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Cliff Lee Signs with Philadelphia Phillies - Baseball World in Shock

Updated on June 21, 2011

No Thanks, New York!

Just to prove there are no guarantees in sports, Cliff Lee signed a 5-year contract with the Philadelphia Phillies last night and will become part of the best pitching rotation in baseball.

Phillie fans, feel free to clear your schedule in October for playoff baseball as I think it is pretty likely your team might make an appearance.

Almost no one in the baseball world from fans to the media believed that Lee would play for anyone but the New York Yankees in 2011. The Texas Rangers had an outside shot, but really, when the Yankees are said to be interested in a player the Yankees usually get their man.

Cliff Lee with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2009


Philadelphia Bound

Therefore, it is extremely shocking to see Cliff Lee deny the New York Yankees and brush off the Texas Rangers to return to the Philadelphia Phillies, where he played during the second half of the 2009 season after a trade from the Cleveland Indians and helped lead the team to their second straight World Series appearance.

In those playoffs, Lee carried the load for Philadelphia and compiled a 4-0 W/L Record along with a 1.56 ERA, 0.82 WHIP and 33 K, along with two wins in the fall classic against the New York Yankees.

Now he won't have to carry the pitching staff all on his own in 2011 as he joins reigning NL Cy Young Award Winner Roy Halladay, along with Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels in a pitching rotation that is certainly the best this decade and possibly one of the best the MLB has ever seen.

Combine the pitching rotation with one of the best offense in not only the NL, but all of baseball as well. Hitters like Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Shane Victorino will have little pressure to perform knowing it will likely only take 2-3 runs to win a baseball game on most nights.

It is hard not to envision the Philadelphia Phillies in their third World Series since 2008.

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New York Yankees Fans Left Asking, "Why?"

According to numerous reports, the New York Yankees final offer to Cliff Lee was somewhere in the neighborhood of seven years, $148 million, making Lee one of very few athletes in recent history to leave money on the table for another option.

In my opinion, Cliff Lee never wanted to play for the New York Yankees. Lee doesn’t seem to feed off the spotlight like so many pro athletes do. While Philadelphia is not a small market by any means, it might as well be David to the Goliath that is the Yankees fan base and the New York Media.

It is also possible that the reported verbal taunts toward Cliff Lee’s wife from New York Yankees fans during the 2010 ALCS could have played a role in the decision. If his wife truly was offended, it is very possible that that turned the pitcher off from the team and its fan base.

Whatever the reason for the decision, it is refreshing to see a player like Cliff Lee who could have demanded the moon from any team, instead go with his heart and choose a team he felt comfortable with and excited about playing for instead of just looking to cash a monster paycheck.

Although, $120 million isn’t too shabby.


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    • mortgage-news profile image

      mortgage-news 6 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      This was a great pickup but they actuallly have 4 aces now and not just 2. That is why the staff is now nickanmed the 4 Aces! This could be the best starting pitching staff ever:

    • bogerk profile image

      bogerk 7 years ago from Midwest

      Hi Charles -

      I agree. I am happy for Cliff Lee and happy he didn't go to the New York Yankees. I think Charlie Manuel has two aces with Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, making him the envy of every other MLB Manager.

      Thanks for reading!

    • bogerk profile image

      bogerk 7 years ago from Midwest

      Hi Npasternack -

      Tough break on the Yankees missing out on Cliff Lee. Good to see you are still supporting him as he seems to be one of the better guys in baseball and is an excellent pitcher.

      The Philadelphia Phillies are going to be pretty tough to beat in a three-game series of any kind.

    • Npasternack profile image

      Nicholas Pasternack 7 years ago from Rochester, New York

      As a Yankee fan I wish they were able to court Lee, but now that he's signed for 5 years we won't have to hear the constant "where will *insert team* send Cliff Lee?". I'm a die hard yankees fan but i'm originally from Philly...such a dilemma! I'm still a fan of his pitching no matter what team he plays for. Thats one amazing rotation.

    • bogerk profile image

      bogerk 7 years ago from Midwest

      article_eric -

      Great comment. I haven't had the experience of Cliff Lee playing for a team I root for (although I am starting to become a closet Philadelphia Phillies fan) but it has always seemed to me that he isn't in it for the fame or fortune and would almost rather that be no part of the game at all.

      I remember in 2009 hearing about a story where he got lost in NY on his way to Game 1 of the World Series, so it never sounded like he would be extremely comfortable in the city.

      I wish Cliff Lee the best and he definitely has a new fan in me. It doesn't hurt that he gave the Yankees the cold shoulder, as I am a little tired of them getting everything/everyone they want.

    • article_eric profile image

      Eric 7 years ago from Seattle, WA

      I've watched Cliff Lee up close and personal out here in Seattle last year. While the Mariners flat out suck, the thing I liked was that he enjoyed being here. He enjoyed the area, the people and the town. That tells me a lot because Cliff Lee is in it for more than just the money. Sure, he's getting BIG MONEY, but apparently his wife was big on Philly and they both really enjoyed it there for his previous stint. It seems the crux of his decision was based on a place he and his family want to be, and that's good.

      As for turning down the Yankees - the area (where I'm originally from) is definitely NOT the kind of area Lee is used to living in. Additionally, he really is an easygoing guy who simply wants to show up for work, do his job, contribute as much as he can - and then go home. He's blue collar all the way. So my guess is that he just doesn't need the B.S. of the Bronx and the potentially hostile fans. Playing in NY is the toughest thing in the world. I think Cliff could deal with it quite well, so my guess is that he just didn't want the bull**** that comes along with playing in NY.

      "What have you done for me lately" will always be the real Bronx cheer and Cliff simply doesn't need it!