As if Roy Halladay needed to do anything more to solidify his place in Phillies history after his perfect game earlier this season, the future 2010 Cy Young award added to his legacy on Wednesday with a performance that will go down among the best in post-season history in the sport of baseball.
In his long-awaited playoff debut, Halladay went out to the Citizens Bank Park mound and pitched the 2nd no-hitter in MLB Playoff history, a performance that carried his Phillies to a historic 4-0 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in game 1 of the NLDS.
Just think about it for a second.
One of the best pitchers, players, and most importantly, people in baseball, pitching arguably the best game of his entire life, which already includes a perfect game and a Cy Young season, in his first introduction to playoff baseball.
Can you write a script better than that?
Before you say yes or no, consider the circumstances.
First off, the pressure surrounding the game itself makes Halladay’s feat improbable enough. For eight seasons, Doc racked up meaningless accolades along with innings pitched on that golden right arm of his while toiling away in the cellar of the AL East as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. That was something he realized, and made known by facilitating potential trade moves. He wanted to go to a contender. He wanted to have a chance to win. Eight months later, after finally getting his wish by being dealt to the cream of the crop in the NL, everything came full circle. For Halladay, a pitcher that has commands attention by virtue of his performance as he does for the road that he traveled to get to this point, to take the mound in the most meaningful moment of his baseball career, and do what only one other person (Don Larsen) has been able to do of that level, with the added factor of it being in front of 45,000 screaming home fans is something that no one, even Halladay, could have dreamt of.
Secondly, the nature of dominance Halladay had on the entire Cincinnati Reds organization is something that has never been duplicated considering who the opponent was. The Reds, who ended the regular-season as the top offensive team in the NL in a handful of statistical categories, entered their first playing appearance in 15 years riding a wave of confidence that hasn’t been seen Cincinnati since the Big Red Machine. For Halladay to silence that caliber of an offense to that magnitude in an opening game of playoff series, it’s something that could demoralize the Reds to the point where it could single-handidly ruin Cincinnati’s chances of winning this series. Plain and simple, for just one pitcher to be able to dictate the outcome of an entire series in just one 9-inning game is historic.
Speaking of this game on a historical compass, the hype surrounding Halladay is what lastly made this a performance that people, especially in the Philadelphia area, will talk about forever. If you have selective memory, let me remind you that once upon a time, Halladay was acquired and signed to a long-term deal by the Phillies by virtue of a collection of controversial moves that sent away a beloved Cliff Lee and a couple of prospects, including the highly-regarded Kyle Drabek. The move, which ruffled feathers with the Philadelphia fans and even within the organization as Halladay was inked to contract that made him one of the highest paid players in all of baseball, was one that could only be justified with one result.
To win a World Series.
If this season is any indication, Roy Halladay has passed every test and lived up to each inch of hype built around his persona to get to that point.
Wednesday’s historical performance was, as crazy as it sounds, was no different.