After he tormented Atlanta for years, the Braves signed Ryan Howard to a Minor League deal
Ryan Howard made a living feasting on the division-rival Braves while with the Phillies. The hulking slugger collected 52 home runs against them -- more than any other opponent. Perhaps that explains why the team signed the slugger to a Minor League deal on Thursday: Those dingers played on repeat in their nightmares.
The Braves have signed Ryan Howard to a Minor League deal. He'll go to extended Spring Training and then likely join Triple-A Gwinnett- Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) April 6, 2017
Though Howard will start the year at Triple-A, MLB.com's Mark Bowman speculates that he would be a good bench option for Atlanta, especially for games in AL parks when the Braves would have the DH. It also fits with the team's current strategy: As it waits for their prospect-rich Minor League system to bear the fruits of glory in their current rebuild, the team has acquired a number of fun-to-watch veterans like Bartolo Colon , R.A. Dickey and Brandon Phillips.
Plus, who doesn't want to see Howard blast a few more dingers? Like this monster shot from 2011:
Howard made a habit of crushing Atlanta's pitchers, and his best performance came on Sept. 3, 2006. Facing Tim Hudson, Howard went deep not once, not twice, but thrice in the Phillies' 8-7 victory. It was Howard's lone three-homer game in the Majors.
There was another important story from Howard's three-homer day, though. He didn't just create problems for Atlanta, but also for his (frankly terrifying) group of masked supporters: Howard's Homers.
While wearing a Homer Simpson mask, this young fan needed to change as Howard's first long ball pushed his homer total to the half-century mark for the season. The second dinger involved turning his shirt backward and writing No. 51. Number three? Well, he had nothing left. You can follow this home run guild's struggles in the video at the top of the post.