Though details have remained extremely vague, the Philadelphia Phillies do seem likely to honor first baseman Ryan Howard in some way in Sunday afternoon's game against the New York Mets. Though the game is already special in some senses because it is scheduled to be "Fan Appreciation Day," it will likely turn into an appreciation day of sorts for Howard, as Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe notes:
The Phillies tried endlessly to move him, but it never worked out. The team plans to honor him next Sunday in what should be an awkward moment in some respects. Howard is basically being pushed out, and there’s no guarantee his career will resume elsewhere.
Sunday is the final game of the season for the non-playoff bound Phillies, therefore making it a near lock to be Howard's final home game with the team.
Despite the lack of success that Howard has had for the better part of the last five years, Howard's ceremony, if that's what it turns out to be, shouldn't be awkward at all. Most fans, especially since Howard's contract is about to expire, have come to terms with the fact that while Howard has struggled since tearing his Achilles in the 2011 NLDS, his run from 2005 to 2011 was one of the more dominant power streaks in the history of the league and helped the Phillies to a golden era of baseball. A video, standing ovation and Howard possibly even speaking to the fans would seem to be appropriate.
Howard, 36, made his Major League debut for the Phillies in 2004, but really began to make his mark in 2005, when in 88 games playing for the injured Jim Thome, Howard batted .288 and hit 22 home runs en route to winning the National League Rookie of the Year. He followed that up in 2006 by hitting a franchise-record 58 home runs, making his first All-Star team and winning the National League MVP. Between 2007 and 2011 -- when the Phillies won five division titles, two pennants and a World Series -- Howard hit 204 home runs and drove in 647 runs.
The Phillies do own a club option for $23 million for Howard in 2017, but they will decline it. While this won't be official until after the season, it's been all but official for the entire year that the team plans to exercise his $10 million buyout, which will make him a free-agent for the first time in his career.