Roy Halladay, a man obsessed with perfection, finally reached his goal last Saturday. The record will show he recorded 27 consecutive outs on 115 pitches, with eight groundouts, eight fly ball outs and 11 strikeouts.
Aperfect game for a perfect pitcher. What the record will not show is all of those winter mornings at the Phillies complex in Clearwater, Fla., at 5:30 — long before the arrival of his teammates and most of the stadium personnel. What it also won’t show is the four-hour workouts, the meticulous film study, the life regimen that never wavers, never allows for exception.
It remains to be seen whether Roy Halladay will be considered the greatest pitcher in Phillies history, but there should be no debate now that he is the closest to perfection. On the field, he is a model of decorum, even when the umpire loses the strike zone and alters Halladay’s carefully calibrated world.
Off the field, he is a quiet family man with a passion for helping underprivileged children.
In other words, he is about as close to perfect as a human being can get. We have already seen how he handles adversity, and there is no reason for criticism there, either. After a 132-pitch loss to Pittsburgh, Halladay never questioned Charlie Manuel, nor did he blame the manager upon getting clobbered in his next start against Boston.
When a pitcher comes along like Roy Halladay, we all need to study him carefully because he is the standard against which all great players should be measured. It was fitting that the pitcher performed his masterpiece in the presence of Hanley Ramirez, the anti-Halladay — a lazy, pompous superstar who has no respect for the game.
Halladay doesn’t possess the physical gifts of a Hanley Ramirez, but he has something more important. He has a will to succeed that compensates for his lack of a blistering fastball or a knee-buckling splitter. Halladay’s work on a baseball field is more art than science, a series of psychological skirmishes with the batter. On Saturday night, he won all 27 of those.
After the game, Halladay thanked his teammates, coaches and fans in Florida. Of course, a party broke out in the clubhouse to honor the 20th perfect game in history and the second ever for the Phillies. Players were toasting the event and reliving some of the highlights of a game they’ll never forget.
But someone was missing. Halladay was gone, immersed in his postgame ritual of working out and preparing for the next challenge. For a man obsessed with perfection, it was the perfect ending.
– Angelo Cataldi is host of 610 WIP’s Morning Show, which airs weekdays from 5:30-10 a.m.
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