We received another shocker in what could be the most surprising off-season in recent baseball memory last night when highly sought-after lefty ace Cliff Lee unexpectedly decided to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies. Lee, who pitched for the Phillies in the 2009 World Series (and lost) also pitched for the Texas Rangers in the 2010 World Series (and lost). Clearly he prefers the bridesmaid status, and by signing with the Phillies he’s pretty much guaranteed another World Series loss this season.
Lee joins NL Cy Young Award winner Roy Hallday, three-time All-Star Roy Oswalt, and 2008 World Series MVP Cole Hamels to form the most intimidating foursome since Tombstone. Now the question becomes…how is Philly going to introduce their “Big Four”?
This is 2010, remember. A press conference no longer gets the job done. What’s exciting about a guy trying on a jersey and addressing the media with the same, cliche, “I’ll do anything to help the club” responses? Just watch the first three minutes of Carl Crawford‘s introduction to Boston…I think I just drooled on my keyboard. Even my man-crush Theo couldn’t spice that one up.
What we need is action — something that tells the fans “we are the greatest collection of talent ever assembled in any single place in the history of mankind.” Luckily for us, the Miami Heat already set the template for us.
Why can’t us, Philadelphia?
Just think, a capacity crowd of 43,647 pack into Citizens Bank Park. The entire stadium goes dark as the cheers begin to crescendo. Suddenly the video starts on the JumboTron:
- Cliff Lee strikes out Nick Swisher looking on an 2-2 breaking ball.
- Roy Oswalt pounces off the mound to field a bunt and throw a strike to second base to nail the lead runner.
- Cole Hamels nearly picks off Matt Kemp at first base with a deceptive move.
- Roy Halladay makes an extraordinary catch in right field while shagging fly balls during batting practice.
After that, the Philly crowd is in a complete frenzy as they try to decide whether to throw batteries or iceballs onto the field. Suddenly, the spotlight goes onto the left field bullpen entrance and you hear the familiar guitar riff and clapping intro to John Fogerty’s Centerfield. From the back of the bullpen, the Big Four emerge in full uniform and slowly start walking to the mound, each with his jacket draped over his pitching arm. They refuse to wave to the crowd as they walk toward the mound, quiet and focused on what they have to accomplish.
When they finally arrive at the mound, they each take their place on one of four rubbers located side-by-side in front of the mound. They each get into the stretch to throw a pitch. Behind the plate are four of Philadelphia’s sports heroes: Michael Vick, Rocky Balboa, Allen Iverson, and Eric Lindros. The Big Four simultaneously throw two-seam fastballs to their celebrity catchers as fireworks go off in center field.
After that they sit in chairs in a circle around the mound, where they field questions from this guy. He asks questions such as, “So, how many homeruns ah yous gonna hit dis yeah?” and reminds the Big Four to say hello to their mothers for him when they get home.
After about an hour of fielding questions, manager Charlie Manuel heads out to the mound to talk to his aces. After a few head nods and glove-covered utterances, Manuel finally pats each of them on the butt and they make the slow walk to the dugout– being sure to tip their caps ever-so-slightly to the roaring crowd.
If that doesn’t get you pumped up for this season, Philadelphia, check your pulse.