If you know about baseball, then you've probably heard ad nauseum for the last month the trade talk around Roy Halladay. I've gone on in great detail on this blog about my admiration for Doc. Last Friday night, I made the trip to the Dome and bought a ticket off a scalper so that I'd have a good seat for what may have been his last home start as a Jay.
I also had left a bunch of URLs to articles that I intended to weave into the story. A writeup from the Toronto Sun about the game I was at. A photo from that game. A National Post transcript of his rare press conference after that game. A Toronto Star photo montage showing Roy working with some underprivileged kids. An MLB article charting his rise to success. And an ESPN article about what Roy means as a Toronto sports figure that summed up a lot of what I felt.
All of this was a way to try to put into words the sense of loss I was feeling. But Roy was never traded and I never finished the post -until now. Because that day I dreaded has come. Roy is now a member of the Philadelphia Phillies. I've been spending a lot of time this week reading articles and blogs as a way to mourn. I've gone by a tribute site, read wonderful posts by members of the Jays blogosphere, and have read comments by many Phillies fans who don't realize the gem they're getting.
Even to the end, he's been classy. He held himself well during the media circus last summer when the trade rumours started surfacing. To make this deal happen, to make sure the Jays got the players they wanted, he signed a very club-friendly contract extension. In a time when there's so many negative stories about athletes he has always held himself humbly, fiercely competitive on the field and a true gentleman off it.
It's been easier than July because the writing's been on the wall for a while. He wants to win. We don't have the pieces to do that yet. He deserves a World Series ring - it will cement his place in the Hall of Fame. I just wanted him to do it with us. The thing that consoles me is that he'll be 37 when his contract expires - about the time we're projecting to be competitive. I can't seem him not pitching well then, although maybe not at the level he's at now. We could bring him home, like we did Dave Stieb. And thanks to the MLB front office deciding that we have a rivalry with the Phillies, he'll come home for a series every year. So he's not completely gone. But I won't be able to watch his pitching poetry every 5 days during the season and that's a huge loss.
On my desk at home is a picture of him at Spring Training this year, all smiles. It's brightened my mood many times. On my dresser is the ball he signed for me, the word "dedication" his response to my request to sum up his success in one word. My Facebook photo is currently me with him the day that ball was signed. I don't think I'm moving any of them anytime soon. It's hard to say goodbye to a hero.