October 01, 2009

Celebrating Excellence

One day, I will tell my unborn children about the legend that is Harry Leroy Halladay III. They will learn how Doc dominated baseball's toughest division, throwing complete game after complete game, while forever protecting the honour of his teammates.

Thanks to a ball aimed at the bulbous David Ortiz, with Boston having clinched a playoff spot, and the Toronto Blue Jays once again playing out the stretch, the legend of Doc grew to larger than life proportions on a chilly autumn night in September. No matter the standings, and no matter the score, Roy Halladay will let no one, especially not Jonathan Papelbon, take advantage of his team.

The incredible irony of it all: it went down in what might have been Halladay's final start as a Toronto Blue Jay. Poetic, no? Doc could have been ejected, but it certainly didn't matter to him.

If it was goodbye, Doc ended the Toronto chapter of his career the only way he possibly could have: with a complete game shutout in Fenway Park. And that's how I'll remember him. As the man who brought the Evil Empires to their knees.

We all thought we couldn't possibly respect, adore, and appreciate Roy Halladay any more than we already did. We were wrong.

I’ve said my piece about Mats Sundin. Over and over and over and over again. I also said goodbye, back in February.

So it was with less of a heavy heart than expected that I learned that Sundin had officially hung up his skates for good.

First: relief. There will be no repeat of last year’s “will he or won’t he?” fiasco.

Second: rage. The garbage spewn about on Twitter after Sundin’s announcement is not worth linking to. It only reaffirms the fact that there are a legion of so-called Leafs fans whom I want absolutely nothing to do with. If you chose the day Sundin officially left the game as yet another day to bash him, you’ll never fully grasp what he accomplished as a Toronto Maple Leaf. (Read: You're an idiot.)

Finally: adulation. I felt, and still feel, the urge to scale Toronto’s highest building and yell at the top of my lungs: “Mats Sundin: Greatest Maple Leaf of All-Time!!!!1” I'm thinking my balcony will be suffice.

Many great men – Wendel Clark and Doug Gilmour in particular – have worn the “C” in Toronto. Sundin was better than both of them, and he will always be my captain.

Thanks for the memories, Mats.


William said...

Halladay was awesome. Inspiring. Sensational. And for the Blue Jays to score thirty runs in three games against the supposed beast of Boston despite having Kevin Millar stuck in the middle of the lineup, was amazing. A nice way to end the season.

I'm gonna miss this site after the baseball season.

Scott said...

Watching Halladay drill Ortiz was a decent consolation for the season. Fuck Papelbon, no really, FUCK HIM.

Mats made the right decision, one day Leaf fans everywhere will appreciate how great he was. Gonna miss him, for sure.

Hungry Leafs Fan said...

Doc is king! With his win yesterday, he has a winning record against every team in the AL. Talk about a BEAST.

Sundin is without a doubt the greatest Leaf of all time. Unfortunate that some people will never fully appreciate him.

Daoust said...

When I told my wife that Sundin officially retired yesterday, she asked “are you OK?”. I’m still not sure. But I am sure that he’ll always be my favorite leaf, my favourite hockey player, my captain. Thanks for everything Mats.

500 FUCKING GOALS as a leaf. Think about that. Everyone’s all pumped up for kessel or maybe kadri, but consider this – they’ll have to have 16+ 30 goal seasons to achieve that; 14+ 35-goal seasons, 12+ 40 goal seasons, or 10 50-goal seasons. Ridiculous.

I’ve begun mapping out my plans for the ultimate Sundin spreadsheet / database. It’ll probably take a couple months to pull together all the info, but when I’m done I hope it will be the definitive document of Sundin’s greatness. Given our shared admiration (ok, love) of Mats, I’ll send you working drafts so you can help ensure I get it right.

Enjoy the game tonight dude.

sarah said...

Ditto the above, I also received a few "are you okay?" texts yesterday, to which my first instinct was invariably to start crying and yell "NO!! Nothing is okay and nothing will ever be okay again!" But then my second thought would kick in and I would let it slide with a "thanks for asking" and a private thought about going home and sleeping in a Sundin shirt.

And I think my thoughts about Roy Halladay have been very clear to date, but I will never get tired of mentioning just how much I love him.

Bitey said...

My favourite Sundin game always gets lost in the shuffle, mainly because they lost the game and, eventually, the series, but it was game 2 of the Devils series in '01.

The way he put that team on his back in the 3rd period and dragged them into overtime was amazing. Unfortunately, they couldn't pull out the win, and the fact that they had a shitty 2nd period still bugs me today. Knowing that, if the rest of the series goes the same, they'd beat the Devils and would have had a good shot at beating the Pens in the conference finals.

The Doc stuff is bang on, too. Fucking awesome.

LeafFanInVan said...

I'm gonna miss Mats terribly. I had really hoped he would be back again for one more go around in the blue and white (no green), but I knew that wasn't going to be.

Thanks for the good times Mats, and enjoy retirement! See ya at your HHoF induction!

eyebleaf said...

@ William: "Halladay was awesome. Inspiring. Sensational." Yes, yes, and yes. And I almost forgot about Millar playing every game; playing 3B. Crazy. And don't worry, this is shaping up to be one of the most intriguing off-seasons in recent history for the Jays, so you won't be missing me.

@ Scott: You're right about Papeldouche, and Sundin.

@ Hungry: Years later, when we see what Doc was able to accomplish in the AL East, we'll truly appreciate him.

@ Daoust: You are my Sundin comrade. "my favourite Leaf. My favourite hockey player, my captain." Amen to all of that.

500 FUCKING GOALS as a leaf. Think about that. Everyone’s all pumped up for kessel or maybe kadri, but consider this – they’ll have to have 16+ 30 goal seasons to achieve that; 14+ 35-goal seasons, 12+ 40 goal seasons, or 10 50-goal seasons. Ridiculous.

I love it when you break it down like that. And I hope you'll keep me involved in the spreadsheet/database.

@ Sarah: I know exactly what you're going through. I may or may not have slept in my Mats jersey last night. And your public loving of Doc is a beautiful thing. Don't ever stop.

@ Bitey: Dude. I remember that game vividly. I remember Sundin's face after one of the goals to close the gap; the intensity. He started that 3rd period with a shorty, and took the team on his back from there. I'll never forget that look on his face in one of the goal hugs. That's when I knew that he was a warrior, a leader, and that anyone who questioned his desire to win, or his ability to lead, was an idiot.

@ LFIV: Long time, mate. Hope all's well. At the very least, I was hoping Mats would sign a one-day contract with Toronto, and retire a Leaf. That would have been sweet.

Aquamelli said...

and goodbye Mr. J.P. Ricciardi