I missed all of the first day of the playoffs at work, which is a shame because it was a great day. In particular, it is amazing that Roy Halladay threw a no-hitter, the first in the postseason since Don Larsen's perfect game in 1956. It also happened to be Halladay's first postseason start, and his second no-hitter of the season.
My first thought was "wow." Doesn't yesterday's start put Roy Halladay in the Hall of Fame? I think his case has been growing, but a perfect game and no-hitter in the same season? A good chance that he will win a second Cy Young this year, and if he does, have Cy Young awards in both leagues?
To be clear, I don't think Roy Hallday's no-hitter yesterday put him in the Hall of Fame all by itself. It's the no-hitter with the body of work Halladay has already accumulated that I think stamped his ticket to Cooperstown. He was heading towards the Hall, and as with any trip, at some point you arrive. I think we just saw Doc's arrival.
My second thought was that I've never been happier to see a prohibitive favorite dominate a game. I love underdogs. They are part of why I love sports. I love it when a plan doesn't come together.
However, there is something so right about Roy Halladay dominating. He is a great pitcher, and more than that, a consumate professional. Halladay just takes the ball and does his job to the absolute best of his ability. He seems to rarely talk because he is too busy doing work. I want to watch baseball players as good as Roy Halladay handle themselves like Roy Halladay. There is something right with the baseball universe when everything comes together like it did last night.
My third thought was about King Felix. One knock on Felix's Cy Young candidacy is that he did not pitch with the pressure of a pennant race like David Price and CC Sabathia did.
However, Roy Halladay had never pitched with that kind of pressure, but did it change his performance? Not really. If anything, it got better. Another Phillie last year, Cliff Lee, was very similar. Playoff pressure didn't do anything to him, even though it was new to him. It's clear that their talent had more to do with their performance than the context.
I am sure playoff baseball feels way different than games that don't matter on a losing team, but I am also sure that great players want to win no matter the circumstance. I think their desire to win trumps the circumstance, which I think helps explain why their performance doesn't seem to waiver a ton no matter the pressure.
This is all to say that I think it's silly to suggest that Felix would have pitched differently (and especially worse) in a pennant race. Anecdotal evidence suggests it is not true.
But back to Roy Halladay. Dang he is good, and finally he gets a chance to show what he's got under the brightest lights.