Saturday, July 2, 2011

Welcome Home, Roy Halladay


By
It's the homecoming that's been two years in the making. Today, Roy Halladay will finally return to the place where it all began for him - Toronto.

We all remember Halladay's homecoming was supposed to take place last season, but of course the G20 Summit took precedence and judging by what happened in Toronto, I'm kind of glad they did move that series to Philly.

Absence really must make the heart grow fonder, because in a way I think that homecoming delay is going to make today's game all that more special. That extra time may have helped healed any wounds from Doc's initial departure.

Since his time in Toronto, we've watched Roy Halladay enjoy a great deal of success with his new club by winning a Cy Young Award, throwing a perfect game, a no-hitter in the playoffs, and coming just short of going to the World Series for the first time.

Philadelphia Phillies fans may have been surprised how a pitcher of Doc's calibre flew under the radar for so many years in Toronto, but I think we all knew Doc was going to destroy the National League. All Halladay needed to do was go to a winning team to really show the world what he could do.

Even as I type this blog post, I'm torn whether to wear my shirt donning the name of the former face of the Blue Jays franchise, Roy Halladay, or to wear my shirt with the new face of the franchise, Jose Bautista.

In the end, I'll probably end of wearing the Roy Halladay shirt purely out of respect and admiration. After Roy Halladay was traded, Ricky Romero reiterated that "he's our enemy now", and even though Doc will be pitching for the opposition, it will be extremely difficult to root against him today.

As has been demonstrated in past years, some Blue Jays fans might have a tendency to boo any former Blue Jay player when they come to town. However, every single person at the Rogers Centre better be on their feet to show their respect for Roy Halladay when he takes the field.

It's crazy to think it's been almost a season and a half since Doc last sported a Blue Jays uniform, and every day my quasi-creepy Roy Halladay shrine reminds me of his time spent in Toronto.
During the summer of 2009 with trade winds swirling stronger than ever before, every Roy Halladay start was dubbed "what could be his last start as a Blue Jay". At the time, maybe it didn't quite sink in that each pitch Halladay would throwing would eventually lead to his last as a Blue Jay.

After numerous goodbyes, it was finally time to let go of Roy Halladay. It wasn't easy to say the least, but it was necessary for both the team and Doc. Halladay wanted a chance to do what he had strived to achieve for 12 seasons, and that's win.

Ordinarily when a player asks for a trade, that immediately gives them a label as being selfish or greedy. When Roy Halladay asked for a trade though, there was not an ounce of resentment towards the man who gave his all the Blue Jays.

Occasionally we might tend to forget that baseball is just a game, and sometimes the battle lines drawn may overpower the human emotion that's attached to the game of baseball. Doc may be the enemy today, but for 12 years he was a hero for the city of Toronto, the Blue Jays, and Canada as a whole.

At the end of the day, it's a competition ... but when you spend as much time as was invested in following one particular player like Roy Halladay, you can't help but feel like part of your baseball identity lies with him. At least for me, anyway.

Players come and go every year, and yet there is a very special breed like Roy Halladay that only come around once every so often. Roy Halladay poured his heart and soul to the Toronto Blue Jays. He spared no effort and left it all out on the field. As cliche as it might sound, it's all true.

Being the consummate professional that he is, Roy Halladay admitted that he'll be treating today's start against the Blue Jays as merely "a regular road game". It's a testament to Halladay's character; he's all business and never lets emotion get in the way.

But somewhere deep down, you have to think that after working all those years and all those innings on the mound at the Rogers Centre as a Blue Jay, it must feel odd getting ready in the visitor's clubhouse and pitching for the away team.

The team and the number on the back of his jersey may have changed, but the respect and admiration remains the same for number 32, Roy Halladay. Even though he's pitching for the opposition, it will be a pleasure to see him work his craft in Toronto once again.

Thanks so much for all your hard work and dedication, Roy. Perhaps once you've collected your World Series ring and a couple more awards, maybe we'll see you back wearing number 32 again some day.

5 comments:

  1. I think you should definitely wear your Jays Halladay shirt. It's the perfect opportunity to show your respect for his work with the Jays, and maybe even to express how we miss seeing him in Toronto. Anyone who doesn't understand that is just fooling themselves.
    After yesterday's ovation, I find it hard to imagine that many people will give you a hard time for supporting Doc (and the Jays), and in fact, you'll probably be in good company- there should be plenty of others in their Halladay garb.
    -Elise

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  2. I don't think it's ever disrespectful to cheer for the home team. it is by no means wrong to cheer him when he is announced or during warm ups, but it is disrespectful to our home team to cheer for the opposition throughout the game.

    Unless he is throwing a perfect game/no-hitter I will be cheering for the Jays after that first pitch.

    Roy is a pro, and he will be trying to beat Toronto, and our players will be trying to do the same. If he intentionally walks Bautista he will hear it from me!

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  3. Elise, I ended up going with the Halladay shirt. And surprisingly enough, there were lots of Phillies jerseys there with Halladay on the back!

    Will, that's basically exactly what happened. The crowd gave Halladay a standing ovation as he took the mound and threw his warmup pitches, and then when he came back out after the game was over.

    In between though, it was all business.

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  4. I think this is a very well written piece of work you have. As I am not a Canadian but a American, and a Phillies fan. I admire Roy's work he has put in as a Blue Jay, and as a Phillie. Just thinking about how he got to the Majors and then sent back to Single A to work on mechanics really makes me think about how hard he works.
    Also Happy Canada Day, even though this is a week after. I wish your Toronto Blue Jays well, and a great 2011 rest-of-season.

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  5. RM46, I appreciate the kind words and thanks for stopping by!

    That's the thing about Roy Halladay; I don't think anybody can say a bad thing about him, whether you're a Blue Jays fan, Phillies fan or just baseball fan in general.

    And Halladay's journey back to the major leagues only makes me appreciate what he did even more.

    Thanks for the well wishes, and good luck to Doc and the Phillies this year as well (that is, unless for some crazy reason the Blue Jays and Phillies meet in the playoffs!)

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