Jodi Hebert's Blog

I could rant about the Eagles and Donovan McNabb going down for the year.

I could whine incessantly about the bad luck. And wonder aloud what I and the rest of Philly sports fans have done to deserve such torture.

I could pour my tears on to the page and let them flow to share my depression.

But for today, I am putting aside my typical Philly pessimism. I know, it's shocking.

Why you ask?

It's very simple.

Ryan Howard.

Today, I congratulate Ryan Howard.

Not just for winning the much-deserved MVP award. That is an exceptional honor and his performance on the field -- 58 homers, Home Run Derby champ, carrying the Phils almost solely on his own to the brink of the playoffs -- made him a clear choice for the award.

Not just because he turned 27 yesterday. (Happy Birthday, Ryan.)

But because Ryan Howard did the almost unthinkable, unbelievable today.

He made a Philly sports fan proud. And he made a Philly sports fan, in the midst of a suffocating Eagles depression, smile.

For the few minutes today that he spoke at the press conference to ring him in as MVP, I found myself swept up the unfettered happiness. It was as if all that has gone wrong for the Phillies and the Eagles and all that Philly sports fans have suffered through disappeared into Ryan Howard's dimples as he flashed his billion-dollar grin.

It was refreshing. I found myself awestruck at his genuine excitement at being bestowed with such an honor. With his parents and brother at his side, Ryan Howard displayed the love of the sport he plays and showed that he remembered how incredible it is that he has grown up to play baseball for a living. That he realized, at least for today, that he is living his dream was evident in the sparkle in his eye as he spoke.

He hasn't yet been damaged by ego or money. He hasn't yet grown cynical.

And when Ryan Howard's parents and brother were called to stand-up and be recognized for raising this happy kid in a slugger's body, he leaned over and pointed out his brother, noting that he was indeed the smallest in his family. And so, in one jest -- and without bitterness or cynicism -- he dismissed any thoughts that his performance was "enhanced" by some illegal substance.

For one day, Ryan Howard reminded us how grand sports are supposed to be.

So, congratulations Ryan.

You've made us proud.

Not only for your impressive on-field performance that made you more than worthy of the MVP title.

But for remembering to relish it.

Enjoy the honor, you've earned it in so many ways.




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