This morning's headline is brought to you by C.J. Wilson's favorite website, Jorge Parrales and Jacob Herrera's Cliff Lee Facts. Here's another fact, courtesy Jeff Francoeur, who recounts in this morning's New York Times how nervous he was during dinner before Game Five against Tampa Bay. Cliff Lee, however, was not. Because Cliff Lee does not get nervous. Says Francoeur:
"If I've got one guy pitching in the postseason, I want Cliff Lee. He sits in the dugout and he just knows what he's going to do. What he did at Yankee Stadium was the most impressive pitching performance I've ever seen. He went out there knowing he was going to strike these guys out and knowing they weren't going to get a hit off of him. I was glad to be a part of it. I hope I see two more this series."
Another fact: Cliff Lee wasn't always Cliff Lee. Like in 2007. That, writes the Houston Chronicle's Richard Justice, is the year the Houston Astros -- among other teams, many other teams -- passed on Cliff Lee. And Cliff Lee learned from that. Cliff Lee doesn't like being passed over.
"It was the first time I had really struggled to that extent in my career. There were guys in Triple-A pitching better than I was, and I ended up in the minor leagues, and someone took my spot. That's really the way it should be, and I used that as motivation to come in the next year and to prove that wasn't the real me. ... I feel like it's made me a better player. In a nutshell, that's basically it."
Also good to know: Cliff Lee holds a grudge. Which is why he wouldn't have minded facing the Phillies in the World Series. From the Philadelphia Daily News:
"It would have been a lot of fun. When a team gets rid of you, it's funny how you have a knack for stepping up a little more when you face them. There's a little more incentive to beat them, and that's definitely the case with me watching them."
Cliff Lee is starting in Game One of the World Series for the second consecutive season. No one's done that since Jack Morris back-to-backed in 1991 and '92. This, from Sports Illustrated's Joe Posnanski:
This is one of the more exciting World Series Game 1 matchups ever, no doubt about it, with a two-time Cy Young winner in Lincecum, against a Cy Young winner and resident artist in Cliff Lee. And they'll be pitching in a pitcher's park, with just about every hitter in both lineups likely feeling some World Series jitters. Lincecum vs. Halladay in the NLCS was exciting -- and Halladay's Game 5 performance with a pulled groin is memorable -- but I'm not quite sure that either game quite lived up to the hype (that, admittedly, I was pushing as hard or harder than anyone else). This game won't have quite the same hype, I don't think. But it could, should be terrific.
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