So let's start here: I don't buy it. I don't buy that a person with a beating heart and fully operational stomach and sweat glands in his palms could pitch his first World Series game and not feel nervous. Not at all? And this wasn't just any World Series game. This was Game 1 of the World Series, and this was against the New York Yankees, and this was at Yankee Stadium. Not nervous? Ridiculous. Inhuman. I don't buy it. Heck, I'm nervous writing this column.
And yet ... how can anyone doubt
"Not nervous at all," Lee insisted when asked if he was just joking around about not being nervous. "It's been a long time since I've been nervous playing this game. It's what I've been doing my whole life."
Yes, well, major leaguers, they have ALL been doing this their whole lives. But they get nervous. They have trouble sleeping the night before. They throw up before games. They pace the clubhouse. They endure the butterflies that flap around in their bellies because ... well because that's what it is like to be alive.
And yet ... did you see him out there?
The numbers are staggering enough. Lee threw a complete game -- something no pitcher has done in Game 1 of the World Series since
But the numbers don't give us quite enough. They don't capture the story of a pitcher who grew up in Arkansas dreaming (like many kids dream) of pitching in the World Series. Two years ago, Lee was struggling so much that the Cleveland Indians sent him back to the minor leagues. He worked his way back, won the Cy Young award in 2008, got traded to Philadelphia the very next year, and suddenly he was pitching in Yankee Stadium, in hungry New York, against one of the great lineups in baseball history. Suddenly, he was surrounded by the New York rage and the ghosts and -- hey, there's
"There's no sense in getting nervous and worried," Lee would say.
Right. No sense in getting nervous. There's also no sense in slipping on ice, hitting your head when getting something from under a table or choking momentarily on a piece of steak, but people do these things anyway. Not nervous? Impossible. And yet these weren't just words. He pitched like he wasn't nervous. He acted like he wasn't nervous.
Maybe the only person who can explain is Philadelphia manager
"Most of the time when he starts a game, and he's in control of the game, and everything around it he's controlling -- he's throwing strikes and he's getting the ball, what I call he handles the flow of the game, if you know what I mean. Everybody about it. The flow of the game, the way the game goes.
"Not only does he have command of the game, but he has the flow of the game. To me he sets the tone by his rhythm, getting the ball back, and he knows what he's going to throw. I like the way he pitches. I like everything about how he goes about it. But that's part of his success, too, is the fact that's how he handles the game."
OK, I have absolutely no idea what Charlie's talking about. But I've got to believe the secret to the success of Cliff Lee is in there somewhere.
Whatever Lee's secret, the Series certainly has become very interesting. The Yankees didn't just lose Game 1. They lost at home. They lost with their ace on the mound. They lost in a way that showed they are anything but invincible. They lost and are now counting on the utterly unpredictable
And perhaps the most telling statement after Wednesday's game was when Yankees manager