A wave of frothy drizzle sat on Roy Halladay’s face all night. His hallmark concentration cut right through the shit, as he honed in on Paul Hoover’s mitt like a torpedo seeking a school of radioactive piranha.
Kevin Youkilis remained ardently opposed to any and all breaking pitches and sent the ball to live on a farm upstate, on the other side of the outfield wall. It was not the ace’s night. Roy’s concentration remained unbroken. Erase. Recalibrate. Attack.
Charlie Manuel broke into a bad-ass trundle on his way to the mound. He nodded at Doc and said something soothing and Virginian.
“No point in locking the barn after the horses have already eaten your children,” probably was not it.
He took the ball from his starter and the great Doc Halladay stepped off his mound, capping the day off with a performance that saw him go less than six innings. Later that night, before the vigilante crime fighting or marathon of rage-fueled sex that habitually served as outlets for Roy’s stress, he would address the press corps.
“A couple things didn’t go the way I wanted to early,” he said.
Dozens of reporters nodded and scrawled, typed, and recorded in unison. They all needed an angle. Roy Halladay, best pitcher in the game, had just gotten shellacked by a Boston team being pissed on for a slow start. Why could they dethrone him so viciously? Were the Phillies pushing Roy too hard? Did the Sox already know the punchline for the dark, alarmingly precise, totally humorless joke that was Halladay’s pitching?
Six days later, Roy threw the 20th perfect game in the history of Major League Baseball.
Erase. Recalibrate. Attack.
Phillies 1, Marlins 0
“When you’re winning like that, you just feel like, no one can beat you, and things are always going to go your way.”
Those are the words of the legendary, bankrupt Lenny Dykstra. In 1993, the Phillies were rising unbelievable hot streaks, pulling off shocking victories, on their way to the inevitably heart crushing World Series. The same theory can easily be applied to losing.
The last few days of Phillies baseball have been like being trapped in a haunted carnival. Every time we thought we’d found the exit, another demonic clown or deranged popcorn vendor with the bleeding eyes would pop up, and once again, we’d be back to nothing. Nothing. Nothing at all.
Every “0” that went up on the scoreboard–for three straight games–was a fist to the collective Phillies sack. Doubled over in agony, we repeatedly found ourselves victimized by a Mets team that had for so long been content to fester toxically at the bottom of the NL East. It was a traumatizing couple of days. Good pitching went to waste. Jayson Werth shaved his beard. I didn’t sleep well.
Clearly, it was going to take some changes in the entirety of baseball history to turn things back around.
Because of his notoriety for flawless dedication, it is most jarring to see Roy struggle. At all. If he stopped to tie his shoe they would probably have the trainer in his ear within seconds. His past two starts, in which he put up some decidedly un-Halladay numbers (his ERA was flirting with 2.00 for god’s sake), were just this taste of troubling. Not a meltdown, but certainly frustrating.
11 K’s, 115 pitches, 72 for strikes. No Marlins on base. A couple of saucy defensive plays from Wilson Valdez, Juan Castro, and Chase Utley didn’t go unrecognized and Doc gave Chooch a lot of the credit for calling a masterful game.
Not since the great Kevin Millwood in 2003 have the Phillies seen such a day of historic magnitude, and he went on to be a lukewarm starter for the Orioles. So it’s not even really that advisable of a career move, it seems.
“That’s what they got him for,” Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Actually, we got him because Ruben Amaro couldn’t stop seeing Roy’s face in his nightmares. But if he wants to throw in a perfect game, I’ll allow it.
If only someone’s grandma were here to make a vacant, insulting comment about a pointlessly concocted feud.