This week was quite a landmark week in Toronto sports. Roy Halladay, quite possibly the best pitcher in Toronto Blue Jays history, and Colin Doyle, quite possibly the best player in Toronto Rock history, were both traded – Halladay left Toronto while Doyle returned. Halladay’s trade was expected and, I suppose, logical, but saddening, while Doyle’s return is a cause for celebration.
I am really going to miss Roy Halladay. He is the best home-grown pitcher the Jays have ever had, and rivals Roger Clemens for the best overall pitcher in Jays history. He won a Cy Young, and finished in the top five in Cy Young voting five times. His stats over the past few years have been staggering; according to Wikipedia, “From 2002-2008, Halladay has a .698 winning percentage, 113 wins, 9 shutouts, 37 complete games, and 7.14 innings per start, all of which are the best in the American League in that time frame.” Think about it – no AL pitcher (and only one NL pitcher) won more games during that time span, and Halladay played for some pretty mediocre Blue Jay teams. And 37 complete games in seven years – nobody else even has 20. Last year Halladay had nine – the only other pitcher to have more than four was Zack Greinke, the Cy Young award winner, who had six.
But the stats aren’t the whole story. Halladay is simply a joy to watch. I loved watching an opposing hitter look at strike three from Doc. Rarely did you see the batter argue that it wasn’t a strike; more often, you would see the “Holy crap, that was a nice pitch” look on his face. Doc was widely known for his work ethic and his stamina (the complete games I mentioned above). He first came up looking like a star and then totally forgot how to pitch. He was sent all the way down to A ball, a move which would destroy the confidence (and likely career) of lesser mortals, but Halladay worked his ass off and used that opportunity to rebuild his delivery. When he made it back to the majors, he became untouchable. And in this era of an athlete’s fall from grace becoming commonplace (Kobe, the Steroid Kings of baseball, even Tiger), you will never find a classier athlete than Doc anywhere. The deal isn’t finalized yet, so it’s not clear who the Jays are getting in return, but it looks to be at least three good prospects that the Phillies don’t want to give up. I figure if Pat Gillick wants to hold on to them, they’re likely players we want to have.
Colin Doyle was the Toronto Rock’s best player for many years. He won five Championships with the Rock, was named Championship Game MVP three times, and League MVP once. He was first or second in team scoring every year that the Rock existed, including their year as the Ontario Raiders when Doyle won NLL Rookie of the Year. Almost three years ago, Doyle was inexplicably traded to the San Jose Stealth and the Rock’s fortunes departed with him. Of the three seasons he was in San Jose, the Rock missed the playoffs twice, while the Stealth made the playoffs all three years. Doyle is a scorer – a powerful forward who can plow through defenders on his way to the net – but he can also be a playmaker. Indeed, Doyle hasn’t finished with less than 53 assists since 2002, putting him in the top five every year. He, like Halladay, has a strong work ethic and is a fan favourite. He has the ability to make those around him better, and thrives under pressure. Doyle was the captain of the Stealth and is the logical choice to succeed Chris Driscoll as captain of the Rock. As good a player as Lewis Ratcliff is, Doyle is better and I think the Rock just made a big step forwards towards making the playoffs for the first time in three years.