Cliff Lee expectations and expectorations

Yankees players under contract for the 2011 season
Open Thread: New Sod

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.

Yankees players under contract for the 2011 season
Open Thread: New Sod
  • Carlosologist

    Texas’ offer to keep Lee: 5/115
    Yankees’ offer to get Lee: 6/140

    Welcome to New York, Cliff.

    • Zack

      This. $140m and and a private suite at YS will make her feel better.

      • CBean

        Like I said, if it doesn’t, I’m sure we can find him a new wife.


        • Joe West’s Music Career

          volunteering….. to be the new wife?

          • CBean

            Yes. I mean, I only do it for the Yankees.

        • Erica

          Count me in the running to be Cliff Lee’s new wifey too!

        • first time lawng time

          Too scruffy for me…pass.

          • CBean

            The Yankees will make him shave. Though I happen to like the full beard. I didn’t like that gross thing he had on his face during the playoffs.

            • king of fruitless hypotheticals

              if it means 3 more rings and half of 140MM…I WILL BE HIS NEW WIFE.

              however i’m not shaving my beard for girardi.

              if cliff says so, i’ll shave it–but not for girardi.

  • first time lawng time

    My opinions:

    1. Fans shouldn’t be jerks and should learn to have class (ie. you don’t spit/throw beer at a girl, or anyone)

    2. Mrs. Lee shouldn’t be stupid (and by stupid not in terms of intelligence or to disrespect her, just IDK what I mean by it, but not that way) and should know that fans were only doing that because her husband was pitching against their team. They’re OBVIOUSLY not going to do that if he pitches in NY for the Yankees (and he pitches well)…thought that would be kinda obvious?

    Basically that shouldn’t be a legitimate reason to push her husband away from signing.

    • king of fruitless hypotheticals

      Seriously. Can you imagine booing players on your own team?

  • aldot

    Is it only me or does anyone else think this is a bullshit story. Spit on her? Threw beer on her? What she says happened is that people stared at her. STARED AT HER!! BFD. I’m sure nobody said “horrible things” to her personally — maybe about the Rangers generally. To me this is a non-story.

    • first time lawng time

      Yeah. I was thinking that too. She sits in the family section…isn’t that in the Legends Section?

      Yeah a bunch of a rich guys in business suits are really gona spit at her, let alone recognize her.

      Unless she’s sitting in the bleachers, I don’t think that would happen. Even if it did, pretty sure security would keep it under control, especially considering who she is.

      • ZZ

        The family section at YS is in Section 226.

        • first time lawng time

          Oh. I’m pretty sure security would keep it under control.

          I still can’t believe the story is true though. At least the spitting/throwing beer stuff.

    • JerseyDutch

      Agreed. I call bullshit. I could almost see this happening in the bleachers and even then it’s a stretch.

      • Murakami

        Some guy did throw a beer, but at least 10 people on the back row of 226 (I and my GF among them) immediately tried to locate the offending person, pre-empting security.

        Mrs. Lee was not targeted by the drive-by beer thrower, because it was thrown from the back of that section and all the little wifies were in the front few rows. Who spit on this chick?? She’s out of her mind, or simply trying to leverage the situation.

        No one cared about her, or even knew which mop of hair she was. The last thing on my mind was the Texas wives and families, or signing Cliff Lee this winter.

        • JerseyDutch

          So there was an ounce of truth to the story and the MSM blew it all out of proportion. That’s a shocker.

        • It’sATarp

          there’s actually pictures of fans doing it though…Mist May Teanor or w/e her name is posted them online

  • Stephen R.

    Very nice job, Ben.

  • Jerome S

    What is we do buy Cliff Lee this offseason, but his back acts up or something and 2011 ends up being a dud?

    • Kiersten

      What if Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriuez, Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano and CC Sabathia are all hit by a bus?

