It’s what we all desperately wanted for Christmas back in 2010: Cliff Lee to remain a Texas Ranger.
It took four years and several plot twists, but Lee will finally pitch again in Arlington. But this time, as the ace of the Philadelphia Phillies. Opposing Yu Darvish. On Opening Day.
In less than two weeks Lee and Darvish will duel in one of the Rangers’ most intriguing Opening Days in franchise history.
In 2010 the Rangers traded for Lee and the lefty helped them to the playoffs and then pitched them to their first post-season series win with a dominating performance in Game 5 at Tampa. He also had a huge win in the ALCS, shutting down the Yankees in Game 3. In the World Series he pitched brilliant in Game 5 but wound up taking the loss.
Afterward was an aggressive courtship by the Rangers to keep him in Texas. Jon Daniels, Nolan Ryan and Chuck Greenberg each made personal visits to Lee in his home in Arkansas, but – surprisingly – the pitcher turned down the Rangers and Yankees and chose the Phillies.
At the time Lee was Public Enemy No. 1 for shunning the Rangers. But, um, all the sudden that was a long time ago. The Rangers have lost another World Series since then. C.J. Wilson, Josh Hamilton and now Ian Kinsler have supplanted Lee as the bulls-eye of Rangers’ fans. And Texas has acquired its own ace in Darvish.
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Lee is now entering the fourth season the $120 million deal he signed with Philly. Last year he was an All-Star, going 14-8 with a 2.87 ERA. And Darvish, of course, sniffed last year’s AL Cy Young.
It’ll be one of the best pitching matchups on Opening Day. And it’s Lee’s first return to Arlington. Pass the peanuts, it’s time to play ball.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently writes a sports/guy stuff blog at DFWSportatorium.com and lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.