You've probably been swayed by Cliff Lee. That's okay. We all have. We've all seen Lee go about his business with effortless abandon and nary a stumble, and at every moment it's been a pleasure, his tempo and his command and his professionalism sweeping over us like a soft satin blanket. He's been better than any of us could've ever imagined, and more, the experience of watching him has been accordingly pleasing. Cliff Lee, for all intents and purposes, has been perfect. Once you accept that even the best players will have their little failures, you understand that Lee has been everything he could've possibly been for this team, and for this fanbase.
Yet, Lee's imperfect perfection has come with an unforeseen downside - it's turned a certain fraction of the people against Felix Hernandez. Or, more appropriately, it hasn't so much turned them against him as it has altered the perception. Before, Felix was a blossoming ace. A king ascending his throne. A phenom who'd finally come around to reward the investment. After Lee, though, he became something else. Frustrating. Immature. Flawed. These are by no means new labels, but Lee's performance brought them back to the forefront, as people suddenly wanted more. They saw what was possible, and almost immediately the standards for Felix drew ever higher.
I get it. I've felt it. To be sure, Cliff Lee has spoiled us, and the experience won't soon be forgotten, even if he's gone in a week. He has opened our eyes to a whole new level of ability. But being jaded makes for no one's Sunday best, and I think we could all probably stand to take a step back and look at Felix on his own; look at who he is, and everything he can do.
Two years ago today, Felix Hernandez hit a grand slam off of Johan Santana. You can watch the video here, or you can scroll through the game threads. I know Felix wound up getting hurt a few innings later, and that kind of tarnished the occasion, but there's no taking it back. There's no taking back the fact that, two years ago today, Felix Hernandez hit a grand slam off of Johan Santana.
It's never been about Felix's history. It's never been about Felix's numbers, and it's never been about how Felix compares to other pitchers. From the beginning, it's always been about what Felix is capable of. And two years ago today, Felix proved that on any given day, he can literally do just about anything.
It is possible to appreciate Cliff Lee while still celebrating the other gift we've been given. Don't fall into the trap. Don't allow a glimpse of Cliff Lee to spoil the King. Because Felix is a rare gift indeed, and he who stares with too critical an eye is a fool. A spoiled, insatiable fool.