Since just before the All-Star break, when the cat was let out of he bag that Roy Halladay was going to be traded I figured sooner or later I'd be writing a post saying good bye to Doc. For the last couple of days we've been focusing on what we are getting back for Roy, which is a lot more fun than thinking about him going away. But, sooner or later we are going to have to say bye. Just recently I wrote a long piece about Halladay's career with the Jays, in the Top 50 Jays series, so we don't have to cover that ground again.
When I was a kid and first got interested in baseball, my favorite team was the Montreal Expos and my favorite player was Gary Carter. Carter, for a number of seasons was the best catcher in baseball. One of the first things I remember buying for myself when I had a little money was a Expos jersey with the number 8 on it, Carter's number.
My Expos were a pretty good team back then but generally came up just short of making the post season. The one year they did make it was 1981, the strike season. We lost out to the Dodger's on a Rick Monday home run. That is the closest they ever came to the World Series. As is often the case, the team blamed their best player for not winning instead of looking a the black hole that was our middle infield.
The came December 10, 1984, Carter was traded to the Mets for, well, for a bunch of guys whose names I don't remember. Now back then this was an unusual type of trade. Star players didn't make so much money that teams couldn't afford them so players were traded more on playing value. Good players stayed with their teams, often for their whole career.
Anyway skip ahead a bunch of years (far more years than I care to think about) and I have a new favorite team and new favorite player. A couple of years ago I got a new team jersey with his name and number. Again he's best player in baseball at his position.
If baseball teaches us fans anything, it teaches us how to deal with disappointment and to enjoy the little things. When you don't have a winning team, it great to have things to point to that you enjoy. Us Jay fans have been lucky enough to get to watch Doc. But it also teaches us that all things come to an end.
What people forget is that Doc wasn't always an ace. He came up at the end of the 1998 season, made two starts, one that was a one hitter, the hit coming with 2 out in the ninth. The next year he spent the season with us bouncing back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen. Then in 2000 he was terrible. Terrible doesn't even describe it, he had a 10.67. ERA. Can you imagine a young pitcher on the Jays now having an ERA like that now. Scott Richmond has a couple of poor months and folks write him off. Brandon League has a handful of bad innings and people call for his head. How many times have we read that Brett Cecil will never be more than a number 3 pitcher at best.
Maybe that's one of the reasons why I like Halladay so much. It didn't just come easy for him. He had to re-work his whole delivery. He works at his craft. Very hard. The past couple of seasons he reinvented himself again, changing from having a low strikeout rate (5.6 per 9 in 2007) to becoming a guy that got a good number of strikeouts (7.8 per 9 in 2009).
As he leaves the Jays he is 2nd in Jay history in Wins (148), 3rd in Games Started (287), 3rd in Innnings (2047.2), 3rd in Complete Games (49) and 2nd in Strikeouts (1495).
I always kind of figured that one day we'd see that no-hitter from Doc. And that we'd get another Cy Young award. The great thing about watching him was that you had the chance to see something special every time out. We'll miss that.
Favorite Doc moments? Maybe beating A.J. Burnett last season. You could pick any of the 18 times he beat the Yankees, he's 18-6 career against them, the team he's beat the second most behind the Orioles (20-4). Or seeing tape of him taking to the young kids that received the pitching lesson. Or seeing him talk to one of the younger starters on the bench.
I guess my favorite moments were the rare moments he would smile. Generally at the end of a game. He is always so focused and serious on the mound, the odd moments he looked like he was enjoying himself stand out.
He is likely the guy I have written about the most over the past year and a half (well him or Kevin Millar). It will be strange not talking about him any more.
Good luck, Roy. It has been a pleasure being able to watch you.
Anyway, share your favorite memories in the comments area.