As Carlos Ruiz made from his knees a throw more difficult than he’d lead you to believe, as Ryan Howard (a colossus not necessarily known for his defensive prowess) gathered his hulking body with as much agility as possible to receive it, as more than 46,000 of the nation’s most passionate fans tensed, their hands locked in prayer and breathless, one man stood stoic to the scene. It’s this heroic calm--the placidity of an ocean that knows it can eat any ship man dares sail across it--that separates Roy Halladay from his peers. That, and his preternatural ability to throw pitches in such a way that they consistently find the strike zone but hardly ever much lumber, of course.
It was just before Christmas of 2009 that the Phillies aquired the 6’6” right-hander affectionately known as “Doc” from the Toronto Blue Jays in a blockbuster, and quite sensational, trade sequence. Though not technically a part of the Halladay deal, the defending National League Champions also swapped playoff hero Cliff Lee to the Seattle Mariners in tandem with the Halladay move. The debate over the wisdom of that Lee trade was heated in the City of Brotherly Love, though general manager Ruben Amaro stifled the flame by recently signing the free agent left-hander out from under the heavily-favored landing spot of New York.
From the outset- a warm Spring day on which Philadelphia’s “Red Army” invaded Washington and turned the nation’s capital into a capital-sized Citizens Bank Park tailgate- Halladay dominated. He finished the season with 211 wins (Editor’s Note: Halladay actually won 21 games, it just felt like 211), threw a perfect game against the Florida Marlins on May 29, and won a Cy Young award in his first season on the Senior Circuit. It was as impressive of an introductory campaign as the Philadelphia organization and Halladay could have hoped for, only to know Halladay- his work ethic, his attention to detail, his ceaseless pursuit of perfection (pardon the pun)- is to understand that he wouldn’t have expected, in as ego-less a manner as possible, any less.
Come October, as Ruiz’s throw landed securely in Howard’s glove, a step ahead of Brandon Phillips, Halladay coolly watching on, the procession marched on. Started in Winter, ended in Autumn, four seasons paced (did we mention that he bought his teammates and Phillies staff extravagant Baume & Mercier watches to thank them for his perfect game?) by the clockwork brilliance of Halladay. And that’s why Doc is our 2010 Person of the Year.