Phillies Should Hold Miami-Style Pep Rally Introducing ‘The Big 4’


Just replace the fat guy and the nobody.

We received another shocker in what could be the most surprising off-season in recent baseball memory last night when highly sought-after lefty ace¬†Cliff Lee unexpectedly decided to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies. Lee, who pitched for the Phillies in the 2009 World Series (and lost) also pitched for the Texas Rangers in the 2010 World Series (and lost). Clearly he prefers the bridesmaid status, and by signing with the Phillies he’s pretty much guaranteed another World Series loss this season.

Lee joins NL Cy Young Award winner Roy Hallday, three-time All-Star Roy Oswalt, and 2008 World Series MVP Cole Hamels to form the most intimidating foursome since Tombstone. Now the question becomes…how is Philly going to introduce their “Big Four”?

This is 2010, remember. A press conference no longer gets the job done. What’s exciting about a guy trying on a jersey and addressing the media with the same, cliche, “I’ll do anything to help the club” responses? Just watch the first three minutes of Carl Crawford‘s introduction to Boston…I think I just drooled on my keyboard. Even my man-crush Theo couldn’t spice that one up.

What we need is action — something that tells the fans “we are the greatest collection of talent ever assembled in any single place in the history of mankind.” Luckily for us, the Miami Heat already set the template for us.

Why can’t us, Philadelphia?

Just think, a capacity crowd of 43,647 pack into Citizens Bank Park. The entire stadium goes dark as the cheers begin to crescendo. Suddenly the video starts on the JumboTron:

  • Cliff Lee strikes out Nick Swisher looking on an 2-2 breaking ball.
  • Roy Oswalt pounces off the mound to field a bunt and throw a strike to second base to nail the lead runner.
  • Cole Hamels nearly picks off Matt Kemp at first base with a deceptive move.
  • Roy Halladay makes an extraordinary catch in right field while shagging fly balls during batting practice.

After that, the Philly crowd is in a complete frenzy as they try to decide whether to throw batteries or iceballs onto the field. Suddenly, the spotlight goes onto the left field bullpen entrance and you hear the familiar guitar riff and clapping intro to John Fogerty’s Centerfield. From the back of the bullpen, the Big Four emerge in full uniform and slowly start walking to the mound, each with his jacket draped over his pitching arm. They refuse to wave to the crowd as they walk toward the mound, quiet and focused on what they have to accomplish.

When they finally arrive at the mound, they each take their place on one of four rubbers located side-by-side in front of the mound. They each get into the stretch to throw a pitch. Behind the plate are four of Philadelphia’s sports heroes: Michael Vick, Rocky Balboa, Allen Iverson, and Eric Lindros. The Big Four simultaneously throw two-seam fastballs to their celebrity catchers as fireworks go off in center field.

After that they sit in chairs in a circle around the mound, where they field questions from this guy. He asks questions such as, “So, how many homeruns ah yous gonna hit dis yeah?” and reminds the Big Four to say hello to their mothers for him when they get home.

After about an hour of fielding questions, manager Charlie Manuel heads out to the mound to talk to his aces. After a few head nods and glove-covered utterances, Manuel finally pats each of them on the butt and they make the slow walk to the dugout– being sure to tip their caps ever-so-slightly to the roaring crowd.

If that doesn’t get you pumped up for this season, Philadelphia, check your pulse.


LeBron, Wade, Bosh, and…um…

So, who else we got on our team?

So, I don’t know if you heard, but LeBron James says he is going to play for the Miami Heat next season. I’m not going to get into the Dan Gilbert-fueled LeBron hatred— in fact I think LeBron made the smartest, if not safest, decision available.

Not only does he get to play with two studs, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, but now if the Heat flounder next season, it’s not all on LeBron. Had he chosen to re-sign with the Cavs or go to the Knicks or Bulls, their success would be entirely dependent on LeBron and his ability to lead them to the promised land. But if in two years the Heat still haven’t won, Miami will have some other players to share the blame.

After the initial “Holy crap this is actually happening” thoughts, the first thing that went through my head was the Miami Heat roster. Sure, they have three unbelievable players, but then who?

They reportedly traded Michael Beasley last night to make room for LeBron, so that leaves them with Mario Chalmers, LeBron, Wade, and Bosh. Not exactly the Dream Team.

It was also reported last night that Mike Miller will sign with them. Don’t get me wrong, Mike Miller is an excellent role player, but since they are supposedly paying him $30 million, that doesn’t leave much to fill out the rest of their roster.

The Heat situation reminds me of a video game in “Franchise Mode”. You select a team, in this case the Miami Heat. You put it on “League Draft” so that you get to choose your own team. You start out hot, choosing LeBron, Wade, and Bosh with your first three picks. “How did the computer let these guys fall to me!” you think to yourself, “I’m gonna be unstoppable!” With your fourth pick, you go to select another superstar, Dirk Nowitzki, but a dialog box with an exclamation point comes up on the screen: “Insufficient Funds. Please make another selection.”

Suddenly it dawns on you that you left the “Salary Cap” option on, and you don’t have enough money to draft any more players that you want. You go through trying to pick every player who you’ve heard of, but the dreaded “Insufficient Funds” box keeps bursting onto the screen. Finally you become so frustrated that you choose “let cpu finish draft” and you look at your final roster. It’s a dichotomy of the best players in the league and players who you thought had retired (or gone to the D-League) many years ago: LeBron, Wade, Bosh, Speedy Claxton, Kris Humphries, Aaron Williams, Ed O’Bannon, Bryant “Big Country” Reeves, Travis Best, and three players that the computer clearly made up with mismatched names like Santiago Suzuki and Yao Richardson.

You play one game before you realize it’s not really that fun playing with three superstars and a bunch of scrubs.

I have a feeling that’s what’s going to happen this season in Miami. They’ll be able to fill out the roster, but it won’t be the right combination of players to take the Heat to the Finals. Not this season at least.

There are two reasons the “big three” worked with the Celtics: 1) they had immediate, unbelievable chemistry that only happens when two of the big three are slightly over the hill and have been floundering with miserable teams for the past couple seasons, and 2) they had a solid supporting cast and bench, led by a phenomenal young point guard.

It’s pretty obvious that it will take some time for the Heat to gain a supporting cast, so this season will be more about point #1. How long will it take for LeBron, Wade, and Bosh to gel? Will they be able to share the spotlight, or multiple spotlights as LeBron put it? It remains to be seen, but one thing’s for sure. I can’t wait to watch this team play.

And I can’t wait to see Miami’s first game in Cleveland.


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