On Friday night, the Philadelphia Phillies were eliminated from the playoffs by the St. Louis Cardinals, as Chris Carpenter outdueled Roy Halladay in a 1-0 classic. In the eyes of the Phillies and their fans, the season has to be a disappointment -- a franchise record 102 wins and a first round exit. Expectations were set high coming into the season, thanks in large part to Cliff Lee deciding to spurn the Rangers, as well as the Yankees, to sign with the Phillies.
Lee, who is an Arkansas native, decided to leave Texas and return to the team who traded him to Seattle. It wasn't about the money supposedly to Lee, who left millions of dollars on the table to sign with the Phillies instead of the Yankees. Part of Lee's rationale was that there simply weren't many cons to signing with the Phillies:
"I don't know, just the team, the atmosphere, the environment, the fans, the city. I mean, there's a lot of things," Lee explained. "My family enjoyed it here. The pitching staff. There's a lot of pros and not many cons when you start weighing things out."
Much like Mike Hampton chose to sign with Colorado Rockies in 2000 because of their school system, Lee let non-baseball factors decide where he signed with in 2010. Which is fine. Lee is entitled to sign wherever he wants, and personally, I always thought the Rangers should let him walk.
But I wonder how much Lee is going to like Philadelphia and the atmosphere if the Phillies continue to disappoint. It's not like their fans are the kindest in the world. They did boo Ryan Howard last night, right as he ruptured his Achilles tendon trying to leg out a grounder to extend Philadelphia's season.
Phillies fans shouldn't be looking for any particular scapegoat. The whole team lost the LDS, plain and simple. Lots of blame is going to be placed on Howard, who did seemingly nothing after his first five at bats. Lee, though, is deserving of blame. Staked to a 3-0 lead in Game 2, with his counterpart Carpenter removed after three innings, Lee couldn't hold onto the lead and was hung with the loss. If Lee held onto the lead, the Phillies sweep the Cardinals.
Maybe the fans will always be supportive of Lee, but the environment will continue to sour unless the Phillies deliver championships.
Either way, it's quite satisfying to see another dream team out. The Rangers, who lost out on Lee, are still playing baseball in October while the dream rotation watches it on television.