Headed for a Cliff: Predictions, Reactions, and Text Messages

“What a shame the Phillies have no part in all this fun whatsoever.  Described by Jon Heyman as “always a threat,” the Phillies sound more like a dormant terrorist organization during these proceedings.  But it seems our fantasy world, where Cliff Lee frolics through one of those famous South Philadelphia grass fields, surrounded by singing woodland creatures during his glorious return to the city, is about to face its end.”

–Me, yesterday

December 13, 2010.

9:04 pm

I didn’t know it yet, but my cell phone was about to be stampeded.

(302):  LEE?!

(267):  Cliff.  Lee.

(717): Holy shit, I know its early there but we have Cliff Lee…

(484):  CLIFF LEE!  I JUST SHIT MY PANTS.

(717):  The 5th guy has to have a big penis to even feel remotely special in 2011.

(530):  I can’t believe it.  My boyfriend woke me up last night to tell me and I thought I was dreaming.

(610):  Dude, I can’t find my ID and the cops look pissed.

Nolan Writin‘s Stacy Smith found herself in an equally hair-raising predicament when I emailed her this morning.

“I have two very cranky kids screaming (one is sick) and playing all around m,e so my mind isn’t functioning well at the moment; but here’s my take,” she said.  “At first, I was disappointed to hear that he made the decision not to re-sign with the Rangers.  However, I’m just happy he didn’t join the Yankees.  Now, of course I wanted him to stay – just like the Yankees wanted him and the Phillies apparently wanted him.”

“Lee helped to motivate C.J. Wilson when he joined the Rangers and I think Wilson will maintain that motivation even without Lee in the Rangers lineup.  Sure, they need to get a heck of a pitcher signed but I think as long as they maintain the drive, energy and momentum that they had the second half of this season with Lee on the roster, I’ll think they be just fine.”

Stacy’s optimism bled into her co-Rangers writer Ben Bowman.  “In my opinion, this is the best thing that could have happened to Texas,” he emailed me.  “Tying up a 32-year-old pitcher for six years for $20+ million a year was never an idea I was too thrilled with.  I understand that what Lee has been over the past three years is enough to warrant that kind of contract.  If it were my money, I would not be willing to risk it.”

“This is a blessing in disguise for the Rangers… that is, if Jon Daniels would get on the phone with Kansas City.”

Today, I am sitting in a hotel in California wearing a stained Phillies cap and a wrinkled Sixers t-shirt, missing part of a company retreat.  In short, I look like an asshole.

In Philly, we sure love our baseball, and we sure love being dicks about it.  But what we love most is being loved back. As you can imagine, this happens rarely.

When Matt Diaz tripped that dick head in the red spandex suit, the crowd cheered for him, even though he was on the Braves.  This alone is uncommon, but then he turned and waved to the crowd.  This was during a time out, near the end of the season when the Braves and Phils were both playing the point of heart-explosion to motor into the playoffs; and we loved it. Diaz got a raucous round of applause from the outfield seats.  And that was just an opposing player kicking someone to the ground.

But with the details of Cliff’s deal being what they are–that he left $50 million of the Yankees’ money just sitting there–will make him, without even throwing a pitch yet, one of the most beloved figures in Philadelphia sports history.  And we have a lot of love to give.  Like, scary love.

Of course, the far-reaching nature of these happenings is staggering.  The Phillies will have to ditch some weight in order to unclog the works; that’s going to be Joe Blanton, Kyle Kendrick, and/or Raul Ibanez (but honestly, why even make predictions about anything anymore, when apparently anything can happen, all the time?)  The Rangers most likely turn their attentions to another key acquisition.  Zach Greinke?  Adrian Beltre?  Who knows.  The Red Sox laugh uproariously as the Yankees stand there, shocked, still with a briefcase full of money extended forward, though no one is there to accept it (another notch in a long line of off season phenomena for the Sox, actually).

And the Yankees.  Oh, those crazy, crazy Yankees.

Nobody thinks this is about the time when you guys threw shit at Cliff’s wife.  I mean, maybe it is.  Who knows.  New Yorkers, however, still expect your pity.

“They won the Jeter deal, re-signing him on their terms, but then lost the pitcher who was supposed to help the captain get his first ring for his second hand.”

–ESPN New York

But if you ask the brass, this is totally fine. In fact, they predicted Cliff would turn his nose up at their offer.  Andrew Corselli from Yanks Go Yard confirms.

“Good, I’m glad,” Andrew told me.  “Take a look at one of my posts from a week ago. I didn’t want him for seven years then and I wouldn’t want him if the Phils didn’t swoop in and sign him on Monday. You may think I’m crazy for feeling this way, but please hear me out before you start name-calling.”

…no promises, but go on.

“Why would you want your team to sign a 32-year-old pitcher, who has suffered back problems recently, to a seven-year deal worth over $150 million?  And they don’t need him for seven years. They have plenty of great pitching talent in the minors that will be MLB-ready in a few seasons.  Signing Cliff Lee would be overkill and add to the stigma that the Yankees buy their championships.”

“So Lee’s wifey should expect a lot worse than spit and beer if she ever steps foot in Yankee Stadium again.”

If there’s one thing to retain from this, its that the stagnant nature of the off season can be derailed by cataclysmic shocks; and that such earth-shattering occurrences should probably just be expected.

The off season isn’t over.  Ruben’s ability to claim ignorance of any weirdness and then seconds later pull a stegosaurus out of his back pocket is simply stunning.

–Me, yesterday

And if there are two things to retain, they would be that and also what exactly Yankees fans are planning that is worse than throwing their saliva at Cliff Lee’s wife.

Tags: Boston Red Sox Cliff Lee New York Yankees Philadelphia Phillies Texas Rangers

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