Roy Halladay was dealing once again, throwing eight innings of two-hit, shutout ball on the road versus the Washington Nationals. Well over the 100-pitch mark, he was laboring in the ninth. The Nats had narrowed the deficit to 3-1 and had runners on first and third with just one out.
Skipper Charlie Manuel walked to the mound, and almost any other pitcher in Major League Baseball would get a pat-on-the-back and an ovation—if they made it to the ninth in the first place. Per Paul Hagen of the Philadelphia Daily News (quoting Manuel), the conversation between manager and ace pitcher went like this:
Manuel: "Well, Roy, here I am."
Halladay: "I've got 'em. I've got 'em."
Manuel: "OK, you've got 'em, then."
As manager-pitcher conversations have always been protected by some form of doctor-client (Doc-client, in this case?) privilege, we'll have to take Charlie at his word. And yes, I prefer to think that this is all that the no-nonsense Halladay uttered.
Doc goes back to the hill, and yields an infield hit, which cuts the lead to one and places runners on first and second—still with one down. Adding to his legend, what does Halladay do?
He strikes out one-time Phillies-hero Matt Stairs looking, and then rings up surefire Hall-of-Famer Ivan Rodriguez with yet another Backwards K.
The game-ending strikeout means three things:
1. The Phillies win again, and now sit at an impressive 8-3.
2. Halladay runs his record to 2-0, with a low, low ERA of 1.23.
3. "I've got 'em. I've got 'em." becomes an instant Philly sports quote
Where Will This Quote Rank in Phillies Sports Lore?
Only time will tell as to whether Doc's quote will be remembered years down the road, but his terse, ultra-confident statement and the way he backed it up with two called strikeouts may well end up being the stuff of local legend.
Indeed, it may one day take its place next to Ryan Howard's "Get me to the plate, boys", which the big man lived up to with a two-out, two run, game-tying double in the bottom of the ninth. Of course, both the line and the line drive were delivered in Game Four of the NLDS in Colorado.
So, RH-2, if you will, may not quite make it to the level of RH-1, but it sure beats other recent quotes with more pejorative connotations, such as "They're fair-weather fans" or the iconic "We're a small market franchise."
Adding to the Nickname for Our Starting Rotation
In September, 2010, and in this very space, I was brainstorming nicknames for the Phillies three-headed monster, and ended up proposing H20. The nickname went a little viral, even if only some of that virus accompanied that piece.
When Cliff Lee, shocking-Lee and joyful-Lee returned to South Philly, I was among those who proposed (and advocated) R2C2 for the rotation of Halladay, Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels.
Some other nicknames have joined the discussion, including variants of Mound Rushmore, the Fab Four (or Phab Phour) and the Four Aces. For my money, none are as catchy as H20, but I'm not going to advocate getting rid of Cliff Lee.
Still, the Four Aces (I've never been a "phan" of overusing the Ph) is a good name, but it seems about time that we define the aces a little more.
Admittedly, I'm not a bridge player, and don't care for watching poker on TV, playing it with friends or doing so online. But in most people's minds, the Ace of Spades carries the most weight, so let's go to it.
Roy Halladay: The Ace of Spades
Many, including yours truly, have referred to Doc as the Ace of Aces, and he certainly is—among the Phillies, and among all great pitchers in MLB.
Hence, Halladay takes his rightful place as the Ace of Spades: dark, serious and just a little menacing
Cliff Lee: The Ace of Hearts
Lee won the hearts of Phillies fans in a few short months in 2009, forever earning the town’s love with his two wins versus the Yankees in the 2009 World Series, punctuated by his behind-the-back stab and his ho-hum, yawning catch of a weak pop-up.
Philly’s heart was broken when its newest sports hero was traded to Seattle last year, but they loved him even more when he spurned the Yankees' mega-dollar deal to pitch for the Phillies and their ultra-sensitive fans.
The man from Arkansas is clearly the Ace of Hearts
Roy Oswalt: The Ace of Clubs
For many years, Oswalt was the lone ace for the Houston Astros, but he has pitched quite well since coming here.
Oswalt is a man of few words, but (a la Big Roy Halladay) lets his play do the talking for him. Given his big stick mentality and the fact that he starred for another ballclub, Little Roy looks just fine as the Ace of Clubs.
Cole Hamels: The Ace of Diamonds
A diamond is a high-priced commodity, which can be quite brilliant, or somewhat flawed.
Hamels, sometimes known as Hollywood, has just a little of that blue-blooded, snooty appearance, which belies how fierce of a competitor he is.
And despite a somewhat flawed 2009 season, Hamels has mostly shined brilliantly in his tenure here.
The Ace of Diamonds is a good fit for Cole. King Cole? Nah...
As for Joe Blanton, an excellent No. 5 starter despite two straight rough outings, I'm thinking it over. Jack of Clubs doesn't quite do it for me.
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