      • Zack

        We’d blame Arod of course

      • CBean

        /finds wood
        /knocks on it

      • YankeesJunkie

        The Yankees go on the biggest draft and international FA binge known to man. Honestly, it would be ridiculous. DotF would be 5 pages long a night for a few years.

      • Big Stein

        collect the insurance.

      • Brian

        Bush’s Fault!

    • Slugger27

      then that would suck…


    • Murakami

      Well, at least now, if his back gives out, we don’t have to mourn Jesus Montero, who would be hitting bombs for Seattle, even in that park. It would only be money unwisely spent.

  • ZZ

    I don’t read Neyer, but is he really that dumb or is he just going after page views?

    • Tom Zig

      Page views I’d assume. Neyer strikes me as a pretty intelligent guy.

      • FIPster Doofus

        Neyer is an intelligent guy when he’s not talking about the Yankees.

  • FIPster Doofus

    Gregg Doyel is completely devoid of any brain cells, so the fact that he thinks Lee won’t be a Yankee is a positive.

  • Ross in Jersey

    I find it hard to believe that stadium security, who were on the war path that night, wasn’t around protecting the opposing family section? To me, this means one of two things:

    1) Mrs. Lee is grossly exaggerating how she was treated,

    2) She didn’t bother complaining to stadium security about the fan behavior, or she left out that the offending fans were ejected.

    In either case, somehow I doubt we’re getting the whole story, which makes this seems like one big ploy for attention or some kind of cheap bargaining tactic.

    • Zack

      Not only security, but there are ushers at the top of every section- I was in the standing room in LF v the Twins and the ushers kept an eye on everything and stopped every small thing before it got to the next level.

    • first time lawng time

      Even if it is the whole story, that seems like a pretty illogical reason to not sign somewhere.

      Irrational fans are not going to treat you like that if your husband pitches for their team.

    • pat

      The visiting team family section is guarded by two uniformed police officers. I think this might be a little overblown.

  • Kiersten

    It’s said that $120 million has the power to erase memories.

    • Tom Zig

      I think it winds up being closer to 140. Yeah 140 over 6 sounds about right.

      • nathan

        He will pitching at age 38 and 39. Yikes !

        • Tom Zig

          That’s life.

          You have to pay for bad times as well as the good.

          Would it be nice to get Lee on a 4 year deal? Sure it would. But it aint happenin

  • Jake LaMotta’s Left Hook

    This is why I hate the Media:

    Fans of the Yankees will ‘hate this’ and those who hate the Yankees will love this and believe it even if it isn’t true.

    Some people who hate the Yankees still believe Eiland was fired instead of ‘let go’.

    • first time lawng time

      Some people who hate the Yankees still believe Eiland was fired instead of ‘let go’.

      Fans of other teams actually know who Dave Eiland is?


      • nathan

        Atleast for a day. When the reports said Yanks first move was to fire Eiland.

  • Dirty Pena

    “The fans did not do good things in my heart,”

    Hours after reading this line, I still have no f’ing clue what it means.

    • first time lawng time

      LOL. I think she meant to say, “The fans have no place in my heart,” but said that instead.

      Kinda weird lol

      • Dirty Pena

        That would still be weird to say.

        • first time lawng time

          Yeah. But it makes more sense than what she actually said.

      • Murakami

        How on earth will Yankee fans go on?

    • FIPster Doofus

      That line has annoyed the hell out of me all day.

      Is she saying the fans shrunk themselves, went inside of her body and did bad things to her heart?

      • rek4gehrig

        LOL…Totally LOL

  • Guest

    I think the fact that the agent jumped in so quickly to diminish the importance of Mrs. Lee’s statements leads me to believe that this was not a bargaining tactic thought of by Lee’s business people. Otherwise, he would leave the statement out there for a while in order to try and make the Yanks think this just might be a big deal.

    Likely, Mrs. Lee does have genuine concerns about NYC. Lots of people from areas like Little Rock have concerns about NYC. Her family is closer to Texas. I don’t think this a ploy.

