They call them the G-Braves. No one knows why. Perhaps it is because of the "G force" with which baseballs are expected to leave the field when a slugger like Ryan Howard gets a hold of one. It's most likely that the "G" stands for "Good lord, somebody get these Braves out of here, they are awful."
Rumor has it that it indeed is short for "Gwinnett," the town in Georgia from which the Braves' Triple A team hails. They signed Howard prior to this season, presumably as a joke after he finally separated from the Phillies after 2016 and couldn't get a contract during spring training.
It was odd, unwelcome news received by fans as ominous, single-key piano music played in the background. Images of our hero wearing a Braves uniform surfaced, upsetting the masses even further. Then there were mutterings that he'd actually be promoted to Atlanta and serve as some sort of National League DH or hitting coach if the Braves ever wanted some of their players to swing and miss at breaking pitches on purpose. Things got weird.
It was very typical of a player looking for a late career renaissance after departing from the only team he'd ever known: The minor league deal. The weirdness of the new uniform. Claims that he just wanted to "make an impact." The tooth-grinding while his first month's worth of stats were generated (.184/.238/.263 in 11 G, sorry for making you look at that).
We've had our own problems in Philadelphia lately. I don't know if you're aware of this, but the Phillies have been less than dynamic, especially in their last ten games. The malaise that has set in has provided a distraction to any concern we would have about a 37-year-old player on a Triple A team in another organization's farm system. But it turns out that these G-Braves - I guess it could stand for Georgia, too, there's literally no way to tell - didn't plan on keeping Howard around for the long term. The former Phillies slugger was released by the team, shattering his dreams of getting an at-bat or two when the Braves show up in some AL West stadiums this season.
Which means that Ryan Howard, who we remember for more than anything else, crunching baseballs long distances, sometimes three or four at a time, may have hit his last home run as a ball player. That home run is viewable above. It's the only dinger of his Gwinnett Braves career. And, based on what his future decisions may be, it could be his farewell tater to the sport he loves.
He's got a tasty one-day contract waiting for him in Philadelphia. As long as someone informs Matt Klentak that it should be offered to him. Klentak may not have been born when Ryan Howard was with the Phillies and may need to be clued in as to the city and the slugger storied pasts, fused together with baseball seams and familial resentment. As we await the coming of the future and the inevitable farewell salutes to Howard that will appear on this page in the near or more distant future, take a small chunk of your day to absorb a mere twelve-minute slice of Howard doing what Howard does best.
In the end, it may turn out that those "G-Braves" could indeed mean "Good bye, Ryan Howard." Should that be the case, we can all agree on one thing for certain: the Braves are terrible.