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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Roy Halladay Finally Gets a Shot at Pitching in October

There has never been a pitcher in Major League Baseball history that deserves a shot at taking the mound in the postseason more than Roy Hallday.  For years, Halladay was one of the best arms in the American League.  As luck would have it, he was stuck pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Jays have not been to the playoffs since 1993.  The last time they were there, they went on to win a title by defeating — get this — the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series.  For almost 20 years, Toronto has been stuck behind the Red Sox, Yankees, and more recently the Rays.  They’re a franchise that just hasn’t managed to get back on track since winning back-to-back titles in the early 90s.

Yet, Halladay never complained.  Anyone who knows anything about baseball saw a perennial Cy Young contender wasting away in a city where baseball fans have become an endangered species.  All Toronto’s ace did during his 12-year stay was take the mound and pitch.  More often than not, he did his job better than any other starter in the AL during that tenure.

When the Phillies acquired the Doc last season, it was no secret that the pairing would be a match made in heaven.  Halladay had dominated a league that doesn’t allow pitchers to hit, so what would he do throwing against significantly weaker NL lineups?  After pitching his first full season in the NL, the right-hander has answered that question by putting together his most dominant season ever as a full-time starting pitcher.  An ERA of 2.44 — the second best of his career — and a career high strikeout total of 219 have helped the Phillies clinch their fourth consecutive NL East title.

Roy Halladay was built to pitch in the postseason.  He’s just never been given the opportunity to do so.  The main reason we wondered if he could win 25 games as an NL starter is his desire to finish what he started.  Any manager who walks to the mound to take the ball from Doc knows he’d better bring a pair of pliers to pry it from his fingers.  Any skipper would tell you that’s quite alright in their book. An argument with a pitcher who is reluctant to leave a game is one every manager wishes they could have.

Think back to the first time your favorite team made it to the postseason during your time as a die-hard.  If that’s never happened, think about the biggest win your favorite franchise has ever enjoyed.  Remember the adrenaline rush you felt?  Multiply that by about 50 and you might begin to comprehend what Halladay is feeling after waiting almost 13 years for the opportunity he’s finally facing.

But you won’t even know it.  Charlie Manuel will hand his seemingly calm, collected ace the ball before Game 1 of the NL Division Series and hope for the chance to keep handing it to him throughout the postseason.  If Halladay succeeds, there will never have been a pitcher who is more deserving of the praise he’s certain to receive.  If he fails, there will never have been a pitcher who left more on the field in October.



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