The $125 million question: Is money as priceless as a World Series title?

One hundred twenty-five million dollars. The highly touted Philadelphia Phillies decided last spring first baseman Ryan Howard was worth that $125 million five-year contract. On Friday, however, Howard let down the team, the fans and the whole city when needed the most.

The Phillies suffered a 1-0 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in the fifth and deciding game of the National League Division Series on Friday in Philadelphia, falling tremendously short of a World Series title with their most talented club in years.

The Phillies’ loss, in particularly Howard’s final-at-bat, got me thinking – are Howard and other professional baseball players worth all that money?

Sure, Howard was the two-time All-Star who led the Phillies to two straight trips to the World Series, including a 2008 title with a 4-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.

But it’s been three years, and while the Phillies continue to improve its roster, each season ends earlier than the last.

In the 2009 World Series, the Phillies fell to the New York Yankees in six games. After leading the majors in wins for the first time, they lost to the San Francisco Giants in the 2010 National League Championship Series. This year, the Phillies didn’t even make it past the divisional series, losing to the Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park before a record-breaking 46,530 fans.

The bottom line is: since winning the pennant in 2008, the Phillies’ postseason has ended with the opposing team celebrating in Philly. Shouldn’t it be the other way around, with the Phillies popping champagne on their home turf?

As long as Howard is wearing the Phillies’ uniform, they won’t be. Howard struck out to end the Phillies’ dream the past two seasons. This year, he was two for 19 in the series against the Cardinals, grounding out to end Friday’s game and ultimately the series. That was the $125 million dollar performance we paid to see?

It was only fitting he hurt his Achilles while breaking out of the batter’s box and laying on the ground in agony until Philadelphia trainers came out to help. That’s what Howard and his millions did to the city – he crushed our hopes for another run at the title, making us suffer in pain while watching.

Don’t get me wrong. Howard’s a powerhouse, but obviously he’s not a savior. Here’s my thing – why is he being paid like one then?

He’s proved to baseball fans that he can slam one out of the park, but I have yet to see Howard come in the clutch with even a baseline drive when the Phils desperately needed a single hit.

The Phillies are the club with the second-highest payroll behind the Yankees, who the have highest paid player in third baseman Alex Rodriques with a $27.5 million dollar 10-year contract.

When professional athletes have certain expectations yet fail to fulfill, they’re going to get ripped apart. Players like Howard and A-Rod who “earn” the most money are going to get ridiculed even more. But it shouldn’t cost that much. I guess I’d rather see your average Joe get a hit when it counts rather than a homerun by Howard when it doesn’t really matter. All I can say is after Howard’s performance, I hope the City of Brotherly Love has as much liking for him as I do.

Krissy Wrobel is a senior public relations major from Reading, Pa. She can be reached at wrobelkr@shu.edu.

Author: Staff Writer

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