When the Yankees and CC Sabathia began the highly public dance that culminated in a seven-year, $161-million contract, his wife Amber’s desire to be in New York played no small role in the negotiations. Early reports suggested she was hesitant about raising her family in the city, but eventually, the two sides were able to compromise on the situation. Today, a few weeks before the Yanks can negotiate with Cliff Lee’s camp, Kristen Lee is making her presence felt.
As USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported today, Mrs. Lee said she had a very unpleasant experience in Yankee Stadium during the playoffs. Reportedly, Yankee fans sitting near the Rangers’ wives were throwing cups of beer, screaming obscenities and even spitting. “The fans did not do good things in my heart,” she said. “When people are staring at you, and saying horrible things, it’s hard not to take it personal.”
Of course, since this is New York and the Yankees are involved, the story — two simple sentences — has spread like wildfire. Rob Neyer, never one to miss an opportunity to bash the Yankees, now puts the team’s chances of signing Lee at “well south” of 50 percent. CBS’ professional hater Gregg Doyel believes there is “No way he goes there after the way NYY fans treated his wife in person, and now on the internet.” (Apparently, some fans have been less than kind to Mrs. Lee on the Internet today. Can you imagine that? Bad things said about someone on the Internet. Why I never.)
Putting things in perspective is ESPN New York. Andrew Marchand spoke with Darek Braunecker, Cliff Lee’s agent. He had this to say: “The story is not an issue to us. Her experience in New York is certainly a nonissue. She enjoys New York as much as anyone enjoys NY.” Marchand also stresses, rightly, so Kristen’s close friendship with Amber Sabathia.
So what’s going on here and should we be worried? The polite side of me wants to lash out at Yankee fans rude enough to taunt and spit on opposing players’ wives during a playoff game. The cynical side of me sees this as a negotiating tactic designed to send a message that the Yanks will have to sweeten their deal to lure the Lee family to New York. But that’s not really news crazy enough to feed the 24-hour sports beast. There ain’t nothing to see here.