Tagged: Cliff Lee

Oh, Yes We Did!

“Fearsome Fouresome”

“Four Aces”
“The Fantastic Four”
“R2-C2”
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.

Say it Ain’t So!

WELL HELLO THERE!

Just logged into the Blogosphere for the first time since the great Harry Kallas passed away early last season. It’s been a hectic 8 months since my last post and I’m sorry I haven’t been around to take part in all of the interesting stories that have been going on in the world of baseball in 2009.

I got engaged down in good ol’ Disney World last May. I’m very excited about the wedding which will be this coming July 10th. I wish I could invite everyone. I also just finished up my last semester at Penn State and will be graduating on Saturday. So needless to say, I’ve had a lot going on and unfortunately my blogging had to take a back seat.

But it’s time to end the silence. I’ve got so much to say and wouldn’t rather say it anywhere else. I had some bad experiences during this past world series on facebook, and before I get into the sadness in my heart over the loss of Cliff Lee, I’d like to speak my mind very briefly.

Personally, I thought this had all the makings for one of the greatest and most competitive world series of all time. You couldn’t have put 2 more evenly-matched, equally competitive franchises if it had been written by Bill Shakespeare himself. Unfortunately, the greatness that was the 2009 world series was tarnished by the thousands of New York and Philadelphia fans on facebook, running their mouths in the most vindictive, sadistic and downright awful ways. As if it had any effect on the game itself.

This is sports, people. It’s a game. I loved the Phillies from the day I put on my first red cap, and as much as I may disagree with the Yankees’ front office philosophies, or disagree with their impact on baseball, I’m never going to root for them to fail. I just don’t believe in that anymore. There may have been a time in my young life when I did, but I’ve grown. And so should the rest of the world.

We all love different teams, but we should all love the game more. So let me take this opportunity to congratulate the New York Yankees on their World Series victory in 2009. It was well deserved and I hope to see a rematch in 2010.

**exhale**

Now, on to the 2009-2010 off-season.

I’ve been glued to ESPN and ESPN.com the last two weeks waiting to see what would happen with Roy Halladay much like I did mid-season when the possibility first rose. This is something Yankees fans might not be able to identify with since this is common occurrence in NY; but in Philadelphia, the possibility of acquiring someone like Roy Halladay is like Neil Armstrong landing on the moon. It just doesn’t happen that often. If at all.

It didn’t happen in July, but we ended up with Cliff Lee and he was nothing short of amazing in red pin-stripes. From the first time he put on that #34 jersey against San Francisco, Philadelphia was in love. The rest speaks for itself.

Now the rumors came up again regarding Halladay and again, this isn’t something I’m used to. Late Monday afternoon I saw the ESPN ticker go across the screen that the Phillies had agreed to a trade, time stood still… Then, the ticker completed, and I found out that Cliff Lee was then traded to Seattle. My heart sank.

We went from having arguably the best 1-2 rotation in baseball, to the Roy Halladay we’ve coveted since last June. Since late October, there has not been a bigger celebrity in Philadelphia than Cliff Lee. He’s everything the city wants in the pro athlete. He doesn’t talk smack, he doesn’t make empty guarantees, he just plays. If you’re not sure, go search YouTube for a clip of Lee catching a Johnny Damon pop-up in game 1 of the world series and watch him calmly step back onto the rubber and prepare for the next pitch.

I’m not going to lie… man-crush.

Now he’s a Mariner. He literally could not be any further away from us.

It’s awesome to have Roy Halladay who is widely considered to be the best pitcher in baseball by everyone who has an opinion. His stats in the last 2 seasons are marginally better than Cliff Lee and he’s been doing it in the AL East against the Yankees and Red Sox. He has the makings to be everything Cliff Lee was and more, but still, Philadelphia is left wanting.

I don’t like the position he’s in now. Philadelphia does not quickly forget. Lee was only a Philly for 3 months but it felt like he belonged. He was one of us. I have the eerie feeling that every pitch Halladay makes will be compared to Lee’s. That’s Philadelphia.

I’m not Reuben Amaro, and I suppose it’s a good thing because I’m much more impulsive. I would have looked at the opportunity to have Lee and Halladay in the same uniform and not given a crap how bare the cupboard was. I would have done everything possible to sign Lee to an extension and keep Cliff and Doc in Philly for the next 4-5 years. Lee-Halladay-Hamels. That spells unstoppable.

Reuben said that his job was to put a championship caliber team on the field every year beyond 2010. I agree. But Reuben, your tenure as GM of the Phillies will not be measured in how many years your “could have” won the world series, it will be measured in how many years you did. 2008 belongs to Pat Gillick. You had the opportunity to, in essence, lock in a trip to the 2010 series, and have a great shot at winning it, and you balked. All because you wanted a couple of guys who might be good players 4 or 5 years from now.

In my book, that’s a bad trade. I see your reasoning and I don’t disagree with your job description. I’m glad you want to win year in and year out. But in Philadelphia, we don’t just want to be competitive, we want parades down Broad Street.

The Yankees gave Joe Girardi number 27 because they wanted a 27th championship and they got it. Roy Halladay will wear 34, which happens to be the number of the guy he’s inevitable replacing. They should have given him #3.