Ryan Howard’s bat has died this year, but Jim Harris is convinced that it can be cloned and brought back to life.

Ryan Howard’s bat has died this year, but Jim Harris is convinced that it can be cloned and brought back to life.

by Jim Harris

Watching the currently on-life-support Philadelphia Phillies sleepwalk their way through this very depressing season reminds me of the 1993 film, “Jurassic Park,” which popularized the idea of cloning dinosaurs from fossils. While the technology necessary to achieve such a thing is a bit beyond what exists today, there have been a few reported successes in cloning prehistoric insects, and there’s talk of similarly bringing back species like the passenger pigeon and the wooly mammoth from the abyss of extinction.

Maybe I’m just clutching at pearls here, but I like to believe that someday researchers will even be able to treat the “C-Nile Virus,” which is what makes old people like me hit “Send” instead of “Delete” on the computer. And even more miraculously, maybe the Phillies can even be brought back to life.

(By the way, I am not really an investigative reporter, but I can report the following “scoop.” As all local baseball buffs know, fewer and fewer fans are going to Phillies games this season. Well, I’ve discovered from my semi-reliable sources that most of those fans not going to the games are going to “snuggle parties” instead, where strangers cuddle with each other. Or as it’s known in Philly, the Broad Street Subway!)

Now, while I find these scientific developments interesting in the abstract, none of it would likely have warranted a second thought had I not recently read about another momentous “comeback,” the return of basketball superstar LeBron James to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

When James left the Cavaliers for Miami in 2010 amid much pointless hoopla, Cleveland fans denounced his decision to leave as “selfish,” “heartless,” “callous” and “a cowardly betrayal.” They cried real tears and burned jerseys in the street. Likewise, when LeBron announced his return to the Cavaliers this year, Cleveland fans reacted with unprecedented glee. Spontaneous celebrations erupted all over town. The blind saw; the lame walked. People named their newborns after him. Wives started dressing up in naughty nurse fantasy outfits for their husbands, even pretending that they had good health care coverage.

So, thinking like a good businessperson, I said to myself, “That kind of unconditional forgiveness and devoted adoration is a powerful force. How can it be harnessed for commercial gain?” What if we could offer fans not just great new players but their choice from among the greatest players of all time? The mind boggles.

Which brings us back to Jurassic Park. Since regeneration is no longer just a fairy tale, then with the right amount of money and resources, scientists could clone both living and dead superstar athletes, so Phillies fans might fill up the stadium again to watch greats like Steve Carlton, Mike Schmidt and Tug McGraw in their prime.

Cloning may spawn whole new categories of crime, too, like celebrity grave robbing or murdering current players for their DNA, but the bottom line is that in the long run, it will be good for sports, for the fans and for the economy in general. And that is what really counts.

There could be whole teams or leagues made up of the deceased. The Cleveland Cadaverliers, The Boston Dead Sox. Not to mention Ryan Howard’s bat and Jonathan Papelbon’s personality. Stay tuned.

Now, there will surely be those tentative types who will say that we should not go down this road, but to them I would say that even if we don’t do it, China most certainly will. In fact, I think they’re doing it already. I mean, how else could they have over 1.3 billion people when they’re only allowed one child per couple? The math does not add up, people.

So the answer is clear. We must begin cloning our living and dead sports legends right away so that they can be ready to compete for America in the 2020 Olympics. That is, unless you want China to win all the gold medals.

Ed note: Some readers have wondered what happened to Jim Harris’ satirical column in recent weeks since it has been missing from these pages. The answer is: he writes so slowly that he could write in his own blood without hurting himself.