For someone who spends as much time face first in the news as I do, I’ve had a rough week.
On Friday night, I was out having a drink when, a bit past midnight (technically Saturday at that point), I learned that Gary Coleman had died the day before. The next day, I went over to my Google News front page, and took a quick glance at which names were popular search terms. When I saw Dennis Hopper, I let out an audible “uh oh.” Sure enough, the great Hopper was no longer with us. And I was bummed.
After a busy Saturday, I woke up Sunday morning to see a new name at the top of the most searched: Roy Halladay. I was praying he hadn’t died, too, thus completing our celebrity death trio. As much as I hated seeing him suit up for the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League East for all those years, he’s a horse. He’s an old school pitcher in the tradition of Nolan Ryan, who throws hard, racks up the innings, strikes guys out and completes games. And his nickname is “Doc.” There is nothing to dislike about Roy Halladay.
Well, fortunately, Halladay is still alive and kicking, and he’s currently tearing up the National League in his first year with the Philadelphia Phillies. Before Saturday night, he had already completed four games with two shutouts, tossed 77 innings and worked his magic to the tune of a 1.99 ERA and a 0.998 WHIP. Just beautiful. He’s an artist on the mound, and he was even nice enough to lose to Tim Wakefield and the Red Sox last week. A true gentleman if there ever was one.
And then, Saturday, he threw a perfect game.
Finally overcoming my news coma, I studied up on his feat. Over a tidy two hours and 13 minutes in whatever they’re calling Joe Robbie Stadium this year, Halladay struck out 11 Florida Marlins and only allowed six balls to leave the infield. He threw 115 pitches, and he worked out of four 3-2 counts.
The poor Marlins never had a chance.
Now, I’m not on board with the idea that the National League is weaker or easier than the American League. But I will give you that an elite pitcher is going to have a much easier time of it facing a pitcher or a below-replacement-level batter every nine turns in the order. Essentially trading David Ortiz and Hideki Matsui for Tim Hudson and John Maine has to be fun.
Predictably, save for his one start against the American League’s Sox, Halladay has been totally dominant. And that is a blast to watch. As a baseball fan, there’s little as fun was watching an elite pitcher toy with Major League hitters over the course of a season. Halladay has at least two more years in Philadelphia to keep doing this, too.
As long as he’s in the other league, I should have no trouble balancing my enjoyment of watching him pitch and looking at his box scores with my own Sox fandom. But besides, this sort of thing goes beyond mere team loyalties. Generally, I root for greatness, and I root for dominance of a legendary scale.
Roy Halladay is greatness and dominance. And on Saturday night, he authored a game that will live on beyond him. He’s immortal now. That’s about as heavy as it gets in baseball.