Blue Jays 4, Cardinals 1: Hope Can Set You Free

Tuesday, June 14 2005 @ 08:19 AM EDT

Contributed by: Rob

I know, you're all thinking, "Aw, it's a Rob Game Report again. I'm getting sick of these Game Score Charts. What else is on the Internet?"

Not so fast. It's another Pinch-Hit Game Report.

That's right, we're slackers. Though perhaps nobody is a bigger slacker than the man behind today's Game Report...

...Jobu! It's not his debut, that was about two months ago (you can find it here, featuring the "Saarloos-er" and an odd obsession with Corey Feldman), so we should expect something more from him.

And what do you know? He stepped it up. Today's Game Report is a story about Roy Halladay and it is filled with hope.

Hope is a good thing, after all. And no good thing ever dies.


After the game I went to the pub. Got home around 1. Have to get up MUCH earlier tomorrow than I'm used too. If you're expecting brilliant analysis, you must also be expecting the comeback of Corey Haim. If battersbox is an "interactive magazine" consider me the guy who does the comics on the back page. Without further ado, I present Fun With Screencaps Volume 1:

Welcome to Redemption Ballpark.

This is the place where all ballplayers go when they've been taken down a peg or ten on the journey to baseball greatness.

This is where our hero, Roy Halladay finds himself. Still coming to terms with his loss in Houston, the total abandonment of this team's bats and support. Simply put, the system failed him and it wasn't the first time he found himself in Redemption Ballpark.

It was here that Roy found another victim of the system, Mr. Dave Bush. Banished to the minors for seemingly nothing more than lack of run support, he was desensitized to the system, but Roy wouldn't let himself become like that.

Roy knew a lot of stories about the Redemption Ballpark. He knew how he worked his way through it once when he lost his stuff. He knew about Ted Lilly. Stubborn, Cocky, Impossible to Coach. He took a shine to him right away.

But Ted went hard to Redemption Park at the start of the season. The year after an all star appearance he was putting up ERA's higher than his fastball. Something wasn't working and Teddy would never turn to the system for help, so he went right to Roy personally.
Ted Lilly: I don't pitch so good.
Roy Halladay: So *well*.
Roy Halladay: We'll get to that.

Roy taught him all he could about location, patience, and timing. And it was starting to look good for Ted. He got a C+ average on his next two starts and looked like he won everyone's respect back. But right when it was so close, a tough road trip stopped Ted again.

Roy also remembers his old friend Crash

He fought his way back from injury, back to the promised land. the big leagues. But when he got there he saw it had all passed him by while he was away. Soon they told him they wanted him to ride those minor league buses again.

Crash just wouldn't have it and decided to call it a career. He wrote a note to his old friend Doc first:

Dear fellas, I can't believe how fast pitches move in the big leagues now. I saw performance enhancers once when I was a kid but now they're everywhere. The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry.REAL big. The owners got me into this halfway house called "The Minors". And a job where I'm supposed to show young kids the ropes. It's hard work and I try to keep up but my hands hurt most of the time. I don't think the bench manager likes me very much. Sometimes after work I go to the park and feed the birds. I keep thinking JP might just show up and say hello. But he never does. I hope wherever he is he's ok and makin' new catchers. I have trouble sleepin' at night. I have bad dreams like I'm falling rounding third. I wake up scared. Sometimes it takes me a while to remember where I am. Maybe I should get me a bat, and learn to hit again so they'd send me home. I guess I'm too old for that sort of nonsense anymore. I don't like it here. I'm tired of being afraid all the time. I've decided not to stay. I doubt they'll kick up any fuss. Not for an old catcher like me.

The carving "CRASH WAS HERE" above his locker was all that was left.

Roy knew the ballpark, and he knew it well. It was a place he did not want to be. A place he desperately wanted to leave and knew that he would someday. when he was vindicated. He held that hope. Even when the grizzled Bush would tell him that hoping for your teammates to come through is dangerous thing, Roy always told him "Hope for a two run lead is a good thing, possibly the best thing. And no good thing ever dies". He would share with Bush his own story many times over. "You know, when I first got to bigs, my fastball was straight as an arrow, wouldn't hurt a batter. I had to go to the minors.. To learn how to be a major league pitcher"

Now the time had come for Roy. This was his chance to get out of the ballpark, but it wasn't going to be easy as the Cardinals came to town, lead by their manager Tony LaRussa who would do anything to stop Roy.

"I believe in two things: discipline and the LOOGY. Here you'll receive both. Put your trust in the Cal Eldred; your ass belongs to me. Make way for St. Louis."

Tony had his minion Jeff Suppan with him, and he made it clear that his only job was to break Roy's hope. that the two run lead would never come. And Jeff had his own nasty ways to keep Jays hitters down

After the Cards lined up for the anthems

the game was off and running and right from the start a remarkable thing happened... Roy was mowing down hitters like he couldn't be touched, like a man strolling through a park without a care in the world. Roy got his hopeful lead and the Cardinals wouldn't get to him somehow. Albert Pujols took an interest in him right away, new meat for his bat, wanted to keep the whole league fearful of him. It would be tough for Roy.

I wish I could tell you that Roy fought the good fight, got the shutout, and the Cardinals let him be. I wish I could tell you that - but baseball is no fairy-tale world. He never said who did it, but we all knew. It was John Mabry. Solo home run in the 4th.

Two things never happened again after that. The Cardinals never laid a finger on Roy again... and Pujols never walked again. nor were any of the Cardinals walked by Roy. But Roy made an example of Pujols, with a crippling 0-4 for him to remember that night.

Suppan only last 7 innings and gave up 8 hits within them. I wasn't there to see it but I hear Jeff Suppan started sobbing like a little girl when they took him away from the mound.

LaRussa was defeated that night. And I like to think the last thing that went though his head, before he went to sleep, was "how the hell did Roy Halladay and the .500 Blue Jays get the better of him?".

Roy left behind a note for Bush under home plate in Syracuse. Telling him about that Hope for some run support, and how off-speed can be a very good thing. Most of all he hoped Bush would join him again one day. on the outside. in the big leagues when he was paroled from AAA. Doc told him exactly where to find him.

Doc crawled to freedom through sixty feet and six inches of shit smelling foulness I can't even imagine, or maybe I just don't want to. 60.5 feet... that's the length of 0.20166666666666666666666666666667 football fields, just shy of 11/480 of a mile. On the night of June 13th, Roy Halladay finally found his REDEMPTION


Many thanks, Jobu. See you in Zihuatanejo.