ryan howard

Howard, Rollins, Utley, Manuel connected again in fun way

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TBS

Howard, Rollins, Utley, Manuel connected again in fun way

This was pretty darn cool.

The core members from the greatest run in Phillies franchise history were all connected in a way on Wednesday night.

Jimmy Rollins, who has been performing in-studio analysis for TBS during the MLB postseason, was joined by special guest Ryan Howard.

The ballgame they watched and analyzed? Game 4 of the Dodgers-Cubs NLCS, featuring old friend and teammate Chase Utley.

And then beloved former manager Charlie Manuel joined the fun. Let's just say he was a fan of the TBS crew.

Next season marks the 10-year anniversary of the 2008 world champion club.

Let's hope all four can reunite at Citizens Bank Park for the festivities.

That'll be special.

Ryan Howard hits long walk-off homer for Triple A Albuquerque

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Albuquerque Isotopes

Ryan Howard hits long walk-off homer for Triple A Albuquerque

The "Big Piece" still has a thing for those dramatic blasts.

Let's just drop a few here that quickly come to mind.

In total with the Phillies, Howard slugged 382 regular-season homers and added eight memorable ones in the postseason from 2007 to 2011, a stretch in which the club won five straight NL East crowns, two NL pennants and a World Series title.

Howard is far from those days. At 37 years old, he's now playing Triple A ball for the Albuquerque Isotopes, an affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. Entering Wednesday, he was hitting .200 with two homers, 21 strikeouts and two walks over 21 Triple A games between Albuquerque and Gwinnett (the Braves' affiliate).

But when Howard connects — even at this stage of his career — the ball can go a long way. He showed it Wednesday with a deep walk-off homer to send Albuquerque to a 6-4 win over Reno in eight innings to take Game 1 of a doubleheader.

That signature Howard home run swing sure brings back memories.

Watch: Ryan Howard clubs double with old-school swing for Rockies' Triple A affiliate

Watch: Ryan Howard clubs double with old-school swing for Rockies' Triple A affiliate

Phillies fans have seen this swing plenty over the years.

And now Albuquerque Isotopes followers have seen it too.

Ryan Howard on Sunday night made his Isotopes debut one day after signing a minor-league contract with the Rockies and showcased a sweet old-school swing we've seen so many times before in the third inning.

Howard smoked a fastball to right-center field for a two-out double during Albuquerque's 22-1 win over the Fresno Grizzlies. Howard then scored on Cristhian Adames' two-run blast.

Outside of the double, Howard's debut with the Isotopes didn't go so well. The former NL MVP went 1 for 6 with two strikeouts in his first game with Albuquerque.

But his third-inning double was a thing of beauty, a throwback to when Howard was one of the most feared sluggers in baseball.

This isn't Howard's first stint in the minor leagues this season. Howard, 37, inked a minor-league deal with the Braves in April but Atlanta released him on May 6.

In 38 at-bats for Gwinnett, the Braves' Triple A affiliate, Howard hit just .184 with one home run and 11 strikeouts. Adding in the six ABs from Sunday, he's now hitting .182 at Triple A.

The Phillies moved on from Howard after last season, but the first baseman will forever be remembered as one of the best power hitters in team history despite never regaining his form after tearing his Achilles in the 2011 NLDS.

Howard is still looking to play in the majors, and he could have a shot with the Rockies, who currently hold a 4.5 game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals for the NL's second wild-card spot.

With rosters expanding in September, there's a possibility Howard could be added to the Rockies' bench.

It sure would be nice to see Howard in a playoff race again, no matter how small the role.