Last weekend’s news reports on the cortisone shots and Howard’s physical condition are disquieting, even ominous. What do the Phillies have to hide? I have great respect for general manager Ruben Amaro and for what he’s done for the team, but his handling of this situation has been “bush.” I learned a long time ago, when I developed health problems, to follow a rule: “Say it all, say it now, say it yourself.” A baseball star is a different kind of a public figure than a senator, but the public has a right to know in both cases — judged by the public’s interest, more so for an MVP.
Amaro was quoted as saying: “I think that there is an insinuation that the organization did not have the best interests of the player at hand. That’s not true at all. Obviously, we have a tremendous investment in Ryan.”
When talking about the “best interests of the player,” and immediately commenting on the Phillies’ “tremendous investment in Ryan,” it sounds as if the team may be more concerned about its investment than its player.
Keeping Inquirer reporter Bob Brookover under surveillance with two-way radios and kicking (escorting) him out of the Clearwater baseball park when he tried to watch Howard put the story on Sunday’s front page. When Amaro called an “in-game news conference” during Sunday’s Red Sox game to try to explain away the issue, it added fuel to the fire. A few short, direct answers would have turned this big story into a footnote.
Athletes around the world might benefit from Howard’s experience. Similar cortisone shots are considered by players in many sports at all levels: pro, college, and even high school. Learning from Howard may save others from a debilitating injury.
Learning from Amaro’s media miscues may save others from similar public relations debacles.
Arlen Specter served in the U.S. Senate, 1981-2011, now practices law in Philadelphia, and is an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.