Why don’t Philly fans hate Ryan Howard?

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It’s never fair when an athlete who is otherwise a fine human being becomes hated in the town he calls home. But it does happen all the time, be it because of unfulfilled promise, injuries or overall poor play.

One of the toughest sports cities in the country is Philadelphia and one of the more disappointing players of the past few years has been Ryan Howard. Yet, as Stephen Silver points out, he’s more or less gotten a free pass:

Ryan Howard is something unique in recent Philadelphia history: He’s a superstar athlete making huge money who’s been a major disappointment, yet he hasn’t become a figure of hate among the city’s fans. Philly may be the toughest city there is on its own star athletes, yet Howard, with some exceptions, remains relatively popular.

Silver lists a number of reasons for this. And assuming he’s right, which I think he is, it evidences some pretty mature and sophisticated sentiment on the part of Phillies fans as a whole.

Which, really guys, you have to cut that out. You keep doing that and you’ll totally kill the schtick I have going on here.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.