So Long Doc, and Thanks For Owning the Fish (and the M_ts, the Barves, and the Gnats)

Edit: I don't know how to add a picture in here. Yet, anyway...

I've been meaning to share fond (and some not-so-fond) memories of the Phillies, and, after encouragement from Liz, WetLuzinski, Phrozen, and a few others, I finally worked up the nerve to do so. This is a few memories, but it just sums up how I feel. For me, talking about this is sort of the wake for Doc's career, and it feels cathartic to get this out.

When I first heard the news about Roy Halladay, I was sure I was being pranked by a coworker. But after seeing the feeds on Twitter (in particular ZWR's), I knew this was it.

I remember December 15, 2009 quite well. It was a shock when the news broke that, yes, we had acquired Roy Halladay. It sounded like the sort of trade that only happens when you have the "force trade" option enabled on MLB 2K-Whatever, or a fantasy baseball draft. I was sad to see Cliff Lee go (at the time I didn't understand how unnecessary it was), but still...this was ROY FREAKING HALLADAY. I was excited beyond belief. In fact, when I was at the Cherry Hill Mall with a friend two days later, I saw that they already had Halladay shirseys in stock, so, of course, I had to rush and get one. And when my niece was born the following February, one of the first things I got here was a Halladay shirsey of her own (granted, it was a little big, but, hey, she grew into it).

So it was with bated breath that I waited for Opening Day against the Nationals. I managed to borrow a radio at work for the game and got to listen as Doc and the offense destroyed the Nationals 11-1. My first time seeing him in person was May 1st against the Mets, when he pitched a 10-0 shutout and seemed to give a giant middle finger to them, coming off the heels of a 9-2 loss the night before. TV was one thing, but it was nothing compared to actually seeing him pitch.

The Perfect Game was actually one start I missed, by virtue of being up in North Jersey to visit a friend I hadn't seen in a long time. We were at dinner when the news broke, and I regretted missing it, but I did get to see it the following Monday (thank you, Comcast). Again, I'd heard how close he had come to losing it, but he just didn't seem to care. His attitude was "Hey, I'm just trying to win." And it was fun seeing him fillet (pun intended) the Marlins. And it was neat to see Doc just break out into emotion afterwards. Then, a few days later, I got to go to my company's box and was there when the Phillies gave him the fly-fishing trip for the perfecto (and saw the Phanatic plant his snout right over Mrs. Halladay's face. Her reaction was priceless),

A couple weeks after that, I got to see him at Yankee Stadium against CC (yes, he got roughed up, but I think it was part of what restored the karmic balance to the Phillies...but I digress).One of my friends who lives in New York but is originally from Philly asked why I was so eager to see Doc. I just shrugged...hey, anyone can have an off night. Besides, when all was said and done, he had demolished the NL East, going 10-1 with a 1.63 ERA and racking up at least one shutout against each of the opposing teams.

But, of course, around rolled October 6th. I had just gotten out of work and turned on 1210 to find out what was going on with Game 1. When they mentioned it was the fifth and Doc hadn't yet surrendered a hit (though he happened to give up the walk to Jay Bruce a minute later), I thought, he's going the distance. There was no doubt about it for me, though it was still a bit nerve-wracking at the end, of course.

2011...well, really, R2C2 sums it up. And when I made it to Clearwater in 2012, I expected more of the same, especially with Doc being Doc. So...yeah, seeing him struggle was beyond tough. And, like Liz said in her post, I kept believing Doc would turn the corner soon. So when 2013 rolled around, I thought "okay, here we go." But, of course, it was not to be. But there was one bright spot for me that season.

On May 5, 2013, I finally succeeded in convincing my sister to allow me to take my niece to her first Phillies game (thank you, Mother's Appreciation Day). So, the four of us set off, and after some pre-game excitement (the good kind!), we settled in to watch Doc do his thing. And...well, he sort of did. I cringed, because it was painful to see Doc struggle again, more so in person. But I was happy that my niece got to see the man in person, even if it was a terrible outing for him. And what impressed me was that, when Doc was pulled, there were no boos or taunts from the crowd, just applause that seemed to say "Look, we know you're hurt, even if you aren't. But you gave it your best."

And that's what keeps me going. Doc is still a class act, and while I will miss seeing him in a Phillies uniform, I know it's for the best. It troubles me greatly that we couldn't win a World Series for him, but at the same time, I am grateful that he chose to come here and pitch for us. Even if the nasty Fish got him that May afternoon, he still owns their butts.

I can't say enough about how much I admire him -in fact, it was yours truly who added the Roy Halladay entry to TV Tropes (yes, really). This is a guy who got to the majors, then got sent down to Dunedin for being so bad and, thanks to the Blue Jays coaches, managed to completely rebuild himself into the pitcher we all know and love. Seriously, it's something that should be made into a major motion picture. He worked so damn hard to be who he is, and he's never let it go to his head.

Doc, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for pitching for us these past four years. I'm sorry you didn't get the ring -no, rings- you so richly deserve, but thank you for hanging in and giving us all so many great memories. I wish you a happy retirement, and I look forward to seeing you inducted into the Wall of Fame at CBP, and, if the writers association has even a modicum of brain cells, Cooperstown. Be well, enjoy a long and happy retirement, God bless, and, again, thank you for owning the Fish (and the rest of the NL East).

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