Philly columnist writes open letter to Ryan Howard begging him to retire

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One of the worst gimmicks in journalism is the open letter. They’re self-important. They’re also disingenuous in that they forego the work of actually convincing readers of something and, instead, assume they all agree and that the writer is merely communicating that consensus to the recipient. Also: the subject of an open letter is almost always stupid itself. If it was interesting, one would just write a column rather than glitz it up like that.

Today’s open letter from Stu Bykofsky of the Philadelphia Daily News is no different in this regard. It purports to be addressed to Ryan Howard, imploring him to retire:

Of our 2008 heroes, only you and Chooch, Carlos Ruiz, remain.

Both of you are slowly sliding into the shadows.

You’ve gone from the Big Piece to the Big Load.

Since blowing up your Achilles’ tendon in 2011, you haven’t been the same. The comeback year you and we expected never came.

Don’t do this to us, Ryan. Don’t make us hate you. Don’t make the Phillies cut you.

Retire at season’s end. Please.

It’s dumb for a lot of reasons, but the dumbest is its central premise: that a ballplayer’s career decisions should be made based on the caprice of fans as opposed to his desire to still play and a team’s desire to still employ him. That’s the unstated conceit of all manner of sports commentary, however, primarily on talk radio. That what Joe from Bucks County or whatever thinks of a given player should be how the team thinks of him. It’s an offshoot from the overrated/underrated and “he’s a bum” school of sports analysis.

Ryan Howard is finishing out a contract that was not great for the Phillies and he has not been the same player since his big injury at the end of 2011, but whether some lame columnist is pained to see him play is about the last thing he or the Phillies should consider when deciding how long he wears red pinstripes.

Braves ace Mike Soroka out for year with torn Achilles

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Atlanta Braves ace Mike Soroka is out for the season after tearing his right Achilles tendon Monday night against the New York Mets.

Soroka was hurt in the third inning after delivering a pitch to J.D. Davis, who grounded the ball toward first baseman Freddie Freeman.

Soroka broke toward first to cover the bag, only to go down on his first step off the mound. The right-hander knew right away it was a devastating injury, one that ensures he won’t be back on the mound until 2021.

“It’s a freak thing that happened,” manager Brian Snitker said, delivering the grim news after the Braves lost 7-2 to the Mets. “I’m sorry it did.”

Soroka yelled in obvious pain and tried to walk gingerly for a couple of steps before dropping to his knees. He couldn’t put any weight on the leg as he was helped toward the clubhouse with the assistance of Snitker and a trainer.

It was a major blow to the two-time defending NL East champion Braves, who had won five straight despite struggling to put together an effective rotation.

“Somebody else is going to get an opportunity,” Snitker said. “Things like that happen. These guys will regroup. Somebody is going to get an opportunity to do something really good. Our young guys are going to continue to get better. We’re going to be fine.”

Soroka, who turns 23 on Tuesday, made his first opening day start last month after going 13-4 with a dazzling 2.68 ERA in 2019 to finish second in NL Rookie of the Year balloting and sixth for the Cy Young Award.

Soroka was making his third start of the season. He came in having allowed just two earned runs over 11 1/3 innings but struggled against the Mets, giving up three hits and four walks. He was charged with four earned runs in 2 1/3 innings, the second-shortest outing of his career.

Unfortunately for Soroka, he won’t get a chance to make up for it this season.