Take a long look at this photo of Philadelphia Phillies pitcher, Roy Halladay. It’s not likely you’ll see an image of him smiling and relaxed in a Phillies uniform for some time, if ever again.
His days as a starting pitcher for the Phillies are as good as over. His no-surprise announcement that he has pain in his shoulder comes as much of a revelation as admitting the Phillies have trouble scoring runs. Duh.
However, don’t be misled. This isn’t nor has it ever been about Halladay’s physical condition. There should be no confusion as to the source of his discomfort.
Halladay is stressed because his time as an ace pitcher is over. Like most professional athletes who have reached the end of their careers, he doesn’t want to face the inevitable. There will be no more Cy Young awards, no 20-win seasons, no hero-like worship from fans.
Of course the doctors will find something wrong with his shoulder. It’s what they’re paid to do. That should come as no surprise either. The Phillies, likewise, will maintain a supportive stance until it becomes obvious that there’s nothing to support.
As the Phillies begin a critical West coast road trip, the white flags are already being waved from Reuben Amaro, Jr. and Charlie Manuel as they slowly and ever so gently let fans know that this may not be the season everyone hoped for. Double Duh.
In the coming weeks, that news will be carefully managed in an effort to maintain a reasonable level of attendance at Citizen’s Bank Park. As always, this is about losing money — a lot of it. Not long from now, the word “rebuilding” will become laced throughout interviews with Amaro and Manuel. Players dismissed to the Minor Leagues earlier this Spring will suddenly become big-league worthy.
It’s time to strip this team and begin to establish a foundation of excellence that isn’t built on buying success. That’s a strategy that won’t last, as evidenced by the current situation. Instead, the Phillies need to commit to the laborious and painstaking process of developing young players.
Sorry fans. There is no magic wand to wave this time around. Any solutions that hint of throwing more money at the problem should be soundly rejected.
Halladay is the first crack in the dike. It may become a flood before it’s fixed.