Unless Cliff Lee suddenly becomes Steve Blass the acquisition of the reigning AL Cy Young winner has been perhaps the most important mid-season, off-season and any season in between trade the Phils have made in a very long time. Only the acquisition of another pretty fair left-hander over thirty years ago comes close.
Not only has Lee pitched brilliantly, he pitches deep into the night: two complete games and one each of seven and eight innings. Alleged innings eaters have come and gone in these parts, but this guy is the real deal. The glass-half-empty in me worries about tiring him out, especially when he goes the distance on a night when the temperature is still 85 degrees at game's end!
If anyone is worried about running him down, however, Lee is not among them. To add to his growing aura, he also hits and likes to do it. He sure doesn't look like a guy whose entire career heretofore has been in the DH league. Indeed, he's collected nearly as many hits in his four starts as he's surrendered. He looks like he knows what he's doing with a bat and, judging from last night, knows what he's doing on the bases. I loved how he went half-way on a fly ball after singling. I wish Jayson Werth could do that as well.
What's not to like??!!!
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Well, as a matter of fact, here is something not to like in another arena altogether. With apologies to Sports Illustrated
, a real sign the apocalypse is upon us was this paragraph from today's Inquirer
on the subject of Michael Vick jerseys:
There is no Vick at Dick's.
A spokesman for Dick's Sporting Goods said yesterday that the chain will not stock Michael Vick's Eagles jersey until company officials "evaluate the reaction of Eagles fans."
Translation: We don't concern ourselves with questions of justice, redemption or forgiveness. We just ask ourselves whether or not we can make a buck.
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Sticking to football for another moment, the Brett Farve "circus" as former Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton labeled it, reminds me of a prize fighter who just keeps coming back for more after it has become clear that all other considerations aside, his skills have eroded and his body cannot take the punishment. This Favre thing isn't going to end well or on his own recognizance. It's probably going to take an injury to put an end to it.
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Still on football, the Eagles certainly have had their share of training camp injuries, real and imagined. How do their casualties compare to other teams? Inquiring minds would love to know. Is Camp Reid too hard? Are players showing up in good shape? Is this "just" football?
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Back to the game we love....
Many observers think the Giants would represent the most difficult team to face in the first round of the NL playoffs because of their pitching. Others think the Rockies represent a greater challenge because they are better balanced over all. I'm sticking with the Marlins, who offer perhaps the greatest challenge of them all: unpredictability. They can hit. They can pitch. They cannot field. They also don't have a closer. But when they have the first two going at the same time they are trouble.