October 07, 2010
'Duk note: BLS pal Navin Vaswani is the proprietor of Sports And The City and a huge Toronto Blue Jays fan. We asked him what it was like to watch Roy Halladay(notes) achieve playoff greatness in another uniform. Here's how he responded:
Roy Halladay's first postseason start was 12 years, 2,297.1 innings and 346 games in the making.
It was well worth the wait.
I'm going to be honest with you: As soon as Shane Victorino(notes) slid safely into home plate in the bottom of the first inning on Wednesday, giving Halladay and the Philadelphia Phillies a 1-0 lead, a little voice in my head sprang to life:
"No-hitter," it said.
Yes, in the first inning. Know why? Because I'm from Toronto. My name's Navin, I'm a Blue Jays fan, and I've watched Roy Halladay pitch many more times than you have. And along with my Canadian brethren north of the 49th, we're not surprised by what transpired at Citizens Bank Ballpark.
Because, much like Doc's perfect game in the regular season, we knew that history was coming. When you've watched him as often as we have, you come to expect greatness. And perfection — or as close as you can come to it.
We know that Harry Leroy Halladay III has always risen to the occasion. In his second start as a professional, way back in 1998, Doc was one out away from a no-hitter at the SkyDome before Bobby Higginson went and ruined the party. He followed it up with more than a decade of battling and beating the beasts of the American League East. He has always known how to make an entrance.
I'd be lying if I said Jays fans aren't conflicted. To root, or not to root, for Doc. Over the past 10 days, Stoeten at Drunk Jays Fans has let it be known that he finds it "kinda pathetic" for Jays fans to be rooting for another team's success no matter who's pitching.
The Tao of Stieb, the most thought-provoking in the powerhouse that is the Blue Jays blogosphere, wrote: "So, yeah. Knock 'em dead Doc. Show the world how great you are. And go [expletive] yourself while you're at it."
But while I respect those two writers greatly, I do not share their sentiments. Not since 2006, when Carlos Delgado(notes) was a member of the New York Mets, have I had such a vested interest in Major League Baseball's playoffs. I'm rooting for Halladay. I'm rooting for the Phillies. Doc left Toronto to chase a ring, and I want him to get it.
Was it bittersweet, watching Halladay throw a no-hitter, and forever tying his name to Don Larsen's while wearing a red uniform instead of a Blue Jays jersey? Of course it is.
Would I trade Halladay's gem for one Blue Jays postseason game? Say, Ricky Romero(notes) and Toronto, instead of David Price(notes) and Tampa Bay, facing Cliff Lee(notes) and the Texas Rangers? Without a doubt.
But I don't have that option right now. Because Toronto is without postseason baseball for the 17th straight season, Doctober is as good as it gets.
Look, I'm tired of the "why should I cheer for my ex-girlfriend?" analogy. We're not talking relationships, here. We're talking baseball. The window closed on Halladay's time in Toronto, and, before it did for good, the Blue Jays made the right decision in sending their ace to Philadelphia, receiving prospects in return.
What's there to be bitter about? Doc gave us his formative years. And a rebuilding Blue Jays franchise won 85 games in 2010, after being predicted to finish below the Baltimore OrioLOLes. A young, cost-effective, and efficient starting rotation let it be known that the clubhouse was a more enjoyable and relaxed place to be, minus Halladay. Doc didn't ask to be traded, like Scott Rolen(notes). He didn't opt-out of his contract, like A.J. Burnett(notes). With the Blue Jays headed in the right direction, but once again on the outside looking in at the postseason, what the hell is wrong with celebrating Doctober?
I'm also sick of the "We've known Doc was this good for the past five years!" complaints. The bitterness towards the American media, and casual baseball fans, who are only now learning about the greatness that is Roy Halladay, is absurd. Look, the real baseball fans know about Doc. The real baseball fans have always known about Doc. The same way I know, living in Toronto, thousands of miles east of Seattle, that Felix Hernandez(notes) deserves the 2010 Cy Young Award.
I dealt with the woe is me emotions, and the bitterness, in the aftermath of Halladay's perfect game, back in May. I was disappointed, and hurt. Yeah, it should have happened in a Toronto Blue Jays uniform. But it didn't. And, more than than anything, I'm glad it happened, period. I've overcome. Doc's one of baseball's "good guys." He deserves every ounce of success he's earned. He's the sole reason I went to the Rogers Centre in 2009.
What we in Toronto always wanted, always desired, was the opportunity to watch Halladay pitch in the postseason. Well, it's finally happened. Doc just happens to be wearing a Phillies uniform while doing it. Unfortunate? Sure, yeah, it is. But Halladay in the playoffs as a Phillie is better than Halladay not in the playoffs at all.
And in the end, it isn't about the Blue Jays, or the Phillies, or any team for that matter. It's about a man born to pitch in October, finally getting his chance to do just that.
And the best part?
Doctober's only begun.
"I just wanted to pitch in the postseason. ... To go out and have a game like that, it's a dream come true." — Roy Halladay