Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard provided the Phillies’ only run in a 9-1 loss to the Nationals on Friday, blasting a solo homer to right field in the ninth inning off of Yusmeiro Petit. The home run marked the 361st in the slugger’s career, tying him with Joe DiMaggio for 81st on baseball’s all-time leaderboard.
No one, at least in the last five years, has ever entertained the thought that Howard is comparable to DiMaggio in hitting prowess. But Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully, in relaying the news on Friday, took the opportunity to praise DiMaggio at the expense of Howard. Andy Merritt went to the trouble of transcribing the comment, which you can hear on Streamable:
Howard was, for a while, a lightning rod for criticism among Phillies fans because after signing a five-year, $125 million extension, he represented the divide between statistical traditionalists and proponents of Sabermetrics. But as the last five years of his career have been hampered by serious injuries, and a much-publicized familial strife affected his on-field play, he’s become a sympathetic player again. Slamming Howard now, when he’s going through the motions in the final year of his contract with the Phillies, is to kick a guy while he’s down sadistically. It’s likely the case that Scully wasn’t aware of the tone he conveyed, as he certainly hasn’t made a name for himself by ripping into players.