I wasn’t around for the first out, but I wouldn’t miss the last three for anything in the world.
In fact, I was prepared to put up with a digital, pitch-by-pitch re-enactment until the Phillies’ website went to live video of it for free.
Not bad for today’s “make you pay” society. The only thing it cost me was the long distance charges to call home and give my dad the play-by-play.
It had been nearly 12 years since you had carried something with that many zeros that late into a ball game successfully. Back in 1998, Bobby Higginson was the only thing that stood between you and baseball immortality.
That day Higginson won, but now you’re getting the last laugh. And with more zeros too.
But, while I was a heart-broken little kid at that baseball game, over a decade later it just looks like the baseball Gods were making you wait for your finest moment—that instead of being another one-off or one-hit-wonder to throw a no-hitter, they wanted to make sure you were worthy of your place in history.
And boy, are you.
You rebuilt yourself from the lowest of the low, re-energized yourself, re-discovered your style, and built a stronger body and mind. While others flail about on the mound with an outward fire, you’ve got the most devastating stuff in the league, and in a uniform change you’d be mistaken for a mailman.
A really serious mailman that never smiles, but a mailman nonetheless.
For years, you were the best-kept secret.
The saying went “Chicks dig the long ball.” Canadians dug pitching. Good pitching. The best.
For a few years the Toronto Blue Jays tried to do everything they could to help you compete. They bought you your No. 2 starter, but instead of him helping you, you molded him in your image, helping him to become a World Champion.
They tried to give you more offense, they kept some of your oldest friends around, and they even tried to find you a shortstop. But nothing worked for the Jays. They still couldn’t get over the hump.
You didn’t say anything. You just kept pitching. Complete games day in, day out. Doing your job and helping this team win one game (often the only game) at a time.
It took JP Ricciardi coming out publicly with your feelings to know that we might not lose you to free agency—that a trade was a real possibility. A possibility that was in your best interest.
In a hockey-crazed city, you were the storyline. In arrival, in assumed departure, in actual departure, and even know, your name is still one of the most popular in this country.
You were nice, loyal and consistent. Because of that, we just want you to succeed.
The Perfect Game was karma.
It was the universe saying “This is for all of those years, where you were what every professional athlete should be. Where you were a savior to a franchise that didn’t deserve you because they couldn’t get you what you go to spring training three weeks early for.
"This is for giving back to the community constantly and being the perfect teammate. This is for that full page letter you wrote to the City of Toronto and the Jays in thanks.”
And this….well it may only be the beginning. You may finally get that ring one day.
Imagine if that happened this year. How's that for karmic retribution?
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