Sometimes, baseball can be a cruel game.
There are also times when baseball, like life, can seem unfair.
But worst of all, baseball can be a sad game.
And I can think of nothing sadder than Roy Halladay leaving the game the other night and ending his season after only 16 pitches (his shortest outing ever.) He faced just three batters and walked two. Only five of his 16 pitches were for strikes. And for me, that’s as heartbreaking as it gets.
But the man who left the mound that night, head down, shoulders slumped, is not the man who I will choose to remember, if that indeed is to be the last time we see Roy Halladay pitch as a Phillie, or perhaps pitch at all.
I will choose to remember a different Roy Halladay. The man who earned the nickname the “Doc” because of his surgical precision on the mound, the man who dominated the game he played for most of his long and brilliant career.
I’ll remember the Roy Halladay who pitched his first game for the Phillies on Opening Day 2010. He pitched seven innings on that day, had nine strikeouts and gave up only one run earning his first win as a Phillie.
As fans, we knew we were watching something special but we had no idea how special it would be.
My Roy Halladay is the man who went on to win 21 games that year and become the Phillies first 20-game winner since Steve Carlton in 1982. And the first right-handed Phillies pitcher to win 20 since Robin Roberts did it in 1955.
But that wasn’t all the “Doc” had in store for us that year.
All baseball fans will remember May 29th when Roy Halladay, who we already thought was perfect, made it official. He pitched a perfect game against the then Florida Marlins retiring all 27 batters he faced, 11 with strikeouts.
And I’ll also remember Roy Halladay, the man, who gave Swiss-made watches to everyone in the clubhouse after that game with the inscription: “We did it together. Thanks, Roy Halladay.”
Roy Halladay would go on to finish that 2010 season with a record of 21-10 and a 2.44 ERA. He had a career high 219 strikeouts and only 30 walks. He led the National League in wins, innings pitched and complete games with nine, including four shutouts. And he would win the Cy Young Award that year becoming only the fifth pitcher to win that prestigious award in both leagues.
But what will make Roy Halladay truly impossible to forget, is what he did on October 6th, in his first ever start in the postseason, the start he had waited for his entire career. On that night Roy made up for all those years of frustration by doing something only one other pitcher in the history of baseball had done before him.
Ray Halladay pitched a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds in the first game of the National League Division Series.
Halladay would continue his dominance in his second year with the Phillies. He finished the 2011 season at 19-6 with a 2.35 ERA and was named the starting pitcher for the All-Star Game that year. He finished second in the Cy Young balloting and was named the Sportsperson of the Year by the Philadelphia Daily News for the second year in a row.
I could go on and on listing Roy Halladay’s countless accomplishments and awards. And for fans of the game, like me, those feats will always way overshadow the disappointments of the past several years.
I will always remember the Roy Halladay we called “the Doc,” his intense, commanding presence on the mound, his team first attitude, his respect for the game he loves and his appreciation of his teammates and the fans.
But as I sit here writing and reflecting on this beautiful Fall morning, my greatest hope is that Roy Halladay himself will come to appreciate and remember that great man as well.