Ryan Howard entered as a pinch-hitter with two outs in the ninth inning on Saturday. He hit a grounder, was thrown out at first base and that was that.
Until a fan along the first base sideline decided to toss a Bud Light Lime bottle at Howard.
The Phillies had just dropped their 14th game in 16 contests since May 27, and Howard knows Tommy Joseph’s playing time will be increasing by the week. There was already enough frustration in the first baseman; having a fan toss something at him set him off.
“I just turned around and saw it down by my feet,” Howard said. “I don’t play that s—. To me, that’s crossing the line and it becomes a security issue. That stuff infuriates me. If you want to yell out what you want to yell out, that’s fine. But when you start throwing stuff, the minute it gets physical it gets personal. That’s the way I look at it.”
Colton Murray, who shares a stall right by Howard, wasn’t even aware the situation happened since he was all the way out in the bullpen. After Howard finished speaking with reporters, he quickly went up him and said, “Wait, that really happened?” before shaking his head in disgust.
It’s something that no professional athlete — or human being — should ever have to go throw.
The critics have been out in full force on Howard the past few seasons, but he knows that’s because of his play on the field, not about the person he is. So when a fan decides to physically take their frustrations out on him, that’s when it crosses the line.
“If somebody throws, we’re just supposed to sit there and wear it?” Howard said. “Nah, man. We’re human beings, first. People get it twisted. They see the baseball stuff, they don’t see you has a human being.”
This is the first time something like this has ever happened to Howard. It certainly came as a surprise.
“We have to be held to a high standard, the fans should have to be held at a high standard,” Howard said. “It’s tough enough playing the game, and you have stupid people like that that are going to throw stuff. It’s not right.”
“It’s OK for him to throw a bottle and go home on his merry way? That s— don’t work.”
Howard is in the midst of a season that has seen him bat .151 and batting 1-for-15 in his last seven games entering Sunday. There’s no reason he, or anyone on this team or any of the other 29 clubs, should have to experience something like that.
There have not been any repercussions yet, but Howard hopes someone is held accountable for the action.