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CBSSports.com Senior Writer

Top story No. 5: Halladay no-no highlights Year of Pitcher

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CBSSports.com is counting down the Top 10 storylines of 2010 in sports, culminating with the No. 1 story, which will be revealed on Dec. 30.

Some nights, you just know.

You watch the early innings, and you know you'd better not turn away. You watch the middle innings, and you start calling people to make sure they're watching, too.

There's nothing in sports quite like a no-hitter, and there's nothing at all like a no-hitter watch. It's the promise of history, with the knowledge that it can end with any pitch. You're watching a game you'll remember the rest of your life ... or one that may be forgotten by next week.

We seemed to have a no-hitter watch every other week in 2010, but it never got old. We seemed to have a no-hitter every other month in 2010, and yet every one still felt special.

But one in particular felt more special than the rest.

Was there a more memorable game all year long than Roy Halladay against the Reds? Was there a better single performance in any sport in 2010?

Even now, nearly three months later, it's a little hard to believe what Halladay did on that early October afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.

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It wasn't just the no-hitter, or that it was baseball's first postseason no-hitter since Don Larsen's perfect game in the '56 World Series. It wasn't just that Halladay was as dominant that night as any pitcher I've ever seen in any game I've covered.

It was more than that, because Halladay had waited his whole career for a chance at the playoffs, helping to engineer a trade to the Phillies in large part because it could help him get to the playoffs. Then he went out in his postseason debut and turned in a performance not seen in half a century.

It was watching and thinking, as the game went on, that it would be a bigger surprise if the Reds did get a hit than if they didn't.

These were the Reds, who'd scored more runs than any other club in the National League. And they didn't come close to getting a hit.

Sure, there were other great pitching performances in 2010. Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez was brilliant against the Braves, Oakland's Dallas Braden was magical vs. the Rays. Also, Edwin Jackson and Matt Garza. And you may as well throw Halladay's May 29 perfect game against the Marlins in there, too.

Halladay shares the moment after his perfect game. (Getty Images)  
Halladay shares the moment after his perfect game. (Getty Images)  
Add in Tim Lincecum's 14 playoff strikeouts against the Braves and Cliff Lee's 13 strikeouts against the Yankees. Plus Brandon Morrow, with 17 strikeouts in a one-hitter against the Rays.

If you want to toss in Stephen Strasburg's stunning debut against the Pirates, feel free.

Add in whatever you want, whoever you want, wherever you want. The 2010 season was the Year of the Pitcher.

Just remember that Halladay against the Reds holds the top spot on the list. Until someone throws another no-hitter in the World Series, Halladay vs. the Reds will be the standard against which we judge everything else.

"It's not fun being up there trying to hit nothing," National League Most Valuable Player Joey Votto said that day.

"He's the best pitcher in baseball," Reds outfielder Jay Bruce said. "And he pitched one of the best games of his life."

It wasn't technically a perfect game, since Halladay walked Bruce on a 3-2 pitch, with two out in the fifth inning. But it felt nearly as perfect as could be because of the way it played out.

Seriously, how much better does it get than a guy waiting his whole career for a chance at the playoffs, then going out in his first postseason game, against the highest-scoring team in the league, and throwing a no-hitter.

As Phillies closer Brad Lidge said that day: "It seems like this guy is just in control of his destiny."

That afternoon in Philly, Halladay was in control of his destiny, and everything else.

And if you were watching, you knew it.

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