Charles Barkley and Joe Maddon understand Ryan Howard's frustration with Philly fans

Charles Barkley and Joe Maddon understand Ryan Howard's frustration with Philly fans

PHILADELPHIA — What would Charles Barkley do? There’s an easy answer to that hypothetical question, how Sir Charles would have responded if a fan threw a beer bottle at him, the way someone targeted fading Philadelphia Phillies slugger Ryan Howard.

“I’d have kicked his ass, personally,” Barkley told reporters before the Cubs beat up the Phillies on Monday night at Citizens Bank Park. The Cubs had a six-run lead in the ninth inning before the Phillies rallied late, with Howard pinch-hitting against closer Hector Rondon and making the last out in a 6-4 game that didn’t feel that close.

Barkley — who once got arrested for throwing a guy through a bar window during his Hall of Fame career and has become a must-watch personality on TNT’s NBA coverage — knows the pressure of playing in this city after eight seasons with the 76ers. Philadelphia police are searching for the man who tossed the beer bottle after Howard made the final out in Saturday’s loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.

“Very disappointed,” Barkley said. “I wish that — to be honest — Ryan could get his hands on him and beat the hell out of him. That would be the appropriate response.

“But that’s the one thing I could tell you about Philadelphia, man. It’s a great city, great fans, very passionate. But there’s always going to be a couple bad apples. The majority of the fans here appreciate what Ryan has brought to the table.

“Just giving (that fan) a little warning or a ticket really doesn’t do that situation justice.

“That’s not punishment. I’ve always believed: Get him in the batting cage for 15 minutes, and whatever happens, happens.”

Barkley actually got in the cage and took some swings against Cubs bullpen coach Lester Strode during batting practice. Barkley also held court in manager Joe Maddon’s office inside the visiting clubhouse, mingling with Cubs players and staffers before the game.

The Phillies are a franchise in transition, with ex-Cubs executive Andy MacPhail installed as president, a multibillion-dollar TV deal with Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia in place and the No. 1 overall pick and more than $13 million to spend in this week’s amateur draft.

This is a surprising 28-30 team fighting to defy the odds and stay in contention, guided by manager Pete Mackanin, the Brother Rice High School graduate who interviewed for the Cubs job that went to Dale Sveum, playing across the street from where the 76ers made tanking their organizational blueprint.

But Howard — a homegrown Rookie of the Year/MVP winner who helped the Phillies beat Maddon’s Tampa Bay Rays in the 2008 World Series — now symbolizes that window slamming shut. Howard is hitting .150 with 53 strikeouts through 162 plate appearances in the final guaranteed season of a five-year, $125 million extension that became an albatross.

“The guy’s been a great, great player, brought this city a world championship, made them relevant for X-amount of years,” Barkley said. “And regardless of whatever happens, he deserves to be treated with respect and dignity.”

Maddon grew up about two hours northwest of Philadelphia in Hazleton, a blue-collar city in Pennsylvania’s faded coal-mining region, and heard about the Howard incident.

“It just speaks to: What are you thinking?” Maddon said. “I went through a bad moment here in the World Series in 2008 with the Rays, so I know how the people can be down here.

“I’m from the state. I hung out with these guys. So I know when you get over-served at a baseball game, you have a tendency — especially around here — to act out.”

With a camera in his face and surrounded by microphones, Maddon wouldn’t get into what he heard in South Philly during the 2008 World Series.

“I can’t repeat it,” Maddon said. “Honestly, I can’t repeat (what was said) to my granddaughter in a bathroom. It was really bad ... really, really bad.”

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 12th + 13th homers in 1998


Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 12th + 13th homers in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

An off-day did nothing to slow down the 1998 National League MVP as Sosa collected his second straight 2-homer game May 27 of that season.

He went deep in the eighth and ninth innings of a Cubs' 10-5 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies at Wrigley Field, driving in 3 runs. 

The first homer - off Darrin Winston - was an absolute blast, traveling an estimated 460 feet. The second shot was tame in comparison with only 400 feet as a recorded distance.

In a matter of two games, Sosa raised his season OPS from .930 to .988 and his slugging percentage from .521 to .577 thanks to a pair of 2-homer contests.

Fun fact: Doug Glanville - former Cubs outfielder and current NBC Sports Chicago analyst - was the Phillies leadoff hitter that day in 1998, collecting three hits and scoring a pair of runs.

Yu Darvish back on the DL for Cubs with triceps tendinitis


Yu Darvish back on the DL for Cubs with triceps tendinitis

Yu Darvish now has more trips to the disabled list in a Cubs uniform than wins.

The Cubs place their 31-year-old right-handed pitcher on the DL Saturday evening with right triceps tendinitis. The move is retroactive to May 23, so he may only have to miss one turn through the rotation.

In a corresponding move, Randy Rosario was recalled from Triple-A Iowa to provide Joe Maddon with another arm in the bullpen. Tyler Chatwood will start Sunday in Darvish's place.

Thanks to two off-days on the schedule last week, the Cubs should be fine with their rotation for a little while. Jon Lester could go on regular rest Monday, but the Cubs would need to make a decision for Tuesday given Kyle Hendricks just threw Friday afternoon.

That decision could mean Mike Montgomery moving from the bullpen to the rotation for a spot start, or it could be the promotion of top prospect Adbert Alzolay from Triple-A Iowa.

Either way, this is more bad news for Darvish, who has had a rough go of it since he signed a six-year, $126 million deal with the Cubs in February.

Between issues with the weather, the concern of arm cramps in his debut in Miami, leg cramps in Atlanta, a trip to the disabled list for the flu, trouble making it out of the fifth inning and now triceps tendinitis, it's been a forgettable two months for Darvish.

He is 1-3 with a 4.95 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and 49 strikeouts in 40 innings with the Cubs.

Over the course of 139 career starts, Darvish is 57-45 with a 3.49 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and has averaged 11 strikeouts per nine innings.