Unless you live under a rock, you have heard Cliff Lee is coming back to Philadelphia. As familiar as this may sound now, think back to what your reaction was a little more than a month ago when this shocking announcement was made.
Phillies fans were in utter disbelief. They had many questions, all of which were difficult to answer.
How did the Phillies have enough money to sign the most sought after player on the market to a multiyear, multimillion dollar deal, especially after that being the main reason not to re-sign Jayson Werth?
Didn’t the Phillies just trade Lee one offseason ago? Why would Lee want to come back to Philly after how management treated him following the previous year’s World Series run?
All of these are very understandable, putting into question the reason which drove Cliff Lee to return to the city of brotherly love.
There are many reasons that people say why Cliff Lee chose Philadelphia as opposed to New York, Arlington or other cities that may have been in the hunt.
Two reasons clearly stand out.
The first is fairly obvious: Cliff Lee is committed to winning.
After he won the Cy Young Award in 2008 for the Indians, Lee became recognized in the national spotlight. He was traded to the Phillies in the midseason of 2009 and has not looked back since.
Lee has enjoyed two deep playoff runs, and in both of these, he was the featured pitcher on his staff. He has been treated with postseason success and loves pitching in big games.
However, Cliff Lee has been on the losing side of both of the last two World Series.
He has a bitter taste left in his mouth, with something not yet accomplished: a World Series ring to add to his resume.
The Phillies and their four aces give Cliff Lee the best chance at winning his first World Series. Lee is committed to winning, and no other team out there gave him the same opportunity. And who wouldn’t want to be in the same rotation as Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels?
Winning is definitely what keeps the fans excited, but this still does not completely explain why Cliff Lee came back to Philly. It is only one of the two reasons why he came back, and arguably the least important of two.
Cliff Lee was once just a mediocre college baseball player. He went to Meridian Community College and later transferred to Arkansas. He was drafted by the Montreal Expos but was never a standout player in their organization.
Back before Cliff Lee had any baseball career or fame, all he had was his family. He had his wife, Kristen, and his infant, Jaxon.
Jaxon was diagnosed with leukemia at four months old while Cliff was still in the minor leagues. He had a 30 percent chance of living. Lee could not believe the news and was in complete shock.
Jaxon suffered various setbacks during the process, but he fought through the cancer the whole time. Lee never liked to talk about the illness, even though he spent much of his time in the hospital.
Lee’s son received a bone marrow transplant that saved his life, and Lee’s performance on the field paralleled his son’s improvement in the hospital.
Lee’s son was diagnosed as cancer free in 2006 when he was five years old. But during the Lee family’s quick stop in Philadelphia more than a year ago, they found something that offered them insurance in case anything every happened.
The Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia is ranked as one of the top children’s hospitals in the August 2010 issue of U.S. News and World Report. The Lee family felt really comfortable with this hospital treating their son if anything ever came back up.
Cliff Lee is all about the family, his first priority even before baseball.
So why did Cliff Lee return to Philadelphia after all?
Maybe his return was about more than just the game: the security of his family.