Blockbuster Video started with one store. In1985 Blockbuster’s one store was in Dallas, Texas. By 2000, the franchise had over 9,000 stores. In 2022 there was one store left. This is a common story of life. After a period of time businesses fail, singers stop making hits, an actor stops making good movies, and an athlete stops performing at top levels.
The story gets more painful when people buy Blockbuster stock just before it crashes. In sports this occurs when a team invests large money in a player just as his skills are crashing. This happens frequently. This is such a story about Ryan Howard.
Ryan Howard played all 13 years of his career with the Philadelphia Phillies. He became the fastest player in baseball history to drive in 1000 runs, hit 100 home runs and 200 home runs. In 2005 he was voted Rookie of the Year. He was a three time All Star and MVP of the 2009 NL Championship Series. During those first six seasons he had successive years with 58, 47, 48 and 45 home runs. He had five successive seasons with over 100 RBIs including 149 in 2006. His offense helped lead the Phillies to play in two successive World Series, winning one of them. Ryan Howard was the “toast of the town”.
Looking at his performance, there was a dramatic drop-off starting after the eighth season. A stunning example is obvious comparing the eighth and ninth season.
2011 – 33 home runs and 116 runs batted in
2012 – 14 home runs and 56 runs batted in
The problem for the Phillies is that in 2012 they had extended his contract adding 6 years for $135 million. The large contract started in 2012 which was Howard’s worst season of his life to date.
At the end of 2011, Howard tore his Achilles tendon. His terrible statistics of 2012 was the result of the injury so he could only play in 71 games.
In 2013, he tore his meniscus which required surgery restricting him to only 80 games with 11 home runs. His stock was starting to crash.
In the next three seasons, Howard was able to play most of the year but he was not effective. His averages were .223, .229 and .196. He did manage to hit over 20 home runs each year but never drove in 100 runs again. The final year of his contract was a team option which the Phillies declined. Howard became a free agent. He signed a minor league contract with the Braves and then the Rockies but never played a major League game again.
From the moment the large six year contract kicked in, Howard stopped producing. Injuries were a big part of the drop off. However, the Phillies 135 million dollar contract yielded a dissatisfied fanbase and a great star remembered as a player who did not perform. It was another example of buying Blockbuster at the wrong time.