Nov. 27, 2017
Sometimes Life Isn't Fair
So where do we begin? I woke up from my afternoon nap and turned off the alarm on my phone to notice that a few of the sports broadcasters and commentators that I follow on Twitter had all commented on the same subject. Not unheard of but a bit unusual because some guys follow hockey; others basketballball or football but there was a ton of traffic from the people that follow baseball. At first I figured a big trade had gone down or there were rumours. Something didn't seem right.
What really set off alarm bells was that Bob McCown from the fan had tweeted something. He hates Twitter. A lot. He mentions it all the time. When he actually sends out a tweet which are few and far between it means he's genuinely interested in whats going on or concerned. So when I see that he's tweeted about the same things these other reporters are tweeting about I'm interested.
I made the mistake of opening my phone to see what was happening. All of us know by now what happened. Roy Halladay; former Blue Jays and Phillies pitcher was killed in a plane crash. I had to check every site that I could find off the top of my head to confirm. Surely this couldn't be true. He's got a family that he adores. He loves flying. How could this happen so soon? So young? The more I looked the through various media outlets the more it started to sink in. He was gone.
Now I know this statement might anger people but it's how I feel. When Gord Downie passed away; was I sad? For his family and his fans but I thought that the tributes and everything that went along with it for almost a week was a bit much. There were all of the sudden hundreds of Hip fans coming out of the woodwork. I was saddened by his loss; because it was so public; because it played out right in front of our eyes and it lasted for some time. Did it cause me to be very upset? Not at all. I didn't know Gord; he seemed like a great person but I didn't know him one bit....Like I said; this might anger people. So I apologize.
Roy Halladay passing hurt me much more. We played the same sport. We played the same position. I watched him come up as a young pitcher; saw him almost throw a no hitter against the Tigers as a rookie and then get demoted when he couldn't find the strike zone and come back be one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball for almost 10 seasons even though a couple of those seasons were shortened by injury. Being that dominant in a league where we now know steroids was very prevalent is extremely impressive.
If you look up his stats one thing that will jump out at you is his innings pitched in each season. In an era where a pitcher getting to 200 innings is impressive; my mind gets blown every time I glance at Halladays numbers. During his 8 healthy seasons from 2002-2011 (he missed time in 2004 with shoulder problems and 2005 after having his leg broken by a line drive) he threw on average 240 innings. Read that again. 240 FREAKING INNINGS!!!! That number could have been even higher if during 2008 when he underwent an emergency appendectomy and missed 3 starts. He still managed to pitch 227 innings! That's incredible. Follow that up with 2008 when he pitched 246 innings. My god. He even took a line drive off the head during that season. That season he had 3 complete game losses. In a row. Let that sink in. He went the distance even though the team lost. 2009 he went on the DL with a pulled groin and still threw 239 innings. It boggles my mind.
The stories that everyone has heard by now are incredible. His workout routine was incredible. Guys would show up at spring training at 6 or 7am and wonder why he was eating breakfast soaked. Some thought it was that he got caught in the rain. Others thought maybe the sprinklers got him. Not the case at all. He was finishing his workout at that ungodly hour. That made others work harder.
There's a story of how one vet showed up early that Roy one day to workout. He got there at 5am. Roy being the competitor that he was; got pissed off. The next day he was there at 4am. The vet stopped coming at 5am. It was too much.
AJ Burnett tried to keep up with Roy one spring training. It lasted a couple of weeks. He was that intense. And it worked. As hard as these workouts were and as laser focused as he was; everyone says that he was a great teammate. Always there for the young guys because he got sent down after making it to the bigs. He knew what it took to get back. The best part about that interview was that he said when he got sent down and they tweaked his mechanics; that helped a bit but it was the mental help he received that got him to a higher level. He worked like crazy with a sports psychologist. Looking at his body of work you can't argue with the results.
In every sense of the word he was an ace. A bulldog. A competitor. He wanted the ball every 5th day and wanted to finish what he started no matter what. He even went to management to say he wanted to pitch every 4th day at one point in his career. They told him to ask the other starters on the team what they thought and all of them decided they didn't want to do it. So Roy being the good guy that he was stuck with the going every 5th day and didn't complain. That was the type of teammate he has been remembered as. The best way of putting it and this is paraphrasing from some other writer: "The Blue Jays weren't a great team for a lot of the years that Roy played here but every 5th day we had the best team in all of baseball."
I hate having to write the article. It sucks. Roy Halladay was to me what Gord Downie was to others. He died doing what he loved. That doesn't make it any easier. Perhaps; it's now being a husband and a father that the first thing I thought about was "Oh my god his wife and his boys." I couldn't imagine leaving this world leaving my wife and kid behind. My heart breaks for them. No more holidays, or birthdays or baseball road trips. They have to go on and get by and that is what I find so unfair.
So if you read this and have a special person or persons in your life. Don't be afraid to say you love them and give them a hug. Life is too short not to let the people in your like that you care about know how much you care about them.