Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Lee Denied of Pepsi Clutch Award

On Wednesday, October 22nd at 7:00 on ESPN, Major League Baseball and Pepsi announced the 2008 Pepsi Clutch Performer of the Year. The winner was not the Indians' Cliff Lee, who I have campaigned for on the 'Pad for the last few weeks, but former Indian pitcher CC Sabathia.

Wait a minute?! C(hoke) C(hoke) Sabathia won a "clutch" award?!?! This is laughable for anyone who has followed Sabathia's career, particularly in the playoffs. Sure, Sabathia was money for the Brewers down the stretch, helping lift them into the playoffs, but he was rocked to the tune of 5 ER in only 3.2 innings in the playoffs for the Brew Crew, helping play them out of the chase for November. Where was "Mr. Clutch" for the Indians this season when he lost his first three starts (with an ERA of 13.50) on his was to a 6-8 AL season as the "ace" of a last-place club. Did the pressure of last year's playoffs get to Sabathia to start this season? In fact, last year for the Tribe in the playoffs, Sabathia came up small yet again with a 1-2 record and 8.80 ERA, including a crushing defeat in one of the Indians' three clinching chances to make it to the World Series.

Sure, CC may light it up when the lights are off or even dim, but put the spotlight, the glow and glamor of the playoffs and he crumbles like a pack of playing cards 289 pounds lighter than him. The fans of baseball (largely influenced by the media, no less) may think CC was the "Clutch" player of the season, but how can you take the award from someone who never lost?

Cliff Lee put up a 22-3 record for the same team Sabathia went 6-8 for. He had an ERA of 2.54 and halted numerous Indians team losing streaks with solid performances. Even in his three losses he never put up numbers worse than 5.2 innings and 5 runs and pitched 5 complete games and 3 shutouts.

Lee was the clutchest man in baseball this year, but that's OK. Let the Yankees or Dodgers sign Sanathia this offseason. He can get them 20 wins and maybe a playoff birth, but will never take a team much further. But then again, is that what clutch is all about? Going all the way? Cliff didn't have the opportunity to do that this season (by absolutely no fault of his own) but I look forward to him getting the chance next year.


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