Thursday, October 6, 2011

On Halladay

We were sitting in the upper deck of Target Field on October 6, 2010, waiting for the first pitch of the first playoff game between the Twins and Yankees. While I was trying to convince myself that Francisco Liriano could outpitch C.C. Sabathia, the normal pregame banter that shows up on the scoreboard was removed. In its place was the television feed of another playoff game, the one between Philadelphia and Cincinnati. It didn't take long to figure out what was going on: Roy Halladay was one inning away from a no-hitter, and they were putting it up on the big screen so everybody could watch.

Halladay got the first two outs of the ninth on popups while I was trying to figure out how close he was to a perfect game. (The answer: very. A fifth-inning walk was his only blemesh). As Brandon Phillips stepped up to the plate for the Reds, Cincinnati's last hope, everybody was watching, even the Yankees who were supposed to be taking batting practice. Everybody knew this was a moment not to be missed. Not wanting to mess up history, Phillips hit a weak tapper in front of the plate - he could have bunted the ball farther. Carlos Ruiz picked it up and fired to first, and baseball had its second ever postseason no-hitter.

It was a cool moment. It's one thing to be able to watch a no-hitter. It's something completely different to share that experience with a stadium full of fans already buzzing with excitement, to look down and see Major League players applauding one of their own. But as I was reveling in the moment, I ruined my good mood for a moment by being nerdy and thinking about my blog. I wasn't thinking how I would write about this, but rather I was fretting about what day it was. See, that happened on October 6. Exactly one year after this.

Great. I was so excited to be able to include one of the greatest Twins games ever on my countdown of greatest sports moments by day. I loved the synergy that the Twins first playoff game in Target Field came exactly one year after their last, and most incredible, regular season game in the Metrodome. And now stupid Roy Halladay had ruined it by going and throwing a stupid no-hitter in his stupid first career postseason start. It was stupid.

But I shook myself out of my thoughts. I swore I'd enjoy this moment. After all, I had a year to decide whether Halladay's game would actually replace Game 163 on my countdown. I wouldn't have to worry. Instead, I could sit back and enjoy a Twins playoff game.

Well, it's been a year. I've spent some time thinking about this, but I'm paranoid it wasn't enough. I'm still torn. Halladay threw a postseason no-hitter, one of the greatest moments in baseball history. That has to be the best thing that's ever happened in sports on October 6, right? Then again, Twins-Tigers was one of the single greatest games ever played. People were still talking about the entire next season. Hell, people are still talking about it. So why should I bump it off the spot?

Then I got to thinking, well, if I leave that Twins game on there, I'll be accused of being an incurable homer. I want to be seen as a person with legitimate sports opinions, someone who can be trusted to opine on all teams, not just Minnesota ones. I want to be appropriately neutral. So I didn't know what to do.

Then I got to thinking some more. I write a blog. Bloggers are rarely, if ever neutral. Also, I write a blog that, quite frankly, very few people read. Those that do read it know me, and know I'm an unapologetic homer for all Minnesota teams. If anything, they'd expect me to leave Game 163 where it is. So that's what I'm going to do. No apologies.

And besides, that's not really the point. I'm a sports fan because of the memories created, about the moments that stand out over time. I'm a sports fan because of the days you can be watching a random game in the middle of the week and see something that moves you, something you'll never forget.

I'll always remember sitting - or standing, or pacing - in my basement on October 6, 2009, watching Game 163. And I'll always remember sitting in the upper deck on the third base side in Target Field on October 6, 2010, watching Roy Halladay finish off his no-hitter. It doesn't matter game which was better or more memorable. What matters is the memories that were made.

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