This is our third annual “Top Ten Philly Sports Moments of the Year.” You can find lists from 2009 and 2010 here and here. We will be rolling out the moments over the next few days through New Year's Day.
All summer long.
This one is a tortured selection because if there’s one person who can be blamed for the Phillies losing to the Cardinals, it’s Cliff Lee. He handed over a 4-0 lead in Game 2. Had he been able to secure the win, the way he had for most of the season, the Phillies beat the Cardinals in three games, we’re not talking about their offensive woes, and Ryan Howard still has his Achilles intact.
With all of that being said, however, it’s hard to deny Lee’s excellence in 2011. He won five games in June, giving up one run. During a stretch beginning in August and continuing on into September, Lee won six straight games and gave up only two runs. Other times during the season he looked average, but it’s hard to deny his dominance on the mound (and at the plate). He brought a different kind of excitement to summer nights, one that was comprised of equal parts performance and personality.
To give you an idea of what I'm talking about, this was perhaps my favorite homoerotic lede, from our Morning Wood on Aug. 5:
Somewhere in the land of pretty ponies, where awkward men like Ichabod Crane dodge pumpkin heads thrown at them with gravity-defying movement, Cliff Lee and Hunter Pence were just sitting back, watching, waiting to bridge the Madison Bumgarner Gap. Last night was their time to strike.
If you don’t like that lede, you're probably not going to like this, either: In the seventh inning, when Lee had Cody Ross down in the count, 0-2, after throwing two straight speed balls, I mumbled to myself, “He’s going to drop a deuce on him like a magical steed throwing pixie dust off a rainbow.”
I wasn’t far off.
Cody Ross finished the night 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. Sit down, clown.
As you might imagine, had Lee been able to win Game 2, he would probably be even higher on the list…