Sports Illustrated will announce its choice for Sportsman of the Year on Dec. 4. Below are some personal choices for that honor by SI writers.
11/15/2006 03:50:00 PM
My Sportsman: Ryan Howard
During his monster '06 season, Ryan Howard hit .313 with 58 home runs and 149 RBI.
By John Donovan
The man is 6-foot-4, crushes a baseball as if it's attacking him and has hands like a pair of iron oven mitts. I like my Sportsman of the Year to be bigger than life, you know? And Ryan Howard, the friendly giant of a first baseman for the Phillies, is one big dude.
Already, a little more than two years into his major league career, the legend surrounding this Missouri-born masher is Bunyanesque. Folks in the St. Louis suburb where he grew up -- and grew and grew -- still talk about a homer he hit more than 400 feet -- as a 12-year-old. There's the story of his almost unheard-of feat at Lafayette High, where he played football and played in the marching band. (He'd shed his shoulder pads, pick up his trombone and fall into formation in cleats and football pants.)
He's mastered overcoming adversity, too. Howard was demoted to the junior varsity in his sophomore year of high school and had to walk on at Southwest Missouri State. He was a mere fifth-round draft choice of the Phillies in 2001 and didn't stick in the bigs until his May '05 call-up, when he already was 25.
Now, he has a Rookie of the Year trophy ('05), a Home Run Derby win ('06), a home run and RBI title (58 and 149 in '06) and he just completed a five-game sweep through Japan with a team of American All-Stars in which he was named Most Valuable Player, hitting .558 with four homers and eight RBIs. In Japan, Godzilla has nothing on Ryan Howard.
Howard has an oversized humility about him: He handed all the hoo-ha over his bid for 60-plus homers -- some envisioned him as the "non-juiced" home run champ if he had surpassed Roger Maris' 61 homers -- with a calm that most players rarely can summon.
Oversized accomplishments and an under-control ego? That's big in my book. Sportsman of the Year-type big.
Hmmm Ryan Howard. Look at his numbers and he's almost comparable to Albert Pujols. Albert has a higher batting average and agree that Howard hit 10 more homers but he did that with 100 more at bats and about 120 more strikeouts than Albert. Plus Albert plays better defense, runs better and overall may be the most feared hitter in baseball. Also humble and has been successful for his entire career. Also a great humanitarian. Therefore I vote for Albert with Howard perhaps 2nd.
Albert Pujols may be the best hitter in baseball but that doesn't mean he should win every award every year. 2006 was Ryan Howard's year. Yes, he played more games than Pujols but that's because Pujols got hurt. Being healthy is part of it. To use the fact that Howard played more games against him is insane. If Pujols was healthy all year then maybe he would have put up numbers Howard couldn't come close to. But the fact of the matter is he wasn't healthy all year, he missed games and he didn't put up numbers that were better than Ryan Howard. That is why it is Howard's year. Yearly awards aren't given out to players people think are better players overall. They are given out to the player most deserving of the award based on just the past year. This past year belonged to Ryan Howard regardless of the reasons. Therefore he should win every award he is in the running for.
I am tired of hearing about the strikeout thing. Since when has anyone other than a pitcher won an award based on strikeouts? When we're talking about HR's, RBI's and BA who cares about the SO.
There is debate on whether or not he is even the most dominant in his sport, and for that, he should not be considered. Tiger Woods or Roger Federer are the tops of their class, and will one day be called the greatest in their sports. I would go with one of those two before anyone else.
Have to go with the big guy on this...his numbers would have been a lot more impressive if opposing teams hadn't spent the month of September walking him, IBB's in the first inning of games were unheard of before Ryan Howard came along plus the fact he had no one batting behind him.
I think that Howard has just had a great year and that he may someday become an amazing player. But for now, he's just a very good player. The Sportsman of the Year should at least be the best player in his own league. Strikeouts do not matter as much a people say they do but Pujols was much better in other areas. He led Howard in OBP, SLG, and VORP, a Baseball Prospectus stat that leans towards palyers with more playing time. Howard may get a Sportsman of the Year award sometime, but this is not his year. What about Peyton Manning or Johan Santana or someone.
There may be better candidates but I won't argue with this choice. Something else in Ryan Howard's favor-in this age of inflated sports salaries and me-first players, here is a guy who is not only a class guy, but had an amazing season while making not much more than $300K. His production per $ was off the charts. And to his credit, Howard never once ever alluded to his relatively tiny salary in comparison to his peers, nor hinted that he should see a raise in 07. That's admirable in this age of mediocre players making $10M per year and demanding trades and raises every other day.
John Donovan was saying "sportsman of the year" not baseball player of the year. and most opf you are arguing baseball stats and not sporstman stas.
His point is this man has won a slew of awards including the MVP award over in Japan and the Homw run Derby going head to head with the best players in the world. Look past the baseball stats and into what type of guy he is. Despite all the awards and accolades Mr.Howard is still as modest as ever and that more than stats is why i would agree he is sportsman of the year.
