Ode to "The Three Amigos"

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Bad News Bears reference

Tomorrow we play the Dodgers.

And what does that mean?

" BAD NEWS TO THE DODGERS!"

ODE TO MITCH: "I love baked potatoes, but they take so long to cook in a conventional oven. Sometimes I’ll put one in, because by the time it’s done … who knows?"

“Women. Can’t live with em ….. pass the beer nuts”

That line comes from Cheers, after Norm walks in the bar, sits on his stool and sighs. Norm accepts the situation for what it is, and then turns his attention to a superficial object that will never truly make him happy. (In this case, it’s a nut.)

But I think that line applies to the Phillies too.

I’ve been watching the Phils play some of the best ball I’ve seen since 1993. But what I like the most is their attitude. Chase Utley and Aaron Rowand have always been gamers. And their attittude has spread to guys like Pat Burrell, who has barrelled over catchers and dove for fly balls in the outfield. (Which is impressive because Pat runs like a Mac truck with the emergency brake on.)

And through all this hope and hype, I fear history will repeat itself. I fear the Phils will make a solid run at the Wild Card, fall one game shy of the Reds, and enter the offseason with a belief they will not need to improve.

Like Norm, they will be content with a nut, not a World Series ring.

I say this because I’ve seen it before.

Phillies. Can’t live with em ….. just wait till next year.

Is that a sense of hope I smell?

I do. I smell a bit of hope wafting from a Phillies ballclub that has put the MAN in MANURE.

Honestly, I’m getting really excited watching the team play now. Chase Utley’s on a hitting streak and recently surpassed No.2 on the all-time Phillies hit streak list (Set in the 19th Century, mind you.)

Ryan Howard’s hitting home runs farther than I drive to work each morning. Brett Myers (domestic assault issues aside) is throwing hard and striking batters out. Chirs Coste, god love him, is a 33 year old rookie catcher batting .330

I’m getting excited, but I should know better. I’ve been down this road before. It’s road full of promises and let downs, lined with hills of victories and valleys of slumps. Yet just when the road gets too bumpy, everything gets better.

It’s well lit, this road.

But as a veteran, I know the secret from years of experience.

It’s a one-way road.

And a 18-wheeler’s heading straight for us.

"Just wait till the year after next year."–The Philadelphia Inquirer

Ode to Mitch: "An escalator can never break . It can only become stairs. You will never see an ‘Escalator temporarily out of order’ sign.

More like ‘Escalator temporarily stairs.’ Sorry for the convenience.

Post All star break trauma

I could never give up on the Phillies.

The Phils are my constant.

The Phils have little chance of a playoff this year. They will have a fire sale soon, I’m sure. They’ll get rid of Bobby Abreu (who I hope they won’t), Pat Burrell (who I hope they will) or Mike Lieberthal (who I’ve always liked but I think it’s time, for the sake of the team. Give him a job as an announcer or something).

But my problem all these years is I’ve always held out hope that the Phils can come back after the All Star break, overcome astronomical odds and make it to the playoffs.

That’s why I could never give up on the Phils. Hope.

My father was seven years old in 1950, when for the "Whiz Kids," the Phillies team that overcame all odds, bookies and common sense and won the division.  Few believed the Phils could do it, even my father, a bigger Phils fan than I am. But they did.

It was because of Richie Ashburn and Robin Roberts–and the underlying spirit of the Philadelphia underdog–that they we won the pennant. My father tells these stories of the Phillies then, when the team–in a typical end-of-season slide–almost proved one of the greatest diappointents in Phillies history.

But they snapped together, won the last game of the year, and made it to the World Series.

I believe.

Of course, in that World Series, the Phils were swept by the Yankees. But they lost by one single run in each game. If the underdog can’t win, we at least want him to prove himself capable of playing with the Big Boys.

It’s like Rocky Balboa, who near the end of "Rocky," tells his girlfriend he knows he can’t beat the legend, Apollo Creed. He just wants to go the distance, and to prove himself even though he can’t win.

That’s why I believe in the Phils. No matter how they play–no matter how many losses they have by All Star game–deep down I know they can prove themselves, and in the midst, make me (and my father) proud to be fans.

Now let’s make some trades!

Decisions we regret, and Bobby Abreu

Who doesn’t have regrets? In life, each day, we make decisions–or don’t make decisions–nearly every minute. Most of these flutter away with the wind, never to be remembered again.

But a few of these decisions–to ask a girl to dance or to entertain trade talks with Bobby Abreu–impact us for many years.

We all have regrets.

I mention this because the fightin’ Phils are nearing the trade deadline, and one name appears above all others–Bobby Abreu.

He dogs it sometimes, I hear. He’s not a team player, I hear.

The truth is, he’s perhaps the best overall, talented ballplayer the Phils have. He works pitchers deep in the count, he has the skill to bat with two strikes against him, and he knows how to get on base better than anyone I’ve ever seen.

And, apparently, the Phillies want to trade him.

That, I feel, the Phillies will regret.

Those that stick with us over the years should be encouraged to stick with us. Trading him to the Yankees (which I’ve heard) would be clearing house of an old Phillies memory of hope and inevitable disappointment.

I know the feeling, but we as Phils fans must fight it.

Once, I didn’t ask a girl to dance. It was a long time ago, but I remember it because I regreted it at the time.

The same hold true for Bobby Abreu.

Sure, Bobby seems like he could be with anyone–he could play in New York or Boston as much as Philadelphia, and he would fit right in. He’ll probably win a World Series if he does.

But the Phils should try to keep Bobby in town. Don’t just trade him to the highest bidder.

Basically, Phils management, ask him to dance. If he says ‘yes,’ hold onto him, the future.

Ode to Kruk

So Phils legend John Kruk belts a homer in the All Star Game’s softball game for ex pros and celebrities.

Like an injured Rhino, the hefty Kruker chugs around the bases while an announcer says he heard Kruk recently lost about 60 pounds.

And then I heard the coolest line ever on television.

"60 pounds? That’s like a suitcase falling off the Queen Mary."

Priceless.

Also, Ryan Howard won the Home Run Derby, which means nothing to me. A Phillie won the derby two years in a row.

The Phillies hit home runs. That’s what they do. It’s the only thing they do.

ODE TO INKY—

"People think baseball players make $3 million and $4 million a year. They don’t realize that most of us only make $500,000.” — Pete "Inky" Incaviglia