Mike Schmidt is possibly the only voice some people need to hear in regards to Phillies baseball. In fact, the possibility exists that not even Mike Schmidt knows this, but if he decrees anything within Philadelphia city limits, it is automatically a city ordinance. With the wave of a scepter, the police become his personal army and the mayor, whoever is filling the role, is to surrender power, putting Philadelphia's many resources (meat sandwiches of all kinds, dead cats, insecurities being projected as anger or prejudice) at his personal disposal.
But Schmidt hasn't made any edicts of late, leaving the city tense and directionless. Finally, grateful, hungry multitudes poured forth from their winter shelters to hear him speak on the topic of Ryan Howard on 97.5 The Fanatic:
"Ryan is going to be kind of like me at the end of my career. There was myself in the late '80's. There was Von Hayes. And there were a bunch of young kids who were just trying to learn how to play the game and compete in the Major Leagues. I really needed to be a DH on a contending team. That's where I really needed to be. No one said that to me."
It's all cyclical, Mike Schmidt says. This has all happened before and it will all happen again. Unfortunately, Schmidt's political power is not recognized outside of Philadelphia, where all the teams that Howard could go play for that aren't the Phillies exist. So he can't just make this happen, no matter how much he thinks it should.
Many days from now, the city may lament how a 42-year -old J.P. Crawford, with a horrible grizzled beard and the vicious ancient hound at his side would be better off with another organization, since he's blocking the development of some as-yet hypothetical shortstop prospect with some real moves, and also because everyone knows his dire wolf devoured the Phanatic but everyone's too mortified to talk about it.
I'm sure Howard wants to be on another team by now, appreciative of his career in Philadelphia, but sick of hearing people say he needs to get out. But he embodies so much about the previous era, the franchise seems like it won't even begin to move on before he goes.
There have been multiple stories this week using the buzzword "awkward" to describe the forthcoming Phillies preseason, and this dynamic is one of the driving forces of that feeling. How do you train alongside the franchise player whom the team has blabbed so openly about ditching that it's not even tip-toed around anymore? It's just said out loud by the organization's biggest icon on the radio.
After Jimmy Rollins' bittersweet departure - a prolonged ordeal in its own right but brief in comparison to Howard's eventual exit - it's a shame Howard will get scrutinized and blasted for anything that holds up the process during spring training with a team he knows doesn't want him anymore. After such grating tribulations with his family, you have to feel for the guy. Or project your insecurities on him via anger or prejudice or devouring meat sandwiches.
Quickly now, into the Youtube hole, where it's warm.