The whole Pujols vs. Howard argument is tiresome. Advocates of both players can make strong arguments for each. If I had to pick one player to build a team around, it would be Pujols, not Howard, as Albert is clearly the superior player (any objective comparison of the two men will show this.) and he has established himself as a team leader - a role that Howard is just starting to come into. But for the Sportsman of the Year - I don't have a problem with Howard winning it - he had a tremendous season.
I definately like Howard being a guy who grew up in the St. Louis neiborhood. However, he is not ready to take over the Albert Pujols total domination factor. In my mind it was close, but you can't touch Albert's all around numbers. The fact is; Albert is the more complete and mature player. This should just give reason for Howard to come out next year and prove everyone wrong. But for now...Albert is the MVP!
I would argue that David Ortiz is as much of the Sportsman of the Year as Howard if not more. I appreciate the nomination. But watching Ortiz carry New England and his home country of the Dominican Republic on his back is truly something to marvel at.
If the Sportsman of the Year is to go to a living baseball player, you couldn't do better than Ryan Howard. But if it is going to go to a baseball player...or, really, to anyone....it should go to Buck O'Neill. No one else in any sport stands for the combination of athletic excellence, sportsmanship, social significance, and genuine goodness that dear Mr. O'Neill stands for. God bless you, Buck!
Pujols recent comments trashing Howard for receiving the MVP award because (paraphrasing) the 'MVP award should go to a player on a team that made the playoffs' is excatly why Howard deserves this award over Pujols. Sportsman of the year consists more of at bats, home runs and RBIs. Implicit in the award is a sense of "sportsmanship", a character trait which Pujols cannot claim to possess. Kudos to Howard for being a great ball player, and more importantly, a great guy that wins and loses with equal grace and humility.
It's sad that most people responding to these sportsman of the year blogs seem to have no idea what Sportsmanship means. Just quoting stats. People they give out plenty of awards for stats. This is about character. Look up the meaning of the word Sportsmanship. Pujols embodies bad sportsmanship when he whines and complains about losing the MVP award and devalues the competition after loses. I'm not a Jeter fan, but look at the class in which he handled his MVP loss this year, the complete opposite of Pujols.
Personally, I don't think either Howard or Pujols should win Sportsman of the Year.
Ryan Howard is growing into a heck of a player. He has raw power that has grown into something special. The debate on who should've won the MVP is ridiculous. Ryan Howard is uncomparable in stats and leadership. He put this team on his back and brought them close to the playoffs as one player could.
Anybody who thinks Albert Pujols is a class act should see what Albert Pujls said about Howard not deserving the MVP because his team did not make the playoffs. That is one classless act and should take him out of any sort of sportsman of the year picture. Anyway, look at the 2nd half #s, when Ryan Howard sinle handedly took his team on his back and carried the Phillies to a record that was 2 games better than the Cardinals and should defintely be a candidate for winning the sportsman of the year. How many players have won as mayn awards as he has this past year and how many people came that close to breaking the true biggest record in sports history???
For those of you who state that the MVP award is not related to a team making the post season, I beg to differ - the year McGwire hit 70 (juiced or not) he did not win the award due to the Cardinals NOT making the post season (or at least that was the published "excuse" at the time). Sosa and McGwire were credited with bringing back the game of baseball after the labor strike, but nothing for McGwire? Get real baseball fans - the MVP has traditionally been related to whether or not a team makes a post season - check the history! As far as sportsmanship, Pujols is a sportsman. For a reporter to shove a microphone into a players face after a close playoff loss and for him to state "Glavine didn't pitch all that great, we just didn't have what it takes" - that's one comment made 2 seconds after the finish of the game. Any of you ever make a comment to try and show your team that it wasn't that the other team was better, it's also that your team was a little off. Get real people! the Cardinals were not even supposed to beat the Padres - they did. they weren't supposed to beat the Mets - they did. they weren't supposed to beat the Tigers - they DID! Mostly due to the leadership of Pujols. PERIOD! He is a class act on and off the field. I am an alum of Lafayette HS and applaud Howard for his ability. The guy had ONE great year. I hope he has many more. Right now, Pujols is the pride of Missouri. Howard is making his move.
The Phillies did win two more regular season games than the Cardinals. That's true. BIG DEAL! Ever hear the saying "Missed it by that much...."
THE CARDINALS WON THE SERIES!!!!! Pujols leadership took them there! Howard can have the MVP - Pujols and the Cardinals will get the real award - the Rings of the champions! You know, the one award that EVERY TEAM and EVERY PLAYER hopes to get but only one team does? Put that in your pipe and smoke it!!!!!
The game needs more classy professionals like Ryan Howard. Honoring him for his accomplishments this season AND for the way he carried himself throughout makes the kind of statement we should all applaud. Regardless of the outcome, Howard is proof that young boys can still find a hero in this era of egocentric athletes. Pujols, take notes.