One of the highlights of the Phillies golden age, (2007-2011 may it RIP) was the amount of tremendous pitching talent Phillies fans could enjoy on a nightly basis
Beginning with the development of homegrown ace Cole Hamels in 2006, the acquisitions of Cliff Lee in 2009, Roy Halladay several months later, and Roy Oswalt at the trade deadline in 2010, it was fun to watch these aces work their craft on a nightly basis. (Oh yeah and Joe Blanton in 2008. Sorry Joe, you always get left out for some reason).
Who can forget this awesome SI cover?
While the Phillies once had four aces, now they’re down to just two.
In news that comes as little surprise to me, Halladay announced his retirement Monday at the Winter Meetings in Orlando.
Anyone who saw Doc pitch the last two seasons knew it would be an uphill battle to restore the talents to his once seemingly robotic pitching arm.
When Halladay came to Philadelphia, I was a sophomore at Penn State and not in the Philadelphia area. While I read blogs and news articles and tuned into Philly sports talk radio to get the pulse of the move, it didn’t seem like fans really appreciated acquiring the best pitcher in baseball.
The easy explanation for this was the fans’ bewilderment over the trading of Cliff Lee on the same day the Phils acquired Halladay. Lee was probably the most popular athlete in Philly, even though he was there for about five months, because of his dominant postseason.
Fans wanted Lee AND Halladay to go with the (at the time) disappointing Cole Hamels.
While I wanted that too, I wouldn’t let the trade of Lee diminish the arrival of the best pitcher in baseball.
And he eventually more than made up for fans’ disappoint in losing Lee. When he was on his game, he made it look easy. So easy that fans probably didn’t realize how good he was until he started to decline in 2012 and 2013.
Doc was a throwback. If he didn’t go eight innings in a start, you’d have to wonder if something was wrong. Pitch counts simply didn’t apply to him.
Not only did he throw the second perfect game in the history of the Phillies, but he then went and one-upped himself to this:
That playoff no-hitter,(only the second ever in MLB history) is without a doubt a top five Philly sports moment for me and is my second favorite Phillies moment of the golden era. (I think you can guess the first).
Oh yeah, and he took less to come to Philly. People always talk about the deal Lee took to come back to Philly, but Halladay signed for much left then he could’ve received as a free agent. After the trade, he signed a 3-year $60 million deal with a vesting option (which he never reached), to forego free agency. It’s pretty safe to say he would’ve doubled that and gotten at least 6 years $120 million on the open market. (looking back on it, that would’ve been a huge mistake for a team).
I admire Halladay’s decision to know when is enough. Being the talent he was and the class act he is, he deserved every bit the retirement farewell that Mariano Rivera got this past year. Of course, Rivera was still on his game, while Doc clearly wasn’t.
When the Phillies had the four aces, everyone seemed to have a favorite. Some chose Cole, because he was the homegrown ace who helped win a World Series, Cliff because he was a folk hero in 2009 and turned down the Yankees to play here. Not sure if many chose Oswalt, but he was certainly popular.
And then Halladay, whom I always enjoyed watching the most. Mainly because I knew the Phillies were going to win with him on the mound, and it was fun to watch him carve up opposing lineups so effortlessly. Not to mention that there was a real chance he could throw a no-hitter every time out.
Doc was must-see TV and I’ll always be grateful for his desire to come to Philly and pursue the World Series that he badly deserved, but ultimately never won.
Thank you Roy Halladay for leaving me with unforgettable memories. It was a joy to watch you work.