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Why I Love Sports…

(I wrote this on Thursday, but somehow forgot to post it… whoops!)

Yesterday, with the sun shinning, my wife and I both free from work or school, and the baseball playoffs kicking off with David Price – Cliff Lee in the morning and Doc in the afternoon, I was faced with a conflict of interests. Sunshine and my wife, or baseball? Actually, it wasn’t really much of a conflict, the answer’s pretty obvious, but fortunately, in the age of PVR the answer didn’t preclude me watching baseball.

A long walk, lunch out, and a successful trip to the bookstore, had me ready to spend the rest of my afternoon relaxing with the Rays, Rangers, Phils and Reds. I came home, turned on the first game and started to watch. At the same time, I picked up my computer, checked my email, checked my other email, and then did what I do every time I pick up a computer… I went to ESPN. Oops. Cliff Lee and Rangers top Rays. Right… and wow, the Phils are already leading the Rays 4-0. Well, I can stop watching the Rays game and really, are the Reds going to mount a four run comeback on the Phils, especially with Doc on the mound…? It would seem not. So, at the least, I should just jump in on the game where it is, but…

… Here’s the thing: I’ve cheered for Roy Halladay for a decade now. My wife bought me one of those build your own bear things, solely because she could put a uniform on it and the name on the back of the uniform said, Halladay. He was the best player who ever played for my Jays and that includes the legends who won back to back titles during my childhood . Halladay stuck around year after year in a situation that was beyond losing; it was – with the Sox and Yanks conducting scorched earth tactics in the East and the Rays operating an almost perfect organization – futile. Yet he maintained grace and dignity and he pitched freaking awesome. Year after year after year, Halladay brought the thunder. And when he finally asked to be moved, it wasn’t in a trade me or else prima donna scenario, it was more the conciliatory – this is the best move for both you and I and, well, if you can figure a way to get to me to Philadelphia that’d be swell – sort of thing. So, even though it was the third inning and I knew the score, I started from the beginning of the game. Not for the suspense, but because I knew that without complaining, Halladay had pitched meaningless games in front of half empty houses for more than a decade. I wanted to watch him pitch in his first playoff game in front of 40,000 rabid fans.

And in turn, Roy rewarded me, those 40,000 fans, and everyone else watching on TV with what can only be described as masterful. Look, I could care less about no-hitters and only slightly more about perfect games, but that Halladay performance, against a solid Reds offense and NL MVP Joey Votto was what the French call… F***ing Insane. He was putting the ball exactly where he wanted, opening every at bat with a strike, ending almost every at bat with an easy ground ball. There just weren’t any at bats where you questioned who was the master and who were the young pups spinning in disbelief at the master’s tricks.

By the third inning, I knew I was watching something special. My wife, who watches baseball casually, came and sat down in the fourth and having no idea what the score was, or that Roy was throwing a perfect game, became mesmerized by how he was dominating. When he finally walked Jay Bruce in the fifth, I told her that he’d been throwing a perfect game.

“Wow,” pause… “that still means he’s got a no-hitter though right?” Now, first of all, that just made me love her all the more and second, yes, yes he does.

So we sat there, mesmerized on the couch, watching him deliver pitch after pitch exactly where catcher Carlos Ruiz wanted them. Unfazed by the circumstances, unfazed by the Reds trying to break his rhythm – stepping out of the box at the last second – unfazed by his first playoff start. It was perfect, despite the walk.

When the game was over, we watched as Roy was interviewed by TNT’s David Aldridge and when he was asked the leading question to say how good he was today, instead he credited the work of Ruiz behind the plate. He was, even in his moment of glory, the epitome of class (just as he was when he left the Jays and took out that full page ad to thank Toronto fans for everything). I was glad that I watched the game from the beginning; I was happy that my wife joined me in the fourth and stayed riveted until the end; but most of all I was ecstatic for Roy. It was the period on the exclamation point of his argument as the best pitcher in baseball right now. It was riveting viewing. It was, why I love sports.

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  1. Baldy
    October 10, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    Class performance by a very classy guy. Why I’m cheering for Philly this year, which of course means they’re doomed. Sorry Roy.

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