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Cliff Lee Brings The Phillies Swagger!

What the Philadelphia Phillies did in acquiring Cliff Lee for a second go-round is pretty amazing.  It's amazing on a number of different levels, actually.  The one thing that Cliff Lee may bring to this Phillies team is an unquantifiable, intangible thing.  Some people may not even realize that it's missing. If you looked hard enough in 2010, and you got real honest with yourself, you might just have noticed what thing was missing. Very simply put it was... swagger.

That's right, I said it.  The Philadelphia Phillies in 2010 lacked swagger.  They never had it, they never gained it or found it, and I'd even be so bold as to say that the swagger I speak of disappeared on December 15th, 2009.  In my opinion, it boarded a plane and headed West young man, to Seatlle.

Everyone knows the upside of Cliff Lee.  The 76 (slight exaggeration) pitches in his arsenal that he can throw for strikes.  The grace under pressure, demonstrated remarkably by his postseason appearances for both the Phillies and Texas Rangers.  Added to the already formidable Halladay, Hamels and Oswalt, Lee becomes even that much better.

I'm talking about something else, though. Again, I'm talking about swagger, here.  When Cliff Lee took to the mound for the Phillies, there was always a special electricity.  I don't ever remember fans saying, "Hey, I wonder if Lee will win tonight."  It was always more of, "Lee is going to kill them tonight."  There was an extra air of confidence.  You KNEW the Phillies and Lee would come through.  It was almost as if the Phillies themselves KNEW it too.  And that made Lee better and the Phillies better.  Everyone remembers the behind the back snag of the bounding ball up the middle, the "oh yeah, I forgot this is the World Freakin' Series" catch on a pop up, the near no-hitter in Lee's Philadelphia Phillies debut, and the 5-0 start with an other-worldly 0.56 ERA. It was sensational and it was amazing.

I am in no way demeaning what Roy Halladay did this year for the Phillies.  If anything, it often felt like Halladay was out there fighting by himself.  Roy Halladay is a class act.  A gentleman.  He is a fierce competitor and tireless worker.  He is a perfectionist.  The list goes on.  You won't hear about Roy Halladay throwing at someone's head though.  In the 2010 NLCS Halladay exchanged unpleasantries with Pat Burrell.  When Burrell stepped into the batter's box the next time, Halladay did not give him some sweet chin music.  Not even a brush back pitch.  Doc is a professional. Cliff Lee was suspended last year for throwing at someone's head... in Spring Training.  The game was of no significance, and Lee was playing bean ball.  Cliff Lee has a mean streak... Swagger.

Almost from the beginning of the season in 2010, (aside from the first couple weeks of the season) it seemed that the Phillies were tired or deflated.  From the very first moment I saw that, I attributed it to the absence of Cliff Lee.  And I don't think I was wrong.

Today that energy and swagger returned to Philly.  You could feel it in the air.  You could see it on the streets.  The most hardened of us with a half-smirk as we made our way through the day.  People smiled more today in Philly.  And this is just the beginning.  For as much excitement as there was today, I almost forgot that they will PLAY games too.  Today was not the show.  That, my fellow sports fans, is still to come.


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