I figured I'd wait this post out. Let the trade settle in. Gain some perspective, understand it was a deal that had to be made, and go from there. Write up a handful of paragraphs praising the virtues of Harry Leroy Halladay and drool excitedly over our own fresh new batch o' prospect porn.
But you know, that's not really what I do. I could never write anything as eloquent as things already said (epic), and I won't pretend to try. And maybe I should wait it out - hell, we don't even know for sure who exactly is coming back in the deal (as of this writing, it looks like Drabek, Taylor, d'Arnaud)...but for this post, that matters little. This post is all about who the Toronto Blue Jays - the organization and their fans - are losing. So pay attention, Philadelphia. Bear with my melodrama as I type away with the story still unfolding....because our loss is quite clearly going to be your gain.
You know what else this post is not about? The stats. Oh, any Jays fan could probably recite verbatim all the relevant numbers on the back of Doc's baseball card. We'll tell you about the Cy. We'll talk wins, we'll talk complete games, strikeouts, whatever. We'll also tell you about his stuff. His filthy, "did you see that?", stuff. Rivera is & always will be the master of the cutter, but Doc will follow his up with an equally nasty two-seamer. Or maybe he'll sink the fastball on you. Or just flat-out embarrass you when he drops the hook. But no, this isn't about the stuff, either.
This post is about the feeling that just having Doc on the team gave to Jays fans. It's hard to explain, really. He was ours. He was our guy. He grew up in the system, a Blue Jay through and through. He came within one out (damn you, Bobby Higginson) of tossing a no hitter in just his second major league start. A season later, the wheels came off, he struggled mightily, but back he came - through the system - more dominant than ever.
That feeling of pride we felt for our guy came in many forms. Just watching Doc deal. All business. No distractions. No tolerance for error. It came in reading game recaps, with opposing managers & hitters alike inevitably exclaiming that Doc was the best they'd faced all year. And through all of those early struggles and subsequent dominance - he was a Blue Jay. He was the guy who signed not one, but two extensions at a hometown discount because he wanted to be a Blue Jay. Don't think we didn't notice that, Roy, because we did.
This post is also about what the Jays are losing off the field. The Halladays are good people, man. Doc's box for sick kids. His under-reported work in the community. The responsibility he felt as a role model. Read this piece from a few seasons back, and if it doesn't get a little dusty for you, well, you're as robotic as Doc's right arm. Honestly, I'm sure there are many players who do as much in their towns as Doc, but rare is the athlete who can match that integrity, that dedication, that humility....and that talent. And we had him. For twelve seasons, we had him.
Players come and go. We're cheering for laundry, right? I'll get excited about the players coming back in the trade. They'll bring hope for better days ahead and a new era of a competitive Toronto ballclub. In time, we'll be breathless about the next great pitching prospect in the system. Some day, we might even find a kid of whom we will say "he reminds me a little of a young Roy Halladay."
But there will never be another Roy Halladay. There can't be.