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Cliff Lee is the scariest thing ever

Oct 18, 2010, 11:36 AM EDT

Cliff Lee

The disconnect between the “storylines” that surround baseball and the actual baseball seems even starker than usual this week. Mostly because of Cliff Lee.

It seems like everything that has been written about the ALCS has started from the premise that Cliff Lee is like some avenging angel of death against whom no soul has a chance. What will the Yankees do now that they have to face him twice in a five game series? What should they do with the rotation to counter it? Now, courtesy of Ken Rosenthal’s latest column, we’re starting in on the “what will happen if Cliff Lee beats the Phillies in the World Series” stuff.

Don’t get me wrong: they’re interesting storylines, as Lee is a pretty phenomenal pitcher, especially in the postseason. But I just kind of get the feeling that the Yankees and Phillies don’t care all that much about it. The Yankees, as Mark Simon at ESPN New York points out today, have faced a few aces before. Indeed, postseason teams face aces every year because, hey, good pitchers tend to lead their teams to the playoffs.  Lee is great, but he’s not supernatural. Likewise the Phillies would likely rather face someone else, but it’s not like they can be unhappy with the current state of the rotation. Because, you know, it’s pretty good.

Some things matter a lot more than we think because they don’t get talked about all that much before they actually reveal themselves to be gigantically important in a playoff series: Lefty-lefty matchups. Lingering injuries. A defensive liability that just can’t be hidden. Other things seem huge beforehand but really don’t matter a ton.  I’m putting Cliff Lee Hysteria in that category.

  1. Chris Fiorentino - Oct 18, 2010 at 11:56 AM

    Craig, if Cliff Lee shuts down the Yankers in game 3, then, if he gets the chance, shuts down the Yankers in game 7, will you come back with a story proclaiming “Cliff Lee hysteria was right”? Because I know I am someone who considers Cliff Lee the greatest postseason pitcher I have ever seen. I am only 39, so I didn’t see Bob Gibson, or the other old-timers. Lee is a beast, and he proved as much once again, on the road in Tampa not once but twice. If he does so against the Yankers twice, will media guys agree he’s the man?

    The Phillies hype is just typical BS spewing from the mouth of Rosenthal. Ruben made up for his lousy trade of Lee by getting Oswalt. There should really be no talking about Lee doing anything to the Phillies in the World Series. It won’t matter. He’ll get his 2 wins and the Phillies will still win in 6 ;P

  2. Craig Calcaterra - Oct 18, 2010 at 11:59 AM

    If he beats the Yankees twice I’ll say “wow, Cliff Lee was impressive.” The difference is in assuming he’s going to kill the Yankees and appreciating it when he does it. The latter makes all the sense in the world. The former is silly if taken to an excessive degree.

    Lee’s awesome. No question. He’ll be tough for the Yankees to beat him. But it seems to me that in some quarters that kind of assessment has been replaced by something a tad too, I dunno, hysterical.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Oct 18, 2010 at 12:27 PM

      I don’t assume. I predict. It’s just the way I am. It’s easy to say “Cliff Lee was impressive” after the fact. It’s much harder to say “Cliff Lee WILL BE impressive”. Dude’s a beast, and I predict that he will give up 1 run on 5 hits in 9 innings tonight. Whether that is enough, that’s up to the Rangers offense.

    • Jonny 5 - Oct 18, 2010 at 2:07 PM

      “a tad too, I dunno, hysterical”

      Lee does seem to bring out Hysteria in people. I guess it’s because he beats you, and makes it look easy. Notice that? Most pitchers look they hate their job, get an angry look, sweat like crazy. Not Lee. Lee looks like he enjoys every inning. Bad call behind the plate? No problem, i’ll strike him out then smile about it. He looks like he’s having fun while he beats you, and that’s what’s so scary about him.

  3. Jason @ IIATMS - Oct 18, 2010 at 12:07 PM

    Cliff Lee is teh rulez

  4. yankeesfanlen - Oct 18, 2010 at 12:11 PM

    A couple of mistakes by the Rangers outfield is all the Universe needs if their bats are hitting. Creates a rally ala game 1, and Cliff Lee has little he can do about it. Andy “fiddly-fart” will put his usual men on base and it will be tense, so we’ll be okay as long as tje Fat Toad is kept out of it.

    • BC - Oct 18, 2010 at 12:35 PM

      What’s Hideki Irabu got to do with anything?

      • Kevin S. - Oct 18, 2010 at 12:54 PM

        No, that’s the Fat Pussy Toad.

  5. BC - Oct 18, 2010 at 12:36 PM

    The only time I can recall where teams were completely AFRAID to face a pitcher in the postseason was Mike Scott in 1986. He was unhittable for a handful of years. The Mets HAD to win Game 6 of the NLCS – they didn’t want any part of Scott in Game 7.

  6. md23rewls - Oct 18, 2010 at 4:27 PM

    When the Yankees have faced Lee this year, he has given up three runs, four runs, and one run. Granted, the four run start was one in which he was cruising until the sixth or seventh inning, but it’s not like he’s lights out all the time, and it’s not like the Yankees have never gotten to him before. I’m sure Lee will probably pitch a great game, but it’s not a given. He’s a good pitcher, not a Golden God.

  7. virilop4 - Oct 19, 2010 at 3:04 AM

    cliff lee is officially “the yankee killer” no question. But it seems to me that yankees wanted no part in that game, i say this because the look on all the yankees tonight, the defense ( yankees) was very sluggish and it also seemed like they threw in the towel in the 5th and were looking to move on to game 4. i respect lee alot because he seems fearless in his approach. He is not affraid of the bombers at all. but they are of him, i say this because of what i saw last year in the world series, in game 1 the phils man handled the bombers with lee starting,New york then would win 3 straight. Then In game 5, i think,they lost on purpose for 2 reasons, 1 mainly to win it all at home, and 2 because they knew they couldnt beat lee, and wanted no part of him. thats what i saw then and thats what Ive seen tonight. Cliff is undefeated in the post season, and makes playoff teams look like little league. He’s so scary he gave is only walk tonight. so you know what the yankees are thinking, Cant beat him , buy him !! For the love of the game I hope he never becomes a Yankee. He does not need them, they Need him. It would be nice to have someone in my lifetime become the greatest ever without ever becoming a yankee …..GO PHILLIES

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