    But, as Ben noted, the dollars can/likely will make up for that.

    As a related aside, the MSM must love this story. Just like with CC, they needed something to create drama around Lee’s impending free agency. With CC, it was his dislike for the east coast and his wife. With Lee, it will be…his wife (and maybe the “good feelings” associated with his run with Texas). This is necessary because…well…its dumb to leave tens of millions of dollars on the table. Most people wouldn’t do that. Most people shouldn’t do that. So, given this, they need some other story to try and convince people that Lee to the Yanks isn’t the foregone conclusion that it likely is.

    • hornblower

      If the best Yankee fans can do is hope for Cliff Lee I suggest they move on. Any agent worth his fee wants to keep the Yankees in the mix. They should get out and not be used.
      Let Lee sign with whoever and let the Yanks produce their own pitchers. It may take a while but so be it.

      • Dirty Pena

        What possible reason could you have for suggesting it would be better to take a few years off from making the playoffs rather than get “used” because a player wants as much money as possible? Keeping in mind that most human beings want as much money as possible. In. Sane.

        • hornblower

          I realize that many Yankee fans expect the team to win the WS every year. From 81 to 95 under the Big Stein craziness they put some terrible teams on the field. Only when he was suspended and an extraordinary group of young players showed up did they turn it around. You can sign all the FA’s you want but without a core of your own there is no chance of extended success. The Sox, Rays and Jays have terrific young players. They will be tough to beat in the next few years. Unless the Yanks keep up they will have a difficult time competing.
          Adding Lee at $25 mil without any big salaries coming off this year is unlikely to happen. The Stein kids run the Yanks like a business unlike the old man.

      • Joe West’s Music Career

        Two reasons this makes no sense.

        1) Agent wants to keep em in the mix….. because they will likely be the high bidder. And win. Most of the time, agents are trying to get the best offer, and if that’s the yankees, they’ll get him.

        2) Let’s say that what you are suggesting, that the yankees are being used to drive up the price for the team he actually wants to sign with. If this is true, it’s still better for the Yankees to play along. The Yankees are better off if their opponents have to pay more. Period.

        They should be in regardless, unless they don’t want the player.

  • Jake Barnes

    If it did happen it would be funny irony if people who “love” the yankees that much to act like uncivilized morons would end up costing their team their long coveted other ace. Funny until AJ Burnett starts a big game that is.

  • Big Stein

    She’s been watching “Taxi Driver” again.

  • steve s

    FWIW I was sitting a section over from the Texas family section during Game 4. They were completely uninhibited and demonstrative in rooting for Texas and I saw no harassment whatsoever going on (most of the Yankee fans by mid-game were simply numbed into silence and despair once Teixera crumbled to the ground).

    • first time lawng time

      Don’t worry, the media will fail to mention any of this.

    • nathan

      Dont you know, you were doing it. Rob Neyer saw it too.

    • Murakami

      I was in Section 214 for Game 4, and I could HEAR the Texas revelers from my section, and see them as well.

      They were as vocal and bush as they had been when I was sitting in 226, and were again brazen in their rooting when the score was again unspeakably lopsided.

      Cry me a fucking river, Mrs. Lee.

  • Ari G

    Those ushers are like hawks in the stadium, anyways how would drunk fans know that she was cliff lee’s wife

    • Murakami


    • Kit

      Exactly. Unless she was wearing a sign reading “Mrs. Cliff Lee” and was alerting everyone in the vicinity of that section, who would know. I honestly call bullshit.

    • rek4gehrig

      Yeah. Did she have a Mrs Lee on her jersey or what? Jeez

  • Bulldozer

    Worried about all the aging salaries. Spend today and hangover in a few years.

  • Xstar7

    I think Mrs. Lee needs to get some things straight.
    1. Drunken fans of any team of any sport anywhere will throw beer at you if you’re the wife of the man who is beating their team.
    2. “The fans did not do good things in my heart” is grammatically incorrect.

