‘Series, Offseason, Angels’ Future: It All Centers Around Lee
It is all about Cliff Lee from now on.
The World Series, baseball’s offseason, the future of the Yankees, Red Sox and Angels. The whole crazy scene revolves around the best postseason pitcher of our generation.
Before you start to argue, you should know Lee’s numbers are now better than anything Roger Clemens or Curt Schilling put up, and he’s done it longer and for more teams than Pedro Martinez. You probably have to go back to Bob Gibson and Sandy Koufax to remember anyone this dominant.
Do I really have to repeat his stats? OK, he is 7-0 with a 1.26 ERA in eight postseason starts. In 641/3 innings, he has 67 strikeouts and — I love this one — seven walks.
So obviously, since he’ll get at least two starts for the Texas Rangers in the World Series that begins Wednesday against the Giants, Lee is the key participant in baseball’s biggest showcase.
But it goes further than that. He becomes a free agent after the Series, and the highest-priced auction in recent memory gets under way. The Rangers claim they will be in the thick of the bidding, and if they somehow win, the Angels hopes of dislodging them as A.L. West champs next year greatly diminish.
Ah, but if, as most suspect, the big spending Yankees win the Lee Derby, that probably eliminates them from bidding for Carl Crawford, giving the Angels a much better chance to land their No. 1 target.
The Red Sox could get in the Lee bidding, too, although they’re more likely to be the Angels’ biggest rivals in the race to sign the speedy Tampa Bay outfielder.
However you look at it, Lee is in the middle of everything. Watching him pitch in this postseason is almost hypnotnic. He is Greg Maddux with a better fastball. He puts almost every pitch precisely where he wants it, mixing them all so well that batters are completely off balance.
Lee and Roy Halladay have demonstrated that you don’t have to throw 96 or 97 mph to overwhelm opponents. You merely have to be complete masters of your craft, as they both are.
Maybe because his innings were pushing into the 270 range, Halladay wasn’t as sharp in his later outings as he was in that classic opening no-hitter. But to have a perfect game in the regular season and a no-no in the playoffs still made it an unforgettable season for him.
Lee, meanwhile, had his only mini-slump after being traded to Texas in August. His back flared up and caused him some problems. But as soon as that healed, he returned to his old self.
And nobody, absolutely nobody, has been better in October.
It will be fun to watch what he does against the Giants and it certainly will be interesting to observe what happens to him and all the teams chasing him — I refuse to refer to it as a Cliff-hanger — during the winter.
Some quick hits after yet another rousing football weekend:
Maybe we should start calling him Cam “The Ram” Newton. Auburn’s amazing 6-6, 250 pound quarterback is easily the Heisman frontrunner after his 217 yard rushing day and that signature 49 yard TD run against LSU .. .
I’ll be glad to tell you what’s wrong with the San Diego Chargers, as soon as I figure it out myself . . .
My, my, my, what got into the Raiders at Denver? . . .
I know Michigan State is undefeated, but watching their escape after falling behind 17-0 to Northwestern, I was duly unimpressed. There are three or four Pac-10 teams that could beat the Spartans, who lack speed and athleticism . . .
Exactly what do the BCS computers have against Oregon? Maybe it’s because the Ducks run even faster than they do . . .
So, yeah, I think UCLA’s Rick Neuheisel might be in a little trouble now . . .
The Brett Favre roller coaster never stops, does it? . . .
Wait, Cal gets down 42-0 at halftime to USC then drops 50 on Arizona State? I don’t get it . . .
By the way, let’s not forget Arizona in the Pac-10. The sneaky Wildcats will have a lot to say about who wins the conference . . .
Can anybody really identify the best team in the NFL at the moment? . . .
I know post-Super Bowl slumps happen, but come on, Drew Brees seems to be taking it to a new level . . .
And yes, that is definitely our old friend Pete Carroll smiling from atop the NFC West standings today . . .
— STEVE BISHEFF