In the same way I was intimidated by writing Roy Halladay's preview back in March, I've been dreading writing his Exit Interview. I've spent time searching for positive things to say. Tried to find a way to make this funny or even just slightly amusing. But in the end, I figured honesty was the best policy.
Roy Halladay's 2012 season was terrible.
It both sucked AND blew. And that's not all. It was also alarming, worrying, and frightening.
Man, I'm a little ray of sunshine!
Halladay's season got off to a bumpy start in Spring Training when his decreased velocity led to some less than stellar performances. Ken Rosenthal suggested that Halladay was injured. I openly scoffed at that, and chose to believe Hallday's response, which was essentially "Injured? Me? No! No way. Pay no attention to that decrease in velocity. These are not the droids you're looking for."
Things weren't quite as rosy as he'd described. The issues he had during Spring Training followed him into the regular season. His decreased velocity just killed him. In 156 1/3 innings (his fewest since 2005), he turned in his highest walk rate since 2004 (2.1), and his lowest strikeout to walk ratio since 2007 (3.67). This was also the first season since 2000 that he didn't throw at least one complete game.
The regular season began well enough. His first start of the season was a gem, an Opening Day 1-0 shutout against the Pirates in which he went eight innings. He was great in April, going 3-2 with a 1.95 ERA. (Let's not talk about the bullpen and how the Phillies scored just one run each in both of his April losses.) Halladay's first start in May was one of his worst of the season. Against Atlanta, he gave up eight runs on 12 hits in just 5 1/3 innings, including a grand slam to Brian McCann. He bounced back over his next three starts, but on May 27 he gave up four runs in just two innings and left the game with right shoulder soreness. He was placed on the disabled list two days later, but not before it was revealed that Halladay's shoulder issues were not a new thing.
In retrospect, when Halladay went on the DL, the writing was really on the wall for the rest of the season. But there was never a moment when I wasn't optimistic that he could turn it around. That's part of being a fan -- being somewhat delusional. In 2010 and 2011, watching Roy Halladay pitch was a pleasure. A thrill. Every fifth day was my favorite day. That's what made this season so painful, not to mention alarming and worrisome. Halladay was a machine, but a 35 year-old machine. I just can't look at this as one bad year. The demons in my head force me to consider that it could be the start of his decline. And that is just damn depressing.
Of course, this could just be an elaborate ruse. I temper my expectations for 2013, and Halladay responds with a 2010-esque performance.
Writing this piece forced me to go back through Halladay's starts this year, which triggered just delightful memories of some of the things that happened. I started looking for a game or an incident that really epitomized Halladay's season. I settled on his last start, and the events leading up to it. His penultimate start on September 22 was perhaps his worst of the season. He gave up a putrid 7 runs in just 1 2/3 innings against Atlanta. He had just one start left after that, and he'd been struggling, so why not just shut him down for the season? Why have him pitch again and risk making worse whatever the hell was still going on? During the days before his proposed next start, Halladay threw a bullpen session. Pitching coach Rich Dubee declared him not just good to go, but a completely different pitcher than the one who showed up a few days ago. So of course in his final start against Miami, Halladay gave up five runs in five innings, but would eventually get the win. Nothing went the way it was supposed to this season.
Amaro did an exit interview with our beloved Doc. It went just as well as you'd expect.
Roy, thanks for coming in today. I just have a of questions for... what do you have there? What is all this?
If I'm going to learn from this season, I need to record everything and be as specific and as honest as possible. Pay no attention to the camera.
Something tells me I should have blocked out more than 30 minutes for this. So let's get started. How did you let your teammates down this season?
I failed. I wasn't up to my own standards. I didn't just let my team down, I let you down, I let Charlie down, I let the fans down. If I could refund the fans for every less than stellar start they saw from me, I could, but you and the lawyers told me that I couldn't do that.
Yeah, unfortunately that would open up a whole can of worms. I don't want people thinking they can get a refund for every game that Chad Qualls ruined. Though to be honest, that one's on me. What the hell was I thinking? So anyway, next question...
I wasn't done. I believe there is something that I could have improved upon in every single start. [/opens laptop] Starting at the beginning with my first start, Charlie didn't let me go the full nine innings even though I had only thrown 92 pitches and given up two hits. If we look at six specific at-bats by the Pirates, I'll show you where I could have improved. Ok, so the first at-bat...
[four hours later]
...I mean, five runs in five innings is unacceptable. Especially against Miami in their home ballpark. I failed. And I'm sorry.
Oh God I've completely lost the will to live. [/calls assistant on speakerphone] Please have someone send my car downstairs, and call my wife and tell her I'll be home soon. And please tell her and the kids I love them. And does Mike Sweeney happen to be in the Philadelphia area right now? Or anywhere on the East Coast? Because I could use a hug.
No one's out there. I sent everyone home. I wanted to make sure that we wouldn't be disturbed. Now, next question?