The Cliff Lee Factor

In a heated competition between the Texas Rangers and New York Yankess to give the most money to pitcher Cliff Lee, they both lost to the non-reported third team that was the Philadelphia Phillies. Lee never really seemed to be interested in the Yankees and how they do business; Lee, however, enjoyed his time with the Rangers and if it wasn't for the Phillies jumping in at the last second Lee would have once again been the ace in the Texas Ranger starting rotation. But ultimately the Phillies is where the dominant Arkansas native ended up. The Phillies to Lee, can be compared to the girl that got away. Lee did not expect to part ways with the Phillies, but the decision was not up to him and the Phillies decided to cut ties with the pitcher that led them to the World Series. While Lee enjoyed the time he had in Texas, and was able to stay clear of the lust of the Big Apple, you just can't put a price on the one that got away. Philadelphia had become Lee's home and that's where he intended to stay for the rest of the career, he was heartbroken when the Phillies moved on, and as much as Lee knew he had to move on to other teams he still kept a place in his heart for the Philadelphia Phillies. When given the offer to get back together with the Phillies, Lee ended up taking less money and less years in his contract just so he could be reunited with the Philadelphia Phillies organization. As a Texas Ranger fan I am upset to see Cliff Lee go, he gave this town something it hasn't gotten to experience in years. As a fan, i feel like I have to be mad at lee for leaving the Texas Ranger organization, but as a person who has experienced what lee has gone through on a less metaphoric state, I completely understand where his heart is at, and in no way can I be mad at Lee, but can only wish him the best. Also, to go deeper on the sympathetic scale to forgive Lee for leaving Arlington for Philadelphia, Cliff Lee has a son that had been diagnosed with leukemia, and the pediatric hospital that Lee's son intended while Lee was with the Phillies is the number one pediatric hospital in the nation. Also noteworthy on Lee's family life playing into his decision, lee's wife was spat on during Yankee home games when the Rangers played the Yankees in the playoffs; it was also reported that she didn't enjoy the drive out to Arlington to watch her hubby play. Personally, I also do not enjoy the drive up to Arlington, and I'm not even usually the one driving. So ultimately Lee did what was best for his family in his move to Philadelphia. Its
always good for the wife to be happy, because if the wife is happy, then you are happy. Philadelphia provides the best care for the illness Lee's son has, and as a father I am sure Lee wants nothing less than the best possible care for his son. Lastly, for Lee, a price cannot be put on the one that got away. Lee may have "moved on" to other cities after the heart break of being "broken up with" by the Phillies, but the truth of the matter is that Lee's heart was always in Philadelphia. As a fan I am upset to see him go, because of all the things he brought to the table for the Rangers' organization, and the city itself in providing a spark. Ultimately though, I wish the best for Cliff Lee, and I just hope when the Rangers face him he is pitching more like the Cliff Lee in the World Series, a Cliff Lee that was only moderately un-hittable as opposed to absolutely un-hittable in every other series.
What Lee Brought to the Table
A veteran pitcher such as Cliff Lee has a much deeper impact than just what you see on the outside. In the few months Lee was a Ranger, he was able to teach some of the Rangers' pitchers, such as C.J. Wilson, some tricks of the trade that he had learned over his career in the big leagues. He was able to teach the young Rangers' pitching staff about aspects of pitching such as control, and the ability to put together a solid game plan against the team you were about to face. Another aspect Cliff Lee brought to the Rangers was a feeling of calm. When you see Cliff Lee pitch, he never seems phased of the situation, and as a fan , I didn't feel worried whenever the opposing team had 1st and 2nd with no one out; which is rare for a DFW sports fan, because we always expect our teams to screw up in the end. I mean, lets be honest, does anyone really trust Tony Romo when he goes back to pass the way you trust Tom Brady or Peyton Manning? No, of course not. As DFW sports fans we sit in front of our TVs with our eyes closed and our ears plugged praying that our team doesn't go and mess this one up like we expect them to. Although, Cliff Lee was an exception. No matter how bad the situation seemed to get, I still had confidence in Lee. And most times, Lee would get out of those jams; he would leave both of those runners stranded at 1st and 2nd as they watched batter after batter after batter either strike out, hit a shallow pop fly, or ground out to an infielder. This calm, was also felt by all of the Rangers' players. The other pitchers in Rangers' rotation felt confident that Lee would go out and get a win, so that in turn put less pressure on them so that they could be relaxed to go out and do what they had to do to get the job done. Which was really a motto for the Rangers all year to go out on the field and do work. Its easy to do go out and do your own job when you know Cliff Lee is pitching before or after you and will certainly get the job done. He was also someone all the Rangers' pitching staff looked up to and would come to they needed help, or if something didn't feel right. The acquisition of Cliff Lee also had a calming effect on the Texas Ranger bats. A fact that was very evident in most of the games Lee pitched. Batters felt like they didn't have to do as much since Lee was on the mound. Already in their heads they knew that one run would get them to extras, two runs would probably be a win, and three runs pretty much sealed the deal. It becomes easier to hit when you figure out that you only need two or three runs to win a game, rather than having the pressure to score 6, 7, or 8 runs which were sometimes needed in the back end of the Rangers' rotation.
In closing, Cliff Lee was an amazing teammate and an amazing pitcher. He is arguably one of the best post season pitchers in MLB history. A truly great guy who you feel confidence in when he is on the mound. Lee is also very well spoken, and one of the few athletes I actually enjoy to listen to on a post game interview, because he tells it like it is, and you can see the determination in his eyes, and by his body language you can tell that nothing really phases him. I truly am going to miss Cliff Lee, I just hope the lessons that he has taught the Rangers pitching staff stick with them in the upcoming year. Truly though, Cliff Lee is irreplaceable, because not only are you trying to replace a great pitcher such as Cliff Lee, but the hora Lee brings to the table as a player. An hora simply known as, the Cliff Lee factor.

-Colby

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