It’s the homecoming that’s been two years in the making. Today, Roy Halladay will finally return to the place where it all began for him – Toronto.
We all remember Halladay’s homecoming was supposed to take place last season, but of course the G20 Summit took precedence and judging by what happened in Toronto, I’m kind of glad they did move that series to Philly.
Absence really must make the heart grow fonder, because in a way I think that homecoming delay is going to make today’s game all that more special. That extra time may have helped healed any wounds from Doc’s initial departure.
Since his time in Toronto, we’ve watched Roy Halladay enjoy a great deal of success with his new club by winning a Cy Young Award, throwing a perfect game, a no-hitter in the playoffs, and coming just short of going to the World Series for the first time.
Philadelphia Phillies fans may have been surprised how a pitcher of Doc’s calibre flew under the radar for so many years in Toronto, but I think we all knew Doc was going to destroy the National League. All Halladay needed to do was go to a winning team to really show the world what he could do.
Even as I type this blog post, I’m torn whether to wear my shirt donning the name of the former face of the Blue Jays franchise, Roy Halladay, or to wear my shirt with the new face of the franchise, Jose Bautista.
In the end, I’ll probably end of wearing the Roy Halladay shirt purely out of respect and admiration. After Roy Halladay was traded, Ricky Romero reiterated that “he’s our enemy now“, and even though Doc will be pitching for the opposition, it will be extremely difficult to root against him today.
As has been demonstrated in past years, some Blue Jays fans might have a tendency to boo any former Blue Jay player when they come to town. However, every single person at the Rogers Centre better be on their feet to show their respect for Roy Halladay when he takes the field.
It’s crazy to think it’s been almost a season and a half since Doc last sported a Blue Jays uniform, and every day my quasi-creepy Roy Halladay shrine reminds me of his time spent in Toronto.
During the summer of 2009 with trade winds swirling stronger than ever before, every Roy Halladay start was dubbed “what could be his last start as a Blue Jay”. At the time, maybe it didn’t quite sink in that each pitch Halladay would throwing would eventually lead to his last as a Blue Jay.
After numerous goodbyes, it was finally time to let go of Roy Halladay. It wasn’t easy to say the least, but it was necessary for both the team and Doc. Halladay wanted a chance to do what he had strived to achieve for 12 seasons, and that’s win.
Ordinarily when a player asks for a trade, that immediately gives them a label as being selfish or greedy. When Roy Halladay asked for a trade though, there was not an ounce of resentment towards the man who gave his all the Blue Jays.
Occasionally we might tend to forget that baseball is just a game, and sometimes the battle lines drawn may overpower the human emotion that’s attached to the game of baseball. Doc may be the enemy today, but for 12 years he was a hero for the city of Toronto, the Blue Jays, and Canada as a whole.
At the end of the day, it’s a competition … but when you spend as much time as was invested in following one particular player like Roy Halladay, you can’t help but feel like part of your baseball identity lies with him. At least for me, anyway.
Players come and go every year, and yet there is a very special breed like Roy Halladay that only come around once every so often. Roy Halladay poured his heart and soul to the Toronto Blue Jays. He spared no effort and left it all out on the field. As cliche as it might sound, it’s all true.
Being the consummate professional that he is, Roy Halladay admitted that he’ll be treating today’s start against the Blue Jays as merely “a regular road game“. It’s a testament to Halladay’s character; he’s all business and never lets emotion get in the way.
But somewhere deep down, you have to think that after working all those years and all those innings on the mound at the Rogers Centre as a Blue Jay, it must feel odd getting ready in the visitor’s clubhouse and pitching for the away team.
The team and the number on the back of his jersey may have changed, but the respect and admiration remains the same for number 32, Roy Halladay. Even though he’s pitching for the opposition, it will be a pleasure to see him work his craft in Toronto once again.
Thanks so much for all your hard work and dedication, Roy. Perhaps once you’ve collected your World Series ring and a couple more awards, maybe we’ll see you back wearing number 32 again some day.