The time has come, children. The time that we never ever thought would come. Ryan Howard’s long, expensive contract extension will run out in 15 home games. Aside from the $10 million buyout, his time with the Phillies is almost over.
It’s been a long goodbye. And I’m talking loooooooong. Honestly, we’ve been saying goodbye to Ryan Howard for about four years. Back in 2012 or 2013, it felt like the contract extension would last forever, and that’s mostly because Howard lost the ability to hit anything but a fastball down the middle. He struck out like a madman and hit so very, very many balls into the shift. He was no longer an asset, but a liability. Of course, it’s not like the Phillies’ slide into suckitude was his fault. Their downslopes just happened to coincide.
Weirdly, all that grumbling feels like forever ago. Despite his continuing ability slide, the badness of the Phillies over the past few years has allowed us at The Good Phight to appreciate what he brought to the team in his best days, and what he still continues to bring. Once we all accepted what Ryan Howard had become, it was a weight off our collective shoulders.
Because there’s a defined end point to Howard’s time with the Phillies, that allows us to give him the sendoff he deserves. And he deserves a doozy. Between 2005 and 2011, Howard was an absolute monster, and he gave fans so many incredible moments that we’ll remember forever. And to help you remember them, we’re doing a countdown of the 15 most memorable Ryan Howard moments, one for each of his remaining home games.
Just like it was weird when Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley weren’t on the Phillies anymore, it’ll be weird when Ryan Howard isn’t there. But time and baseball march on, and it’s time for a new generation of Phillies to make their own mark. We can be sure of one thing, though: there will never be another Ryan Howard.
If you have any Ryan Howard memories you’d like to share, please please please put fingers to keyboard and write a fanpost. We’ll be featuring Howard fanposts on the front page throughout the month. It’s not often that we get a chance to say goodbye to a franchise icon, and Howard definitely deserves a proper sendoff from the whole community.