Roy Halladay was put on this planet to play baseball. The man loves the game and he loves to pitch. He was born to do it. I don't think that anything that happened tonight, or over the past two years, has changed that.
But many other things have changed.
You don't need me to tell you that. You just need eyes in your face. Tonight was most likely Roy Halladay's last start as a Phillie, and he lasted just three batters. He threw 16 pitches, just five for strikes, and topped out at just 83 miles per hour before being mercifully removed from the game. He walked two and induced a pop-up on a 3-2 pitch. The roof of Marlins Abandoned Empty Cavern Stadium (or Marlins Park, if you want to get technical) was closed, so the climate was controlled and "comfortable" according to noted comfort expert Tom McCarthy. But Halladay was sweating bullets from the first pitch, and by the end of his brief appearance, there was sweat dripping off the brim of his hat.
Roy Halladay is not well. Whether it's "right arm fatigue," the official explanation from the Phillies, or something else entirely, it's clear that something is not OK. Gone is the assumption that shoulder surgery and time could fix his problems. I have no confidence that anyone even knows what Halladay's problems really are, but something is wrong.
As it's been over the last two years, when Roy Halladay pitches, it's not about the team or even the game -- it's about Roy Halladay. The Phillies couldn't muster up any offense, BJ Rosenberg vomited up three runs in the eighth inning after the bullpen had been great all night, and the team got shut out for the 14th time in 2013. But none of that really mattered. The Phillies are just adding another loss to a depressingly bad losing season. What mattered is that tonight killed, for me at least, the last tiny sliver of hope I had that Roy Halladay could at some point regain his pre-2012 form. Hell, I don't know if I have any hope that he can find a way to reinvent himself and make a comeback. The way he looked when he walked off the mound... I have no idea what the future holds for him, or if it even features any pitching in the major leagues. And I'm pretty sure that Halladay has no idea either. He looked confused, frustrated, and truly distressed. Pitching is what he's meant to do. It's what he wants to do. And he just can't do it right now.
Sometimes, baseball kicks you in the metaphorical nutsack so hard that you can taste it in the back of your throat. Life isn't fair, and neither is baseball -- for its most ardent fans or its most dedicated players. You can accept that or you can fight it, but it doesn't matter either way. It doesn't make something like this hurt any less.