    • first time lawng time

      2. How is it grammatically incorrect? (I feel like I should know this because I’m so anal about grammar lol)

      • Xstar7

        I guess it’s not grammatically correct but it doesn’t make sense.

        • first time lawng time

          Haha yeah. I don’t really know what she meant by it lol.

          • Dirty Pena

            Maybe for $140 million, the Lees can invest in Hooked on Phonics.

            Worked for me!

            • first time lawng time

              Lol nice one!

        • Bulldozer

          Some of the fans were heart surgeons and did bad things in her heart.

      • FIPster Doofus

        She should have just said, “The fans were unkind, and I took it to heart.” The way she put it makes no sense.

  • Bryan L
  • first time lawng time

    “When people are staring at you, and saying horrible things, it’s hard not to take it personal.”

    Saying horrible things, I can understand being bother by. Staring at you? Get over it.

  • Alex S

    This makes me think. How did these supposed fans know what the rangers players’ wives look like?

    • Murakami

      Because Section 226 is where the Yankees stash the visiting team’s family members.

      Besides, you could not miss this group, which was extremely into needling with their rah-rah chants, even when the score was 8-0.

      They were a pain in the ass all night and certainly enjoyed tweaking people around them. When they got some beer tossed at them, they failed to make the connection.


  • Jay

    In fairness, there is no way to know if this report is true or false. If true, the agent would be covering it up in fear that other teams would think the Yankees were out of it. If false, the agent would be covering up because it’s a stupid non-story. I’d like to think it’s more B then A, but regardless, $160 million dollars makes any wife feel better.

  • rek4gehrig

    She should have sat in the bleachers. The fans there would’ve treated her much better

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

    I blame Lady Gaga.

    • Big Stein

      I blame Charlie Sheen.

  • JerseyDutch

    Blame Canada.

  • Xstar7

    Blame Espn for blowing things out of proportions. All those Yankees haters at Espn just wish the Red Sox were the frontrunners to sign Cliff Lee this offseason.

    • Murakami

      ESPN couldn’t even get the section right.

      They said it was the bleachers. 226 is in main, down the third base line; nowhere near the bleachers.

  • mustang

    I’m sorry, but this story sounds like its full of shit. I mean you can’t even look at someone the wrong way at the Stadium without having 20 cops around you especially in the playoffs. So I’m to believe that fans actually threw beer and spit at the Rangers wives and didn’t get a NYPD beat down.

  • Lisa

    I would assume Mrs. Lee came to Yankee Stadium last year during the World Series to root her husband on yet no mention of being harassed then.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      She spit on us and threw beer on us that time.

      This year, it was payback.

    • Xstar7

      Probably because this year there was actually an entire section of Yankee Stadium filled with obnoxious Rangers fans. I think their behavior was a bit offending to the loyal Yankees fans who were in attendance. The Rangers fans Weren’t doing good things in our hearts so a few drunken fans decided to take action. I bet they didn’t even know it was Cliff Lee’s wife. As far as they were concerned she was just another Rangers fan Yankees territory.

      • Xstar7

        Supposed to say IN Yankees territory. typing on the IPhone is tough

      • Murakami


        I realize this chick is obviously a supreme narcissist, as well as a supreme asshole, but I doubt that anyone knew which of the zombie wifies was Lee’s, or even was interested in which one was Lee’s. It’s the ALCS, lady. Get over yourself.

      • Murakami

        Just out of curiosity, my GF looked up Lee’s wife’s photo.

        She looks amazingly like every other blonde woman who sat in those seats. One could not be distinguised from the other.

  • Murakami

    Look you people are focused on the fact that Cliff Lee’s stupid wife was in the group.

    I’m telling you, I am a civilized fan, and these people were not particularly interested in behaving like visiting fans.

