The Way You Make Me Feel

We stood and cheered when he walked from the bullpen to the dugout, as the PA announcer declared his name in pregame introductions for the first time since Game 5 of the 2009 World Series.

We rose to our feet and roared when he delivered a strike on the first pitch of his second coming.

We even leapt out of our seats to applaud his second inning strikeout, just because we had the chance to unabashedly express our brotherly love for him again.

Heck, had he stepped out of the dugout in between innings to scratch an itch, we would have celebrated his temporarily comforting himself.

Nine runs on fourteen hits. Eleven strikeouts over seven innings. All of those numbers were far exceeded by the amount of standing ovations Cliff Lee received in his eagerly anticipated return to Citizens Bank Park as a member of the home team.

This was the night nearly four months in the making. This was the date circled on our calendars. Opening Day is as perennial a guarantee as the coming of spring. It is not every year that Cliff Lee makes his triumphant return to the mound in a Phillies uniform.

There were no mysteries to speculate last night. The starter was listed as probable, but the adoration would be definite. After weeks of waiting, our beloved southpaw from Arkansas was back - one of us, once again.

We forgot about everything else last night. The Final Four seemed an irrelevant sporting extravaganza by comparison. Family obligations paled in comparison to the duty we had to attend this monumental reunion.

If not for the crack, even the Liberty Bell would have rung to honor the occasion.

We arrived at their seats well before the starting lineups were announced, just to be there to see it with our own eyes for the first time, the second time around. No matter the craving for food or the urgency to relieve ourselves, we stayed standing until the first pitch was thrown - and remained reluctant to leave our seats until even later than that.

What seemed so surreal on that cold December night not so long ago became so real with one pitch down the middle in a crisp April evening. Cliff Lee had chosen Philadelphia - had chosen us. And he was back to stay.

When we think about another person, we may not remember what they said or did, but we always remember how they made us feel. Years from now, we will overlook the three earned runs yielded. We will even forget how the Phillies offense scored all of those runs.

But we will never forget how we felt on April 2nd, 2011 - how Cliff Lee made us feel not with his talent, but with his mere presence.

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