Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Let's Take a Moment to Appreciate Cliff Lee

While Phillies and Giants fans, and the rest of the baseball universe for that matter, salivate over Saturday's NLCS game 1 matchup of Roy Halladay vs. Tim Lincecum, let's all take a moment to appreciate Cliff Lee.

Lee will always have a soft spot in Philadelphia's heart for what he did last October, and rightfully so. The man went 4-0 for the Phillies in the postseason, giving up just 7 earned runs in five games — good enough for a 1.56 ERA — striking out 33 while walking just six. He went the distance twice. And the Phillies won every single game he started. It was one of the most dominant postseason performances in history.

Well guess what? He's doing it again. Sadly, it's not in Philadelphia. The Phillies have moved on, bringing in both Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt to form the best trio of pitchers this franchise has ever had with a resurgent Cole Hamels. But as awesome as the three-headed monster is, it won't ever make us forget Clifton Phifer Lee. Even if we wanted to, he wouldn't let us. Because now as a Texas Ranger by way of Seattle, Cliff Lee is making a mockery of hitters once again this fall.

Last night, Lee pitched the Rangers to their first-ever playoff series win, and he did it in style: a complete-game six-hitter where he surrendered just one run while striking out 11 and walking exactly zero. Nothing new for Cliff. We all know that.

Watching the game, I honestly felt that when Elvis Andrus scored in the first inning on a great base-running play, the game was over. How could any Phillies fan not? It wasn't quite over yet, of course, as the Rays tied the game in the third with three straight singles, Lee's only hiccup of the night. But when the Rangers got that run right back in the fourth to give Lee the lead yet again, I no longer felt the game was over, I knew it was. Cliff Lee doesn't give away a lead twice in one game. Hell, he doesn't do it twice in one month.

Coming off an equally dominating performance in game 1, when he went seven innings of 5-hit ball, surrendering just one run while striking out 10 and walking none, Lee was in complete control again. His 11 strikeouts were the most ever in a deciding playoff game. It was the second time in his career he was called upon in an elimination game, and it was the second time he won.

He was the best player in last year's postseason, and he was by far the best player in this ALDS series against the Rays. The man struck out 21 batters in two games, surrendered just two runs and won two of the necessary three wins it took for Texas to finally come out victorious in a playoffs series. Combine those numbers with last season's magical performance and Cliff Lee has some of the most absurd playoff statistics of all time. In 7 career postseason starts, Lee is 6-0 with a 1.44 ERA. He's thrown three complete games, surrendered just 38 hits in 56 and a third innings. He's yielded just one home run, that coming in game 1 this year. And most impressively, he's struck out 54 batters while walking just six … in seven games.

What this guy is doing is incredible. Phillie or no Phillie, it's an absolute delight watching Cliff Lee pitch. I can never imagine even thinking an unkind thought about him, and I venture to say most of Philadelphia feels the same. I will root for Cliff Lee for the rest of his career every time he takes the mound — well, every time except for when he faces the Phillies.

He isn't a Philadelphia Phillie anymore, no matter how much we wish he was. However, Cliff Lee still is and always will be the greatest man who ever lived.


  1. Man, Cliff Lee has helped give this city a feeling we've never had. Ever. The Rangers have always had a loyal fan base. We went to games, even when the team sucked. For years, the thought was "if the team just had some pitching." Granted, it was the Divisionals, but still. This is unreal.

    Cliff Lee owns this city now, at least baseball-wise. I know he's done bigger things in his career, but from a standpoint of what he's done for baseball fans in the Dallas-Fort Worth area? Rev, I can't even begin to put it into a proper context. It's bigger than baseball right now.

    I'm just gonna continue to take your advice, and enjoy him while I can. You weren't lyin', brother. He truly is The Greatest Man who ever Lived.

  2. Cliff Lee had another spectacular performance against the Yankees last night with 13 strikeouts. He is now 7-0 in his post-season career and an ERA just over 1. He is going to fetch a hefty price in the off-season and probably end up with the Yankees.