Tonight is the night. Tonight, we begin the Cliff Lee Experiment at AT&T Park in San Francisco, as the Phillies new hurler takes the mound.
His debut appearance comes with a litany of expectations, with the most significant placing Lee as the catalyst for another shot at a title. So, basically, no pressure.
Ah, but there is. Lee’s presence alone makes this Phillies team the one to beat in the National League, and evens the playing field with the Yankees, Red Sox, and others in the American League.
Starting at 10:15 p.m., Lee will face off against Ryan Sadowski, the owner of five career starts. The new number 34 will be placed on a pedestal, fairly or unfairly, from now until the Phillies run ends.
The 30-year old was brought here to solidify the rotation that had been in need of a workhorse to sit at the top with Cole Hamels. Expectations will be immense out of the chute, and there is no doubt we will all be keeping a keen eye on him. But, from now until the Phillies run ends, we will also be keeping tabs on the horse that got away; Roy Halladay. The comparisons will be never-ending; especially for those who believed the right move to make was the one with Toronto.
To everyone out there: what will make Lee’s final two months a success? Is a winning record enough? How about becoming this year’s C.C. Sabathia? Or does it all come down to Lee-ding the charge to another pennant, and ultimately, another ring?
Sit back and enjoy watching the reigning Cy Young winner toss his first game in red pinstripes. It’s exciting when you realize that the Phillies not only made perhaps the biggest splash of the trade deadline (when was the last time they lay that claim), but are also in a stunning position for a repeat. Enjoy.