“The Fantastic Four”
I kind of like that last one.
The last 24 hours have been a whirlwind for me as a Phillies fan. I went online last night and was surprised to see my beloved Phils identified as the “mystery” team vying for Lee’s “talents.” I was further surprised to see a report about 30 minutes later that Lee may actually be leaning toward Philadelphia. I went to bed at about 11:30 here on the east coast with no official word and hoped that Lee would be a Phillie. I didn’t have to wait that long.
Call it inception, call it premonition, call it ESP if you want. I just had a feeling in the pit of my stomach that caused me to wake up at about 4AM and turn on my TV and there they were. Those beautiful words and 12-month-old footage of Cliff Lee in the #34 Phillies uniform now occupied by the defending Cy Young winner, Roy Halladay.
“Cliff Lee agrees to rejoin Phillies”
Now let’s all just sit back for a moment, catch our collective breath and take this signing for what it is… “Exciting.” No more, no less.
Even if you take away all that Lee is and promises to be, this is exciting for the fans of Philadelphia because we’ve achieved the impossible and the improbable all at the same time. That’s not something we’re used to.
Anyone who has followed the story and analysis which has been going on since I woke up at 4, you all know what Lee left on the table. And might I add that I have no problem with what the Yankees were trying to do. I know I’ve had my opinions about the Yankees spending habits in the past but I’ve taken a lot of my emotion out of things these days, and I can respect that the Yankees are an organization committed to winning and doing any and everything possible to achieve that goal.
But I can’t help but take away a small victory just from that alone. Again, we’re used to being the team who takes a shot that turns out to just be a dream. I’m used to a franchise that signs aging veterans like Jamie Moyer and Kevin Millwood, but never anyone in their prime. And 6 years ago, Philadelphia would never be considered a potential suitor for the game’s #1 free agent, especially not when New York is in the running. Not anymore. If nothing else, that alone makes it good to be a Phillies fan these days.
We got back “the one who got away.” New York has its superstars and legends while Philly has their Heroes and Saviors. Lee was one of those heroes for everything he did in the 2009 post season, and once you do that in Philly, there’s only one way to ruin it (see T.O.). I had mixed feelings about last year’s trade. I was excited to have Halladay, but disappointed to see Lee go. But I convinced myself it was all for the better. We had a comparable pitcher in Halladay and we had him signed through 2014 whereas Lee would have likely gone to free agency after 2010. We never thought we’d have him back and were convinced we’d always wonder “what if.”
Now we have him back. Out of everyone in baseball, HE chose US. He chose us because he loved it here so much, he took less than he could have. Now where a destination free agents want to go to instead of wanting to get out of. We in Philly have never had that, we’ve always been one of the ‘have nots’ and now we’re one of the ‘haves.’ So for now I’m just going to be excited about the promise of a great 2011 season, and the promise of a franchise that finally found it’s place among baseball’s best.
I’ve been waiting since 1993 for this.