Monday, 27 July 2009

A Lament From a Blue Jays Fan

Toronto is finally on the media radar of our sports reporter cousins from south of the border. It is impossible to access a blog, magazine, website, sport round table TV show, or newspaper column these days without some mention of the proposed trade of Blue Jay star pitcher Roy Halladay to _________. (insert favourite team here!) The twitter universe is all atwitter, hardly able to contain themselves at the prospect of Doc fronting their rotations for the next 18 months at least. If one were to believe the fans in Philly, he is the missing piece that could singlehandedly guarantee back-to-back-to (dare I say it) back championships. The morons of ESPNs Sports Reporters show yesterday actually dedicated an entire segment to the phantom deal, and speculated on the fact that Halladay has proven absolutely nothing in his career because he has been toiling away in the tundra of Toronto for lo these past 12 seasons and has never even sniffed the post season. These are the same idiots who seem to believe that the entire baseball universe revolves around Boston and New York and God help the teams that dethrones the sainted Yankees or Red Sox. (are you listening Tampa Bay fans!) The supposed guys (they are always guys, aren't they?) in the know have been continually chastising Jays management for a perceived greediness in the negotiations and are stunned that the boys in blue might actually hang onto the good doctor when there seems to be no hope of the playoffs once again. As a dedicated Jays fan since inception and a proud citizen of Canada's only major league city, I feel a moral obligation to correct some misconceptions about the best pitcher in baseball (yes, I am including Johann Santana and Tim Lincecum in that bold statement!) and to defend my hometown.

Roy Halladay is simply the finest homegrown player to ever wear a Jays uniform, and the best pitcher this town has ever had. (Please don't send me e-mail about Joe Carter or Robbie Alomar. They arrived in trades and did not come up through the Jays system.) I say this with all deference to Dave Stieb, who was a joy and pleasure to watch every fifth day, but Halladay is simply better and is still not finished. As of July 20th of this year, he has a career record of 142-69, (a .673 winning percentage) an career ERA of 3.46, 1400 strikeouts, and an amazing 44 complete games. He is horse. He is dedicated to his craft, is never unprepared for any start and has had only 2 stints on the DL. He is a 6 time all-star, the 2003 Cy Young Award winner and has finished in the top five in the voting three other times. Just for good measure, he has 12 career shutouts. Not only that, he has winning records against both the Red Sox and the Yankees, teams that the poor Jays have to face 18 times a season each due to the ridiculous schedule. So, please don't tell me that he isn't the elite pitcher in the game today simply because you parochial yanks haven't taken the time or effort to watch him throw. Halladay is also a solid citizen. He has never once been caught up in scandal, has twice foregone free agency to sign extensions because he actually likes our city and has been a huge philanthropist in giving back to the community. He is the face of the Blue Jays, so please forgive Riccardi (I am no fan, believe me!) and company for setting the trade bar a tad high.

Is Halladay worth what the Jays are asking? Hard to tell from a baseball perspective because prospects are all about the future and many don't pan out. But, can the Jays reasonably deal the best player to arguably ever to wear their uniform without being able to say to their fans, "We got the other guys best players?" Absolutely not. Baseball in Toronto is already on life support. Fan interest is dwindling and another lost season is upon us. The unbalanced money situation in baseball means that we up here cannot compete with the big boys even though we play in their division. The proposed dealing of Doc is as much a Blue Jays survival deal as it is a pure baseball one. Fans here would rather see the Jays lose with Doc than build without him and attendance is sure to plummet further in the aftermath of such a trade. Signs around the ballpark over the last couple of weeks have been all about firing management and keeping Roy. If the Jays blow this deal, the repercussions will be lengthy and deep. It could very well be the beginning of the end for baseball in Toronto. I don't think that that is too strong a statement. Players are always using the Jays to build or resurrect their careers, and then off to greener pastures down south. In Doc, Torontonians have found a sports idol who really wants to be here and we cynical Canadians have embraced him.

If Doc is dealt, I as a fan will mourn his loss but accept this part of the game I truly loathe. I understand the economics of the situation, but this is more than your average baseball deal. This is the Blue Jays "Babe Ruth" moment. It may haunt them for years to come.


  1. Alas Dawn, it is really a sad state of affairs [baseball term ].
    Let me put some of your comments in a different perspective and see where we land, perhaps differently.
    First, everything you say about hallida is absolutely correct. He is the best home grown pitcher the Jays have ever developed and he is the consummmate professional and community giver.
    For this reason, I believe that Halliday DESERVES to be traded.
    To play on a winning team ..a team that has a chance to accomplish winning a world series....instead of having this Gem of a player win meaningless games on a team that is just about to begin DISMANTLING its core, including:
    - Ridding itself of its failing G.M.
    - Ridding iteself of Wells, Rios, Overbay..$150,000,000 in contracts no team will absorb.
    - Absorbing $15,000,000 in what's his name who just left and is making 15M$ toiling for the Chicago Cubs AA team.
    - Dwindling fan base
    - The highest # of lost games to injuries by its pitchers in the Major Leagues [there are interesting POV's by knowledgeable baseball fans]
    and on and on....

    So......I hope that Halliday finds a home with a winner so he can win a world series and show his ring to his grandchildren....and I hope for different reasons the Jays can package Wells,Rios, and overbay in the deal[even 1 of them].

    That's it!

  2. Irwin,
    I don't disagree with anything that you have said. If I haven't made myself clear, allow me to expand my thoughts. While I will be disappointed and discouraged if Halladay is traded, my only hope as a Blue Jay fan is that the idiot GM extracts a king's ransom for him because of the special place that he holds for Blue Jay fans. Anything less would be a betrayal to the season ticket holders and the rest of Blue Jay nation. Riccardi cannot be allowed to have anybody force his hand on this deal and he must hold firm to asking for the top prospects, not the second tier.