Full Press Conference Recap: Cliff Lee Emerges as the Alpha Man, Dominates Mid Day Softball Session
Oh yeah, this was not nearly as exciting as we expected it to be. The ZOMG they’re on the stage factor quickly turned into less talky, more throwy.
The Philly 5 met with the assembled media today in what can only be described as a fantastically awkward dog and pony show.
The Five Elements walked out to gushing reporters in the media lunch room of Bright House Networks Field (oh yeah, high times). The scene was made only slightly more glorious by the Baby Beluga Blue laced Spring Training backdrop that looked like it was designed by the guys who created Twitter.
Michael Barkann, who was sporting wings from the four cans of Red Bull he apparently drank before he floated across the screen, greeted viewers as Scott Palmer dutifully waited for the CSN audience to be welcomed to the party. The 2011 press conference, folks.
Seated from gushing-media-member-facing left to right was Roy Halladay (who, like always, anxiously grazed the right side of his neck with his big, safe hands) Joe Blanton, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels. Hey! That’s not the rotation… oh, I get it.
It was at this point we started taking votes in our live blog on what number question Blanton would receive (3, 4, 5, 6 or more, or none- the viewing audience was split between five and six). Boom! Question two. He’s a part of the staff, folks. The seating arrangement told us so.
There are many reasons the Five Pillars are all wearing Phillies uniforms, but their ability to give insightful interviews is not one of them.
To be fair, there really isn’t a lot of pressing questions that need to be answered. But let’s dig in:
It only took until question five for Blanton to be disrespected, as our friend Ryan Lawrence was the first to unintentionally prod the elephant in the room.
Q. Cole, you are the only one at this table with a ring. Looking at the guys to your right ‑‑
COLE HAMELS: He’s got one too.
JOE BLANTON [a comment that was conveniently removed from the Phillies' transcript of the presser]: It’s okay, I know you always forget about me
Q. I’m sorry. With you and Joe together and the other three guys now to your right along with Joe, I guess what are your expectations this year and how confident are you that you can get to where you want to go at the end of the year?
COLE HAMELS: I think every year we’ve gotten a lot smarter. We’ve gone against some big acquisitions, and I think that shows that the organization wants to keep pushing the envelope with going out and winning. I think that’s kind of what it takes.
Then the love-fest began:
Q. You guys have been compared to many great staffs throughout history. I’d like to hear several of you answer this. What is the best staff or the best rotation that you guys can remember, and who would you like to be compared to?
CLIFF LEE: I think we haven’t thrown a single pitch as a group yet. So it’s kind of early to say we’re one of the best rotations in the history of the game. Obviously, we’re a very talented group, and there is potential for all of that. But it’s just that, it’s potential.
It was at this point that Cliff Lee began to assert him self as the Alpha Male, snapping his ironic chin at questions with condescending answer after condescending answer.
Q. So it was Phillies all the way then?
CLIFF LEE: I mean, I guess, sure. Sure, yeah. Phillies all the way.
Q. The focus today is on you five guys and the expectations are right through the charts. What is your expectation for the eight guys that are going to be on the field, behind you, and helping you win these games?
CLIFF LEE: What is our expectations for the other guys that are on the field, is that what you’re asking?
Q. Yeah. How do you think the eight guys behind you are going to measure up to the expectations that you’ve given to what this team can be?
CLIFF LEE: I really don’t know how to answer that, but I’m going to try. I’m going to say I he hope they prepare and come in and do everything they need to do to prepare. If they do that, our talent should play out.
CLIFF LEE: What are our nicknames, anyway? What are they?
Q. [Rattles of litany of nicknames]
CLIFF LEE: All those add up to four it seems like, and there’s five of us. So I haven’t heard one that sounded any good yet.
Q. [Asked for suggestions]
CLIFF LEE: You’ve got to come up with it. We haven’t heard one with five included yet.
COLE HAMELS: That’s why we have the fans. They come up with something good. They always do.
CLIFF LEE: Whatever. We don’t get caught up in that kind of stuff, really to be honest with you. That’s for the media to come up with, and the fans to enjoy and sell T‑shirts whatever they’ve got to do. We could care a less about the nicknames. Bottom line for us is just winning.
Cliff Lee was running shit by now. He doesn't have time for such fantastical questions, he's just here to throw up zeros.
Q. I know it’s been a couple months since you signed. Putting the uniform back on today though, is there any element of surprise left that you’re back with Philly? And secondly going back to those negotiations, who was it that you first heard from in the Phillies organization, the initial phone call in the free agent derby and when you knew you could return here? What was your reaction at the time?
CLIFF LEE: What was the first question again?
Q. Any element of surprise left?
CLIFF LEE: No, I’m not surprised at all. I’ve known I was a Philly since I signed. More anticipation and anxious and ready to get here. Excited to be a part of it and get it going, yeah. But not surprised.
The first person I heard from was my agent who was talking to Ruben, yeah, and Scott Proefrock , those guys had a big part of that.
The first person I talked to, I believe, was Ruben after I made my decision to sign here. But I wasn’t really in that process. It was more my agent and working that stuff out. I’m glad they were able to get that done.
Q. Were Philly cheesesteaks the reason you came back to Philadephia? [at this point,it is OK to facepalm yourself]
CLIFF LEE: I like Philly cheese steaks, but that had nothing to do with me coming back to Philadelphia (laughing).
As The Pentagram left the stage and the rest of the room was trying to decide whether or not they should press charges, a smitten Barkann took over the screen and made some sort of odd Valentine’s Day-Phillies Red analogy.
Maybe we should start a countdown to Opening Day: 45 days.