clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Phillies Bag Cliff Lee in Bizarro World

New, comments
It’s a very strange feeling to be a Phillies fan right now. The team looks all but invincible on the field. You turn on the tube and just expect them to be winning, and if they’re not, you figure they will be soon. Pedro Martinez is down in the minors dusting off his skills, and up in the bigs our braintrust just hunted down a prize fox from the American League, the Indians’ Cliff Lee, a reigning Cy Young-winning fox at that. ↵

↵I tell you, all of this is a little hard to process when losing has been etched into your mindset for so long. We don’t buy at the trade deadline, we sell! We’re not playas, we’re wankstas! We’re the Philadelphia Phillies goshdangit! We suck and we’re pissed off about it! Right? ↵

↵

↵At the beginning of this season, the Phils lost three of their first four games, and watching the third loss (in which the Rockies absolutely pummeled Cole Hamels at Coors), I found myself thinking with that familiar disgusted muscle contraction in my stomach: “oh man, here we go again, this effin’ team will never do anything right.” ↵

↵

↵Then I caught myself. “Wait a minute,” I thought. “We’re the freakin’ World Series champions! What the hell is wrong with me?” ↵

↵

↵In some form or another, I’ve continued with that phenomenon of thinking and then rethinking all season. I expected Raul Ibanez to be a bum because it just seemed very typical that he would be, and when he got injured I figured "okay, this is it, this is going to be worse, he’s fantastic but he’s going to be hurt the rest of the year." We hit that losing skid in June and I thought, here it is, this is what’s been coming all along, now we’re going to lose every game for the rest of the year and it’s going to be so embarrassing that they’re going to retroactively retract the 2008 championship and the history books will just say there was no World Series that year. ↵

↵

↵I watch the MLB package on cable and hear the announcers from other teams talking about the Phils with legitimate fear and respect in their voices, and I think “do these guys realize that they’re talking about the Phillies?” And then it hits me. “Oh yeah, of course they’re talking about the Phillies, because the Phillies are awesome.” ↵

↵

↵Just a couple weeks ago, my internal fan mechanism was finally starting to readjust to the idea that the Phils weren’t lovable (or not so lovable) losers anymore, and that they weren’t the scrappy underdogs either. I was beginning to make my peace with the fact that we were on top and other teams and other cities weren’t making fun of us anymore, given the fact that we’re the champs. Not only that, we have a very good chance at being the champs again, because our squad is loaded, and what’s more it seems to possess that invisible and elusive alchemy that is more valuable in baseball than a thousand A-Rods draped in jewels, that mysterious tincture known as “team chemistry.” ↵

↵

↵I was beginning to accept all of that, but this trade deadline business has thrown my mechanism for a loop again. I think about the Phils doing a trade deadline deal and I get nauseous. I think about us giving Curt Schilling to the D-Backs for … who was it? Travis Lee was in there. Omar Daal, I believe. Or I think about us giving Scott Rolen to the Cardinals for … look, I’m never going to remember who we got from them. Actually, no, that’s not true. Placido Polanco was one of the guys we got from the Cards, who immediately came to Philly and entered right into our starting lineup at “opera singer.” ↵

↵

↵I kid because I love. I actually was a big Polanco fan, but let’s face it – he was not appropriate compensation for Scott Rolen, and neither were any of the now-forgotten bums who came along with him. ↵

↵

↵But now … now the worm has turned, and, to paraphrase Monty Burns, Dame Fortune has hugged us to her sweetly perfumed bosom. We’re hunting with the big dogs now. We’re buying at the deadline, and we’re thinking big, thinking NOW. We’re turning down offers from the Jays for Halladay and we’re bagging Cliff Lee for a minor-league package! We’re wheeling and dealing rather than getting wheeled and dealt. ↵

↵

↵I need some advice from Red Sox fans about how to handle this turn of events. Then again, not even Red Sox fans could understand what I’m going through. Yeah, they lost for a long time, but they were always playas. I’m thinking the only person who could really counsel me on this question would be someone highly suitable for the Philadelphia mindset – the one and only Rocky Balboa. ↵

↵

↵No doubt he’ll counsel me on the eye of the tiger and taking it back and all manner of advice on not losing my edge. What he won’t be able to understand is that “losing my edge” is exactly what I’m after. You see, Rock, that montage at the beginning of Rocky III where you’re rolling around in the daisies making out with Adrian and riding with her on the back of your Harley and exchanging expensive watches and necklaces and crap? That right there is what’s it all about, not the sweating and the bleeding and the suffering. When you’ve been down as long as we were (and I’m talking down), when you’ve had that edge for decades and decades, well, it ain’t an edge anymore, it’s a monkey on your back. And like many Phils fans, I imagine, even though we won the World Series a good nine months ago, I’m just starting to get rid of that monkey right now, and it feels like freedom, feels like I can breathe again. ↵

↵

↵So in conclusion, thank you very much for Cliff Lee, Ruben Amaro. Bring him on, cause you know what? He’s going to fit right in. We’re the Philadelphia Phillies, goshdangit. We’re winners, and we’re not pissed off anymore, not in the least. ↵

↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.