By Ann Liguori
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I love New York. Although I am not originally from New York, this displaced Midwesterner has called New York her home for over 30 years. But as much as we New Yorkers know that this is the greatest city in the world, it’s not for everyone and apparently, it’s not where Cliff Lee and his family wanted to be. It may seen insulting that Lee picked Philadelphia over New York, but I think it’s all about a team he feels he can win with and less about liking or disliking the Big Apple. Okay, it is insulting.
Forget about the much publicized ‘bigger’ contract numbers that New York offered, it could be that with Philadelphia loading up the contract on the front-end, perhaps he and his agent preferred the way the Philadelphia contract was structured? Yes, he left 30 million on the table. But what’s 30 million if you prefer living in another area and will be happier playing for another team?
Did Lee and his family have a problem with the Big City? A guy from Arkansas is not necessarily going to feel comfortable or fit-in in the Big Apple, but then again, Philadelphia is no small potatoes. Obviously Lee enjoyed his time in Philadelphia towards the end of the 2009 season and may figure he has unfinished business to attend to there.
Did Lee have a problem with the way Yankee fans treated his wife during game 3 of the ALCS? Was that the deal breaker? I don’t think so. Fan rudeness and unacceptable behavior, although I am against it, can happen anywhere and Philadelphia fans can be more than feisty. In October, after it happened, Lee said himself that it was a matter of a few fans acting like ‘fools’ and that would not affect his decision.
Was Lee turned off with comments from Yankees’ brass relating to Derek Jeter before Jeter and the Yankees came to terms with his contract? That can’t help. The Yankees aren’t shy about showing whose boss in terms of negotiating. Even though I know how difficult it is to write a story or talk about a story if all we hear is ‘no comment,’ I’ve always felt that, from a business side, there is more up-side for both parties involved to negotiate ‘in private’ and not leak any information to the press until the deal is completely finished.
Does Lee feel he has a much better chance of winning with the ‘A List’ pitching staff that Philadelphia put together? Bingo — I would think this would be the top reason Lee chose the Phillies over any other team. The top priority of most professional athletes is to win. And Lee must think he has a better chance at winning in Philadelphia than anywhere else. It’s that simple. It may be a hard reality for Yankees fans to swallow. I root for the Yankees and yes, it’s tough to see Lee go elsewhere. But add Lee to a rotation featuring Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt and you have one word – scary! Scary good. One of the best starting pitching rotations ever!
So as much as it hurts Yankees fans, don’t over-analyze Lee’s decision. He basically chose a team that he thinks he can win with. As insulting as that seems to Yankee fans, it’s refreshing that in his case, it doesn’t seem as if it was ‘all about the money.’
Be sure to visit Ann’s web site at www.annliguori.com and order a DVD copy of an interview with your favorite sports legend of a copy of Ann’s book, ‘A Passion for Golf, Celebrity Musings About the Game.’.