D League: Cliff Lee

Here is my next column posted on The D League show’s blog.

The Phantastic Phour. Phour Loko. The Phearsome Phoursome. The Phour Horsemen.

It’s only been two days since the Phillies signed Cliff Lee and the rotation has already been bombarded with a handful of catchy nicknames.

There have also been Photo-Shopped pictures with the heads of Lee, Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt on Mount Rushmore and the nativity with Lee being the baby Jesus.

There have been videos made on JibJab.com of the four pitchers dancing in sombreros along with Carlos Ruiz to Feliz Navidad and with the quartet dressed as elves.

But the love isn’t one-sided. There have been reports that Lee has kept in close contact with a number of the Phillies, stating how much he wanted to come back to Philadelphia. There were also reports that Lee engaged in the conversations with Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, turning the Phillies into the mystery team that would try and land the most coveted free agent on the market.

Ironically, it all probably came down to the fans the most. Kristen Lee, Cliff Lee’s wife, wanted no part of New York because of the fans there after being harassed and spit on during the ALCS. But both stressed they loved the atmosphere and fans in Philadelphia.

What’s that? Fans in Philadelphia getting respect? Don’t get too worried, America. We all know you’re waiting for the next teensy-weensy little thing for the fans to do wrong before calling them a bunch of savages.

What I’m getting at is that ever since Lee was traded away over a year ago to the Seattle Mariners is that both parties wanted each other back. Lee missed the fans, the club house, and most importantly, the best chance at winning a World Series.

Lee made the Fall Classic the past two years, leading the Phillies to a defeat in 2009 to the New York Yankees and then took the Texas Rangers to their first post season series win and eventual World Series berth before falling to the San Francisco Giants in five games.

Despite the offensive troubles in 2010 for the Phillies, their Big Three (minus Lee) led them to the best record in baseball and to the NLCS before being dropped by the Giants in six games.

The subtraction of Jayson Werth – signed with the Washington Nationals a week ago – and the addition of Lee has completely changed the complexion of the Phillies. They now have an incredible chance of winning 80% of their games on pitching alone if the offense can manage to score four-five runs a game.

Amaro stressed he wanted to improve the bull pen among anything else. He did just that with having four pitchers who can give the Phillies seven innings each time out.

The Phillies have the potential to boast the greatest rotation in major league history. The anticipation of next season is going to build and build for the next four months.

Welcome back home to Philadelphia, Clifton Phifer Lee. It feels as if you were never gone.

Read more here.


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