With the MLB season winding down, former Toronto Blue Jays pitching ace Roy “Doc” Halladay is preparing for a long awaited journey - a trip to the post-season. In his first year in the National League, Halladay and his Philadelphia Phillies teammates have extended their lead in the NL East to five games over the Atlanta Braves. The five game lead is crucial for Philadelphia, as the two teams finish the season with a three-game series in Atlanta - the division title could be on the line.
On Tuesday evening, Halladay picked up his twentieth win of the season, joining only a handful of pitchers to accomplish the feat in the American and National League during their career. It is the third time he has reached the 20-win plateau (2003 and 2008 with Toronto), and the first time since 1982 a Philadelphia pitcher (Steve Carlton) reached that milestone.
After 12 years in Toronto, Halladay made the difficult decision to move on from the Blue Jays, but unlike other star players that have left that city under a cloud of controversy; he left with the blessing of Jays fans. While he would still look good in a Blue Jays uniform, fans understood and respected his decision. The trade allowed Doc to aim for the post-season and it gave the Blue Jays the opportunity to acquire several prospects as they entered a rebuilding process.
In the modern sports era, many familiar sports milestones have lost their significance, rushing for 1,000 yards in the NFL for example, but one mark of greatness that still maintains its allure is the 20-win plateau. While so many factors go into a 20-win season, it takes a total team effort to be consistent night after night, Halladay’s ability to shutdown the opposition bats and his work ethic are second to none and he deserves any accolades sent his way. In fact, after pitching a perfect game earlier this season, the Philadelphia media reported that he was in the gym at 8:30am the next morning preparing for his next start!
A first round selection in the 1995 amateur draft, Halladay has a career win/loss record of 168-86, with a remarkable .661 winning percentage, which ranks first among active MLB pitchers and 16th on the all-time list. The 2003 Cy Young Award winner and seven-time All-Star is proud of his season, but when speaking to the media after Tuesday evening’s game, he reminded everyone that his sights are squarely on the MLB’s second season.
“It’s definitely special, but the best part about it is it’s been secondary for me. Being able to get to the playoffs is the priority.”
While it has taken time for Toronto fans to grow accustomed to seeing Halladay in a Philadelphia uniform, there is no doubt they are cheering for Doc and hoping he reaches his ultimate goal - a World Series championship ring. Perhaps it is a good thing Halladay left Toronto, now the baseball world can witness first-hand what Blue Jays’ fans have known all along - Roy Halladay is one of the greatest pitchers in the modern MLB era.
To borrow a line from Stephen Colbert, “A tip of the hat!” to Roy Halladay - even if it happens to be a Blue Jays cap... Congrats Doc!