My Sportsman: Roy Halladay
Roy Halladay went 21-10 with a 2.44 ERA and led the majors in complete games
His day-in, day-out professionalism draws praise from teammates
The Phillies' ace is the absolute model for what a pro athlete should be
Sports Illustrated will announce its choice for Sportsman of the Year on Nov. 29. Here's one of the nominations for that honor by an SI writer.
Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay could be my Sportsman of the Year because he came to one of the country's most discerning sports towns at the beginning of the season, replacing an extremely popular and talented guy (Cliff Lee) at the top of the rotation, and rarely disappointed. But that's not the main reason I picked him.
Halladay could be my Sportsman because, day after day, week after week, month after month, he set a standard of preparation and performance for the Phillies that was mentioned by several teammates at some point during the season.
"Roy gets there at 5:30 in the morning," fellow starter Cole Hamels said of Halladay, whose take-care-of-business tone began in spring training. "That means he's up at 4:30. That's the personality he has and he's had success with it."
But that's not the main reason either.
Halladay could be my Sportsman because he went 21-10 with a 2.44 ERA, led the majors in complete games (nine), shutouts (four) and total innings (250 2/3), threw a perfect game in May and a near-perfect (one walk) no-hitter in the National League playoffs. But that's not the main reason either.
Halladay could be my Sportsman because, without his best stuff and nursing a groin pull that he (naturally) didn't say anything about, he gritted his way through six tough innings in a do-or-die Game 5 against the San Francisco Giants on the road in the National League Championship Series. But that's not the main reason either.
No, the main reason I picked him is that Halladay turned down David Letterman.
Right after his Oct. 6 no-no in the Phils' 4-0 Game 1 playoff win against the offensive-minded Cincinnati Reds, the "Late Night" host wanted Halladay to sit down next to him. That's a no-brainer acceptance for most athletes, especially for a pitcher whose services wouldn't be needed for a few days. But Halladay gave the counterintuitive no thank you (as he did to interview requests from CNN and the CBS Morning News), both because he didn't want to upstage his teammates at a crucial time in the postseason and didn't want to miss a birthday party for his six-year-old son Ryan.
Sportsman awards frequently go to the performer who wins it all. That makes sense in many cases. But I looked past the fact that the favored Phils fell short against the Giants and saw a player who, in talent and temperament, is the absolute model for what a pro athlete should be. "He's incredibly humble," says Phils outfielder Shane Victorino. "With him, the team truly comes first."
So for right now I'll take the guy who couldn't quite get his team to the finish line, and I'll also take the early line that he leads them to that final step in 2011.
Agree with this selection? Tell us your Sportsman pick here.