New York is the the Empire State, Jay-Z has an Empire State of Mind, and the New York Yankees are the Evil Empire of baseball…or are they? There was a time where the Yankees could throw more money and more years at any player they wanted and the following season he would be wearing pinstripes in the Bronx. That time officially ended last night when the most coveted free agent in baseball, pitcher Cliff Lee, turned down the mega offer from the Yankees in favor of an offer from the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies offer was nothing to scoff at (five years, over $100 million) but it proved that the George Steinbrenner evil empire era is officially over. The Darth Vader torch has officially been passed to Ruben Amaro Jr.
The city, state, nation, and internet are abuzz today with the news of Cliff Lee. In Philadelphia we celebrate. We just woke up on Christmas morning to find that the bike we asked Santa for isn’t under the tree. Instead, there is a shiny new sports car sitting there with the keys in it. That’s right Philadelphia, we’re all now riding in the carpool lane to the World Series and we’ve got speed pass. While nothing is a given, you certainly have to love our chances.
In New York and Texas, fans woke up this morning (or went to bed last night) covered in coal dust. They’d counted on Cliff Lee playing for them next season. They had listened to the endless reports on sports radio, read about it in local papers, and watched MLB insiders on ESPN…all for naught. Now they are just left holding a big fat stocking filled with coal. To make matters worse for these other cities. We had Cliff Lee and traded him away (for basically nothing). They think that we don’t deserve him, that we didn’t appreciate him. Why would he choose us over them?
Texas feels betrayed. Lee took them to the World Series last year. Why wouldn’t he want to stay there and help them defend their AL title? Yankees fans are sick. When they throw money at a player, they expect him to catch it! I guess that’s why they went out this morning and struck a deal with catcher Russell Martin. The Yankees are now so deep at catcher within their organization, you have to assume they are trying to load up and get the pieces in place to go after a trade when another big time pitcher becomes available.
Dallas hates us Philly. That isn’t news; we hate them too. This just ups the ante. In the same week we beat the Cowboys in Dallas and then stole their hopes of returning to the World Series. It’s hardly news that New York hates us too although for the past several years that was limited to Mets fans. Now all of New York can finally unite in their hatred of Philadelphia. We got what they wanted. We have Cliff Lee.
The Rangers and Yankees looked like the two locks to sign Lee and neither one could pull it off. We can all understand why they hate us (we just don’t care). That isn’t enough to make us the evil empire…luckily, we have more. Braves fans are disgusted and Giants fans are sick. These two teams also made the playoffs last season with the Giants going on the win the World Series but no one is talking about them. The Giants haven’t even reached the spring training of their title defense and already they are being forgotten. While it is true that titles are won on the field and not on paper, it has to make the Giants fans a little angry that no one expects their team to defend their title. We certainly don’t. With our four aces and our all-star line-up that includes Jimmy Rollins, Placido Polanco, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino, and Carlos Ruiz, We’re picking the Phillies to go all the way.
We’re not quite finished yet. Every other baseball city (with maybe the exception of Boston who had a great off-season as well) in baseball hates us too! Why? Because it is now Philly, not New York, that makes them turn green with envy. We have what they all want. We aren’t satisfied with one ace pitcher, or two, or three. We already had the 2008 World Series MVP Cole Hamels but that wasn’t good enough for us. Who got Cliff Lee? We did. Who got Roy Halladay? We did. Who got Roy Oswalt? You get the point. We’ve won four straight division titles, two of the last three NL pennants, and made two trips to the World Series in three years, capturing the 2008 title. We’ve sold out over 100 straight home games and have a waiting list for season tickets while other teams can’t come close to selling out games even with crazy over the top promotions. We don’t just have the best team in baseball, we have the best fans in baseball! That is why Cliff Lee, who was so hurt when we traded him to Seattle last winter, turned down a stay in Texas or a stint in New York to return here. He knows how much Philly loves him, and he loves us too.
We already had three aces here in Philadelphia but Cliff Lee is our ace of hearts.
We don’t hear anyone talking about Jayson Werth right now. For a guy named Werth, it’s not surprising that it was all about the money. While Werth is counting his millions in Washington, DC, we’re counting on a 2011 World Series title here in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia is the new evil empire of baseball. It is the City of Brotherly Love vs. the Nation of Envious Haters. We like our chances.
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