On the day that Roy Halladay decided to hang 'em up, he said, ironically, he wants to be remembered for not quitting.
After a 16-year career -- the final four which he spent with the Phillies -- in which he was the game's most dominant pitcher for a decade, finally retiring on Monday was not quite quitting. Halladay battled to the very end -- perhaps a bit too long.
From 2002-11, Doc led all starting pitchers in wins (170), innings (2194.2), K/BB (4.57), WAR (60.9) and complete games (63). His ERA (2.97) and WHIP (1.111) trailed only Johan Santana, who spent the same time period pitching in more pitcher-friendly parks like the Metrodome and Citi Field.
Then, from 2012-13, the decline began -- rapidly. Over two years, he went 15-13 with a 5.15 ERA, 2.54 K/BB, 0.0 WAR, one complete game and 1.292 WHIP.
"It was more steady than people knew," Halladay admitted at his press conference, at which he retired as a member of the Blue Jays (although a Phillies hat sat perched on the table as well).
"There were times in the seasons before where later in the game it would be a challenge. ... Things were starting to change a little bit. The frustrating part was in the past through working out, research, talking to the trainers, I found a way to work through those things."
Although it was a shoulder issue that led to several stints on the DL, it was really a pinched nerve in his back, he admitted, that caused him to overcompensate with his shoulder -- which led to the injuries.
"It feels as good as it ever has," Halladay said of his shoulder. "Unfortunately I can't get 'em out. But it feels good."
Although he spent the majority of his career in Toronto, Halladay's best years undoubtedly came in Philadelphia, where he went 40-16 with a 2.40 ERA, 17 complete games, five shutouts, 1.041 WHIP, 6.75 K/BB, a perfect game, a postseason no-hitter and a Cy Young award.
"As much fun as I had in Toronto, and as great of an experience as that was -- and it was the bulk of my career -- Philadelphia was kind of the icing on the cake for me," he said.
Regrettably, Halladay did not accomplish what he came to the Phillies to do, which was win a World Series. But he had no regrets about leaving the Blue Jays for the Phils to take that risk.
He called being involved in the postseason runs of 2010 and 2011 "some of the best experiences I had in baseball."
"The one thing I took away from that is you can have the best team on paper" -- no doubt the Phillies did, both years -- "you can have the team that wants it the most, but when a squirrel runs across home plate," he said, "there's nothing you can do about that."
Halladay even hinted at a potential involvement in baseball again down the line, perhaps as a coach, but not until his kids, Braden and Ryan, are grown up. For now, he plans to help coaching their baseball teams.
"I've always wanted to win a World Series. Maybe down the road I can be a part of it in another aspect," he said.
No reporter questioned Halladay on his thought of potentially being a Hall of Famer (he is) or on the Blue Jays or Phillies retiring his number, but one did ask why he decided to retire as a Blue Jay.
"I'd love to retire with two teams -- I don't think that's possible," he said. "I want the Phillies organization to know, I want the fans to know how much I enjoyed my time there, how much they meant to me."
And so, one of the all-time greats is left to his legacy. Along with the accolades and the great moments (sorry, Doc, your 7-6 win over the Tigers in '02 doesn't stand out for us as much as it does for you), Halladay will indeed be remembered for his refusal to quit -- like when he pitched through injury in the 2010 NLDS, or his 42 complete games from 2007-11 -- even on the day he technically did.
So Roy, how has retirement been treating you?
"It's actually a very peaceful feeling," he claimed.