BY MIKE CORMACK – sportsnet.ca
The breakup between Roy Halladay and the Blue Jays back in December of 2009 was one of those long, slow splits in which both parties finally realized it wasn’t going to work. So when the time came for them to go their separate ways, there were a few hard feelings involved, save for Jays fans who may have felt like "The One" just slipped away.
To be sure, it’s hard for Canadian baseball fans to imagine a more attractive package in a Jays uniform than Halladay, so we suppose it’s only been natural for them to follow his progress in the National League, constantly size up others to him (see Ricky Romero) and quietly hold out hope that someday they might reunite (wink, wink: Doc’s current deal expires after the 2013 season).
Which is why for some Jays fans Halladay’s return to the Rogers Centre this weekend with the Philadelphia Phillies feels less like a baseball game and more like a high school reunion. It’s an opportunity for them to measure up, to put their best face on (i.e. pack the house), to see him one more time, and finally, to say thanks for the memories.
So cue your sappy breakup music of choice as we take a look back at Halladay’s time with the Jays. But please, no crying.
Remember, this is baseball.
June 1, 1995: Halladay is drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1st round (17th overall) of the 1995 amateur draft by then Blue Jays general manager Gord Ash. He spends the better part of the next three seasons (1996-1998) in the Jays minor-league system.
1998: Debuts with the Blue Jays on Sept. 20, pitching five innings as the starter but gets a no-decision in a 7-5 win over Tampa Bay. A week later against the Detroit Tigers, he takes a no-hitter into the ninth inning only to have it broken up with two outs on a Bobby Higginson home run. Despite that, Halladay picks up his first career win with a 2-1 victory.
1999: Makes the club out of spring training and compiles an 8-7 win-loss record, with a 3.92 ERA, and one save, splitting time between the starting rotation and the bullpen.
2000: Halladay again starts the season with the Jays, but struggles and spends the rest of the season in the minors. His ERA with the Jays is 10.64, the highest-ever ERA recorded among major league pitchers in a single season with a minimum 50 innings pitched.
2001: After struggling again in spring training, the Jays decide Halladay needs an overhaul and have him start the season in Dunedin with their class-A team. Halladay works with Jays coaches including the late Mel Queen to rebuild his delivery and by mid-season he is back with the Jays. In 17 starts he goes 5-3 with a 3.16 ERA. As a team, the Jays continue to struggle and after finishing 80-82, GM Gord Ash is fired and J.P. Ricciardi is hired to replace him.
2002: Halladay has a breakout season. He wins 19 games, loses just seven, and sports a 2.93 ERA. Most significantly, he begins to build his reputation for eating innings as he works 239.1, the third highest total of his career. In July he is added to the American League all-star team.
2003: Halladay enjoys his best season to date, compiling a won-lost record of 22-7 and a 3.25 ERA to earn the American League Cy Young Award. He pitches 266 innings, including a career-high nine complete games, and walks just 32 batters while striking out 204. The Jays win 86 games.
2004: Halladay encounters his first injury trouble, and twice is placed on the DL with shoulder problems. He pitches just 133 innings, going 8-8 with a 4.20 ERA.
2005: Halladay’s injury problems seem behind him as he begins the year on a tear, going 12-4 with a 2.41 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in 19 starts. He is tabbed to be the starter in the All-Star Game, but in early July he takes a Kevin Mench line-drive off his leg in Texas and is lost for the rest of the season.
2006: In the spring, Halladay signs a three-year extension that will pay him $40 million, well below the market rate had he opted for free agency. The contract runs through 2010, setting the table for the trade talk that will dominate the 2009 season. He has another solid season, going 16-5 with a 3.19 ERA and finishes third in Cy Young voting. The Jays finish second in the division with 87 wins, but fail to make the playoffs.
2007: Halladay earns his 100th career win in May, but prior to that he again suffers an unusual injury, missing three weeks after undergoing an appendectomy. Over the season he goes 16-7, but as a team the Jays again fail to make the playoffs, winning 83 games to finish third in the division behind New York and Boston.
2008: Though he has a stellar season, going 20-8, the team continues to flounder. For the first time publicly, Halladay expresses frustration at the Jays’ lack of success.
When asked about his future at the All-Star Game in July, he replies: “We sit down every spring training and we talk about the same things and it’s almost like a little bit of ‘Groundhog Day.’ That definitely gets frustrating. You want to talk about why we’re succeeding, what we’ve done to help us get to that point of where we’re at, and we just haven’t done that.” Speculation grows on his future once his contract ends after 2010, and also on that of Ricciardi’s as GM.
The Jays win 86 games, but again finish third in the AL East. Following the season, the contract of longtime team president Paul Godfrey isn’t renewed and former president Paul Beeston returns as interim president with the task of finding his own replacement.
2009: Speculation on Halladay’s future becomes one of the biggest storylines of the season, and hits its peak in July when Ricciardi admits he will trade Halladay for the right deal.
Said Ricciardi: “We’re (leaning) more toward listening than we’ve ever been.” Halladay is 10-3 at the all-star break and is selected to start for the American League, but after Ricciardi’s announcement and the swirling trade talk, he struggles, losing two of his three starts prior to the July 31 trade deadline.
Ricciardi is unable to complete a deal and Halladay completes the season with the Jays at 17-10 with a 2.79 ERA. Following the season, Ricciardi is fired by Beeston and replaced by assistant GM Alex Anthopoulos.
Dec 15, 2009: Halladay is traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for minor league prospects Travis D’Arnaud, Kyle Drabek, and Michael Taylor. He agrees to a contract extension worth US$60 million that includes a $20 million vesting option for a fourth season (2014).
May 29, 2010: Halladay pitches the 20th perfect game in MLB history against the Florida Marlins in Miami, retiring all 27 batters, including 11 strikeouts. He finishes the 2010 regular season with a 21–10 record and a 2.44 ERA, setting a career high with 219 strikeouts and just 30 walks. He leads the National League in wins and innings pitched, with nine complete games including four shutouts.
October 6, 2010: In his first postseason appearance, Halladay pitches a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds in the first game of the National League Division Series. He becomes the second player ever to pitch a no-hitter in the postseason, joining Don Larsen of the 1956 New York Yankees, who pitched a perfect game in the World Series.
He also becomes the first pitcher since Nolan Ryan in 1973 to throw two no-hitters in a season.
November 16, 2010: Halladay becomes the fifth player to win the Cy Young Award in both leagues when he receives all 32 first-place votes to win the National League honour.
July 2011: Halladay makes his first visit to Toronto as a member of the opposition sporting a 10-3 record, 2.40 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, with five complete games and 123 strikeouts in 127 IP.
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