A-Rod Out, Ryan Howard In—Steroids And True Heroes

Cj LeeCorrespondent IFebruary 12, 2009

I, like most fans am just plain tired of finding out about athlete after athlete cheating in order to get ahead. Records being broken by those who don't deserve to be mentioned in the same breathe as them.

Steroida weren't around when such players as Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Mickey Mantle, Lou Gherig, or Roger Maris were around!

The last person I mentioned played for the love of the game as do a lot of players these days do. He didn't have to cheat to achieve greatness, he strived for it. Hard work, faith, and dedication was what it took in those days to be great. These days who knows what a person could take just to get an advantage.

In a league surrounded by turmoil, distraction from a steroids, and unrelenting interference from the government, thank God we have some players out there who are just like the old guys. Although they get paid a bit more than those of yesteryear, with the increased in overall financial gain for teams, they can afford to be paid that much!

This article is intended to get the word out about who I and most people believe is the next big thing in baseball. His name is Ryan Howard and this is his story!

Ryan James Howard was born on November 19, 1979 in St. Louis, Missouri. He attended Missouri State University where he was eventually drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the fifth round of the 2001 amateur draft. He signed his first professional contract on July 2, 2001. Preferred Bat: Mahogany Marucci RH6 Custom Cut.

He first debuted on September 1, 2004. An injury to Thome during the 2005 season paved the way for Howard, who had 22 homers and 63 RBI in just 88 games to win the NL Rookie of the Year award. Here are a few things that should catch everyone's eye and put to rest doubt in any way!

  • Fastest Player In MLB History to 150 Home Runs
  • Since June 2005: Leads Majors In Hr (175) & RBI (494)
  • Has At Least 40 HR And 100 RBI In Each Of First 3 Full Seasons
  • Career: .279, 177 HR, 499 RBI in 3 1/2 Seasons
  • 2005: National League Rookie of the Year   
  • 2006: National League Silver Slugger
  • 2006: National League Most Valuable Player   
  • 2006: National League Hank Aaron Award

Most impressive, he's done it with raw natural power and a sweet left-handed stroke.

Howard's name has never been linked to steroid allegations in an era when many star players have come under scrutiny for using performance-enhancing drugs. The 6'4", 252-pound Howard comes from a big family and has two brothers bigger than him.

In 2008, he hit .251 with 48 HR (led Majors) and 146 RBI (led Majors). His most telling stats are actually:

At Bats: 626 | Flyball: 38.8% | Groundball: 27.6% | Strikeout: 31.8% | GIDP: 1.8%

So people point to his average and strikeouts. He only struck out 31.8% of the time and that should improve this year as well as his average. Perhaps that's why Howard already started training in Florida long before his teammates are due to report.

Pitchers and catchers arrive in Clearwater on Saturday. With his contract settled, Howard can focus on having a better start. He has a .230 average in April, his lowest in any month. Last year, he batted just .168 the first month.

His dedication has pursuaded the Phillies to sign Howard to a three-year deal worth $54 million this past offseason, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

The 2006 NL MVP will earn $15 million this season, $19 million next year, and $20 million in 2011. He can increase the base salary by $1 million in each of the last two years if he wins the MVP award during the previous year. He can boost it by $500,000 if he finishes second.

In addition to the two sides now avoiding an arbitration hearing later this week, the Phillies have successfully bought out the rest of Howard's arbitration years at what appears to be market value through the 2011 season.

Howard will turn 30 in November, so he'll get a chance to earn a big contract on the open market as a 32-year-old upon the completion of his new deal.

He is a good enough player to warrant comments from Phillies GM Ruben Amaro,Jr:

"Ryan is clearly one of the top power hitters and run producers in the major leagues and is a very important part of our championship club."

"Ryan wants to be a complete player," Amaro said. "He's motivated to do that. Ryan is the kind of guy who won't be satisfied with the numbers he's already put up. And obviously that's beneficial to our club."

I once watched an interview with Ryan and his parents which was really a bit of a shock. His mother actually manages his money and gives him an allowance. He is a humble giant, a piece of a championship team, a guy with a great personality, and just the guy that MLB needs to lead us into the next generation.

p.s. I may get some bad reviews for my next statement. Don't be surprised if Albert Pujols is one of the 103 others in the report!!


    Mariners Rallying to Get Ichiro in HR Derby

    MLB logo

    Mariners Rallying to Get Ichiro in HR Derby

    via sports.MyNorthwest.com

    Report: Omaha to Host Tigers-Royals Before 2019 CWS

    MLB logo

    Report: Omaha to Host Tigers-Royals Before 2019 CWS

    Adam Wells
    via Bleacher Report

    Shayne Gostisbehere 1st Pitch at Phillies Game

    Philadelphia Phillies logo
    Philadelphia Phillies

    Shayne Gostisbehere 1st Pitch at Phillies Game

    David Malandra
    via Philadelphia Sports Nation

    Cubs Closer Morrow (Back) Hits DL

    MLB logo

    Cubs Closer Morrow (Back) Hits DL

    Mike Axisa
    via CBSSports.com