Cliff Lee thought he’d spend the rest of his baseball playing life in Philadelphia, saying “[a]t first I didn’t believe it. I thought we were working
out an extension with the Phillies. I thought I would spend the rest of
my career there.” Ruben Amaro had other ideas, obviously, and it sounds like he was scared off by Lee’s demands with respect to an extension:
“We made what we thought was a pretty substantial offer. We had some
preliminary discussions, but other than that . . . it was amicable. Like
I said before, I just didn’t feel comfortable that we were going to be
able to get to the finish line. And so we ended up moving toward the
If Lee’s desire to stay in Philly was a deep one, you have to wonder if his agent didn’t come on a little too strong in the opening rounds of negotiation. I mean, I think if the Phils are only going to go with one of the two aces they chose the right one — Halladay is simply better than Lee — but in light of how quickly the team pulled the plug on Lee, it’s not hard to picture a situation in which Lee’s representation made it really easy by leading with an overly-stiff offer.
For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:
The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).
It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: