* Not that it’s much different from that of anyone else, but I’m guessing a lot of people in the country didn’t know much about Roy Halladay before his no-hitter Wednesday night in Game 1 for the Philadelphia Phillies against the Cincinnati Reds in the NLDS.
I’m guessing, even, that a lot of baseball fans didn’t know much about Halladay. Why? He had pitched in the big leagues for 11 seasons before being traded to the Phillies during the offseason. He has always been an outstanding pitcher. The reason Halladay, who made his first postseason appearance Wednesday, isn’t well known is because he spent his first 11 years in Toronto, where baseball is just a rumor.
I know, the Blue Jays have a couple of world championships. I appreciate what they were back in the day. But in this day, Toronto is an afterthought, even when it is fairly competitive. That’s because it’s the only MLB franchise in Canada and because the Blue Jays are overwhelmed in their own division – the AL East – by New York, Boston and Tampa Bay.
So Halladay not only made his postseason debut Wednesday, he made his debut in front of hundreds of thousands of baseball “fans” who don’t really follow the game until the postseason.
Here’s an interesting statistic on Halladay. While in Toronto, he had superb 148-76 record, a .661 winning percentage. Overall in Halladay’s stay, the Blue Jays were 889-892, a .499 winning percentage. So, in games in which Halladay didn’t figure in the decision, Toronto was 741-816. a .476 winning percentage.
What a difference. And what a pitcher. It will be fascinating to see how Halladay pitches in his second postseason game. Can he be even better? Don’t laugh, he did walk Cincinnati’s Jay Bruce in Game 1; Bruce was the Reds’ only baserunner.
The Cincy hitters were completely overmatched against Halladay and the Reds were the best-hitting team in baseball this season.
I’m happy to see Halladay finally getting his due.
* I came up early – really, really early – for tonight’s Kansas State-Nebraska game at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
What an atmosphere.
I spent some time tail-gating with friends, which for me amounts to an abnormal amount of human interaction. But it was fun and, believe me, the people here – both KSU and Nebraska fans – are ready for this one. As always, there are a ton of Huskers fans here and they’re not shy.
Anyway, while I was in the lot, I saw a group of skydivers from Fort Benning (Ga.) who were preparing to deliver Thursday night’s game ball after jumping from a plan flying over the stadium. I asked if they needed any help and was politely declined.
I love skydivers at sporting events, although I always get a bit dizzy when I look up to try and find them. Anyway, as I type this, we’re a few minutes away from the guys drifting down to mid-field for the meeting of the captains and the presentation of the game ball. But I was able to snap a picture of the crew, which last jumped at the Alabama-Arkansas game a couple of weeks ago and will be at a Chiefs game later this season.
A sportswriter’s memories
Since I’m in Manhattan covering a Kansas State game, why not talk about former KSU quarterback Michael Bishop, still the most exciting college football player I’ve covered. No offense, Darren Sproles. You were exciting. But you didn’t have the ball in your hands on every play, the way Bishop did.
Bishop was electrifying and, at times, mystifying. He could do anything on a football field, good or bad. As much as K-Staters remember the good things, they’ll never forget about Bishop’s fumble late in the Big 12 championship game against Texas A&M in 1998 that cost K-State a chance to win a national championship.
But for every fumble or ill-timed interception, Bishop did something incredible. He was a true two-way threat thanks to a rifle arm and an uncanny ability to tuck the ball and run. He was Michael Vick before Michael Vick, but it never worked for Bishop, who got a chance in the NFL with the New England Patriots after being a seventh-round pick.
Bishop ultimately found a nice career in the Canadian Football League and I talked to him last year for a column. He sounded content and happy and talked a lot about how much he valued his experience at Kansas State. We valued it too.