Hot Stove MLB Baseball: Are The Phillies The Four Ph-our Horsemen?

Today Yesterday just so happened to be the four-year anniversary of my lightly-read blog.

Don’t worry…this isn’t another “thanks for reading” hostage video. I did, however, want to once again express my appreciation to everyone who takes time out of their day to check in with the never-ending adventures of Jalen, Mrs. Bootleg and me. I also want to thank y’all for tolerating the occasional post that you might not give a damn about.

This…is almost certainly one of those posts. Or, maybe it isn’t. Either way, I won’t be offended if you’d rather spend some time checking out my archives. I mean, there is FOUR YEARS of free material at your fingertips. Meanwhile, this post will attempt to bridge nearly a quarter-century. The subjects: baseball starting pitching and old school professional wrestling. Hey, I warned you.

It all began with m’man Sam — one of my favorite TBG readers and committed Philadelphia sports fan. Since his beloved Phillies shocked the industry by signing the number one free agent on the market — starting pitcher Cliff Lee — Sam hasn’t stopped smiling. In fact, he posted the following to my Twitter feed:

“I’m trying to decide if I like ‘R2C2’ or ‘The Four Horsemen’ better as the [Phillies’] new rotation nickname.”

It took about R2C2 seconds for me to loathe the Star Wars play-on-words based on the first letter of the first names of the top four pitchers in Philadelphia’s rotation (Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee). As for “The Four Horsemen”…this had potential. Via Twitter, I express my preference to Sam:

“You know which one I prefer. Someone stitch Halladay a Ric Flair robe/Phillies warm-up jacket immediately.”

OK…for those of you who didn’t heed my warning above, a brief history lesson: There were the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse who you all some of you might remember from the New Testament. There were the Four Horsemen of Notre Dame who comprised the backfield of the 1924 Fighting Irish. And, there were hip hop’s Four Horsemen (Ras Kass, Kurupt, Killah Priest and Canibus) who released an album. Once.

There was a group of professional wrestlers in the mid-to-late 1980s who formed under the “Four Horseman” moniker. Quite frankly, this quartet is the closest match to the Philadelphia Phillies’ foursome. After all, comparing Cole Hamels to “Famine” or “Death” is just mean and likening Cliff Lee to Kurupt or Killah Priest makes NO sense. Let’s do this.

Roy Halladay — Sam and I initially disagreed on this, but I will not budge. Roy Halladay is Ric Flair. The similarities are glaringly obvious. Like Flair, Halladay is recognized as the most accomplished athlete sports-entertainer in his field. He threw 42 more innings and seven more complete games than any other starting pitcher on the Phillies’ staff. In pro wrestling parlance, Halladay is the embodiment of Broadway. While Halladay doesn’t have Flair championship pedigree, his 2010 regular season perfect game and postseason no-hitter is just as shiny as any big gold belt.

Roy Oswalt — Acquired at the trade deadline from the Houston Astros, maybe Oswalt is more “mercenary” than “enforcer”, but the Arn Anderson comparison still stands. Oswalt went 7-1 with a 1.74 ERA down the stretch for the Phillies, but might be most remembered for coming in to pitch the ninth inning — on the road, on two days rest — in game four of the NLCS. Oswalt took the loss in front of a raucous San Francisco crowd, but for the single most intense moment of that series, the Phillies called on Oswalt. Yup, he’s Arn.

Cole Hamels — Honestly, this one’s a lay-up. Check out any Tully Blanchard promo from 25 years ago and tell me it isn’t “Cole Hamels v1.0”. After Hamels was named World Series MVP in 2008, his face spent much of the next calendar year on my TV screen. Maybe he was selling authentic baseball apparel or showing off his Barbie doll wife, but Hamels is a worthy successor to the original World Television Champion. In fact, here’s the lovely couple from WAY back in the day! Or is it?

Cliff Lee — The newest member of the Horsemen, Cliff Lee is Barry Windham. Over the past few seasons, Lee has positioned himself to win a world championship. While he’s pitched well in the spotlight and earned critical praise for his postseason performances, Lee has fallen short of the gold. His decision to sign with the Phillies this week was as surprising — in storyline terms — as Windham’s defection to the Horsemen and, similarly, Lee joined at the expense of his relationship with a second-tier championship team.

Now, since Sam inspired this post, he should have the last word:

“We’re in agreement that CC Sabathia is Dusty Rhodes, right?”

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