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David Brown

Phillies' Cliff Lee overdue for metamorphosis into inflatable mascot

Big League Stew

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The time is right for Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee(notes) to ascend to Zooperstardom.

No, I did not just contract a case of the Schwarzeneggers and start pronounzeeng my vords like an Austrian bodybuilder-come-actor-come-Culifornia guvernator.

Cliff Lee's already a superstar, but he should become a Zooperstar.

Minor league fans are probably more familiar with the Zooperstars, a troupe of traveling inflatable mascots that — by way of the pun — combine the features and traits of lovable major leaguers with "like"-named animals or insects.

These lovable creatures go from ballpark to ballpark and playfully wreak havoc on the field and in the stands, duping players, coaches and umpires into their shenanigans. Kids love 'em and adults can't help but enjoy the cleverness (or near-cleverness) of it all.

For example: Derek Jeter(notes) transforms into ... Derek Cheetah.

Ken Griffey Jr.(notes) magically becomes Ken Giraffey Jr.

Cal Ripken used to be Cal Ripken. No more. He's Cow Ripken (above).

Nomar Garciaparra(notes), naturally, turns into ... Nomar Garciaparrot. (Oh, that stings.)

Mia Hamm > Mia Hammster (Zooperstars have no sport or gender restrictions).

Watch out! Clammy Sosa and Roger Clamens will getcha!

Ichiroach Suzuki? OK, that one isn't the most complimentary thing ever applied to Ichiro(notes).

As for Lee, who won the AL Cy Young a season ago and who might garner votes for National League awards at the rate of his performance, it's only fitting that he mutate into ...

Cliff Flea!

See below how it might be done.

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Because the common flea isn't as adorable, or as adaptable, as — say — the goose is to Pee Wee Geese, I have spliced the characteristics of Cliff Lee; with a flea market logo I found on the Interwebs; with a cartoon drawing of the bassist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers — who is known as Flea.

The result is ... kind of frightening, but it can be tweaked so as not to alarm the kids.

UPDATE: Another possibility ...

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Cliff Leemur! Thank you, commenter!

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The real pros at Zooperstars will come up with the final design, but I hope inflatable Cliff Flea somewhat resembles my guy and joins the Zoo.

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