    You do not go into another team’s building, and when your team is pounding the home team 8-0, wave your idiotic flags, yell “Yee-Haw!” and chant in the fan-base’s face. There were Texas people standing and waving their flags and refusing to sit down, although people asked them to do so in order to SEE the game.

    What did they expect people to do? extend a hand and say, “Gee, looks like your club has the momentum now! May the better team win”???

    • JerseyDutch

      Drunk Texans acting like assholes? That upsets my whole sense of reality.

  • Murakami

    I should add, this was nearly AN ENTIRE SECTION of Texas fans.

    It wasn’t some frail collection of wifies huddled together, and the Big Bad Bronx battering them with beer and saliva.

    You’d think they’d be smart enough to realize that a whole GROUP of SCREAMING people, rooting avidly for the opposition, might stand out in a stadium of dead serious Yankee fans. In fact, I’d say their bush behavior was very well tolerated, outside of the guy who threw the beer, who ever he/she was.

    • JAG

      You know, if it was in fact such a big section of Texas fans, it certainly seems more likely that one of THEM threw/spilled a beer and it landed on her than that a Yankees fan launched a beer over the whole section to get the wives, who were undoubtedly near the front of the section.

      Wouldn’t that be a funny resolution? “Lee’s Wife Realizes Rangers’ Fan Responsible for Beer Throwing, Lee Signs with Yanks as Result.”


  • Xstar7

    The Rangers fans are just shitting their pants there so surprised how well their team is doing where at the beginning of the season most of them could care less and were just counting down the days until the next Cowboys game.

  • Murakami

    One more thing: NO ONE was bothering this group of assholes during the game.

    The beer incident happened near the end, as I said, when they were ALREADY UP 8-0.

    If I’m up 8-0 in an away park, and I have been to many, I may smile or smirk, but I am certainly not going to try to incense the home fans or rub it in.

    They were rubbing it in. And when I say “they”, I’m talking male persons, too. The women and the men were bush in their behavior from the first pitch on, and I guess the more volatile among us – whoever he was – did something I, or you, would never do, even under duress.

    As for her being spit on, unless that happened AFTER the game on her way to the elevator or something, I can say with confidence there was no such event taking place during the game, I had the entire section in front of me and would have known if there was that kind of discord, even if I missed the primary event.

  • James

    Hey Remember when Scott Boras gave the Yankees a call at the 11th hour to try to snag Carlos Beltran from the Mets?

    Hey remember when Mark Teixeira seemed as though he really didn’t want to be a Red Sock and the Yankees swooped in and got a deal done later that day?

    Hey Remember when Mike Mussina would never ever pitch for the Yankees?

    Hey Remember when CC Sabathia’s wife was really concerned about life in New York City?

    I keep forgetting the Yankees just get used in these situations to drive up the bidding price from other teams! Oh wait a minute… no it isn’t… it’s that playing for the Yankees guarantees that A) Every year you will compete for a title (40 pennants since 1921 that’s about 1 every 2 years) B) You will indeed get paid like a rock star and C) You will live in fucking NEW YORK CITY aka … you can do anything you want at any time of the day.

    My spidey sense tells me that, like a few others, 6 years and 140 mil should get it done and if it doesn’t then 6 years and whatever million will. Suck on that Nolan Ryan.

  • Another Bronx Dynasty

    I guess the Lee camp is beginning to negotiate even before the World Series starts?
    Major porturing…if there was any merit to this story it would have broke before the team flew to Texas to finish the ALCS.

  • Another Bronx Dynasty

    Sorry – menat to say “major posturing”

  • dan

    she will be able to buy a rain coat with the millions the yankees give her hubby

  • Mike

    If he cares about his wife he will probably listen to her and pick Texas. If not, Cashman will probably pay him enough to buy a harem of wives. If the difference is marginal between us and Texas, he will probably pick Texas. Taxes and cost of living is a factor.