See, we all knew this was coming, didn't we? Roy Halladay, now a Philadelphia Phillie, goes ahead and chases the ghost of Bobby Higginson (you worthless prick - but no offense, Bobby) and tosses a perfecto for his new team. Phillie phans (barf) celebrate, Jays fans wonder....
What if Roy were still a Jay? What if Ruben Amaro refused to include Kyle Drabek in any negotiations and Anthopoulos rolled the dice on another year of Doc - to the deadline, at least? And with that deadline approaching, and the Jays in contention, and heading in the right direction.....what if? Would Anthopoulos have held on to #32? Would Roy now at least consider listening on an extension? Could this have been the season where the rallying cry of "Playoffs!" was more than an exercise in hyperbole? So many "what ifs" and so many questions to ponder.
(you knew there was a "but" coming....there's always a "but"....)
None of this would have happened if Doc still wore blue (I know, I know...). Anthopoulos very likely would have shaped the roster much differently: we might not have been witness to the maturation of Travis Snider with everyday at-bats; Jose Bautista may not have been given the opportunity to flourish that he's had to date; Freddy Lewis may never have found his way north; John Buck's at-bats might have been taken by Rod Barajas. Maybe Johnny Mac is 100 AB deep by now.
And the pitching.....yes, the pitching. Shaun Marcum (5-1, 2.59), Ricky Romero (4-2, 3.42), and Brett Cecil (5-2, 3.81) shape the new front end of the Jays rotation. And they've been fucking awesome. Pardon the language, but they have been.
Now, let me get one thing straight - I don't particularly buy the talk that a Doc-less clubhouse has made for a looser bunch of ballplayers, and the team is gelling like never before without Halladay's intimidating presence and massive shadow looming over the staff. But it does seem unquestionable that a Doc-less rotation has forced the young core of starters to mature and take on roles they may otherwise not have.
Shaun Marcum is the leader of the staff, and the broadcast throwaway shots of Marcum leading a conversation with a handful of pitchers along the dugout rail warms my heart. Rick Romero is trusting his stuff like never before and refuses to cave even when taking the mound with less. Brett Cecil is a new pitcher entirely and has forced his way into any and all discussions surrounding the future 5-man. Along with #1 prospect Kyle Drabek, that is.
Would all of this have happened on a Jays team led by Halladay? Maybe. Possibly. But I doubt it.
Let's enjoy Halladay's achievement for what it is - an afternoon of pure brilliance by the best in the game - a feat many of us foresaw as an inevitability.
But let's also enjoy the 2010 Toronto Blue Jays for what they are - an exciting team of hungry young players and veterans thriving in the opportunity.
There's no turning back - "Roy Halladay is not walking through that door, people" - and quite honestly, I don't know that I would if I could. Congrats to Roy. It's beyond well deserved. It's what we all hoped for Doc, along with the NL Cy (uh, slow down there, Ubaldo) and World Series ring.
But the Jays are 29-22 and have given plenty of reasons to dream of still better days ahead, and yeah, just maybe.....playoffs!
That's what I'm celebrating today.