Last night, the Philadelphia Phillies and Houston Astros played the real life version of that episode of South Park where they didn’t want to play baseball anymore. Ryan Howard hit a home run in the second inning, which gave the Phillies a 1-0 lead until Houston scored a run in the 7th. Then it went scoreless for another eight innings. Howard eventually drove in the winning run — actually beating the shift, truly waking up anyone who fell asleep at the game — in the bottom of the 15th. After winning the game in front of (an estimated) 600 tired fans, Howard did his best Ruben Amaro impression:
“You know, I think you guys forget what I’ve done. You guys look at what’s going on right now. People forget what I’ve done. Ryno has played the game. He knows. He knows the ups and downs of the game and he knows you’re going to have good days and bad days. For me, I’m just going to go out there and grind it out.”
When will Ruben and now Howard realize that we really appreciate what they did in the past, but it’s now six years later and that thankfulness has turned with (at best) impatience.
Chase Utley was intentionally walked to reach Howard, the sixth time this year such a thing has happened. According to Todd Zolecki, “He was 0-for-5 with one hit by pitch in those situations. He once reached on an error.” And speaking of Zolecki, he lays into the Phillies — almost as passive-aggressively as Howard poked writers and fans — in his recap, saying things like:
It was the Phillies’ fifth game of 14 or more innings this season, which tied a franchise record first set in 1958. It also was their sixth game of 13 or more innings, their most in a season since 1980, when they also played six and won the World Series …
Howard hit a home run to left-center field in the second inning against Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel. It was his 17th homer of the season as he tries to recapture some of the power and production that made him a $125 million man.
What Zolecki, fans, other media, other GMs, and basically everyone but Amaro and Howard realize is this: That can never be recaptured, and the time to remember the past is gone. It’s not even the time to think about the now. It’s time to think about the future, and has been for a long time.