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PHILADELPHIA -- The sheer force of Ryan Howard's gargantuan home runs cannot accurately be measured in speed or total distance, only by the gasps from those watching such a spectacle.The Baseball Writers Association of America collectively gasped, then stood and applauded on Monday, selecting the Phillies first baseman as the National League's Most Valuable Player."I tried to treat this like any other day," said Howard, who turned 27 on Sunday. "I wasn't consumed by it, because it was out of my hands. But to finally get to this point ... to get the call ... it's definitely a relief. It is a good birthday present, and an honor to be named NL MVP."With 20 first-place votes and 12 second-place votes, Howard defeated last year's NL MVP, the Cardinals' Albert Pujols, by a total of 388 to 347. The Astros' Lance Berkman (230) and the Mets' Carlos Beltran (211) finished third and fourth, respectively.
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