It doesn’t happen often, but I can honestly say I was shocked when I first heard the rumors leaking out that Cliff Lee had decided to sign with the Phillies, and not the Yankees or Rangers who had been pursuing him so strongly. Why was I so surprised, and quite frankly relieved?
1. It was my belief that Lee was only about the money..period. So did the Phillies, which is why they traded him prior to last season. Yes they wanted to restock their minor league sysytem, blah, blah, blah, but really they got the feeling from Lee that he was going to ask for the moon, and the Phils didn’t want to deal with it.
2. The fact that the Phils did trade him away could have created enough bad will that Lee would not have wanted to return. Apparently no hard feelings.
3. The Phils entered the race late, and as an “unnamed thrid team”. Usually the unnamed team never exists, and is created by an agent desperate to generate a bidding war, and that team obviously NEVER ends up signing the player. This time the phantom came to life with a vengeance.
1. For the first time that I can remember in recent history a player turned down more years and more money to actually pitch for the team he wanted to pitch for. The siren song of waving boatloads of money in a player’s face (sung sweeter by the Yankees than anyone else) didn’t work. Hopefully the spell cast upon players by agents and the Union has been broken, and others will follow his lead to player where they want to play, not necessarily where they will get paid the most.
2. No ” I owe it to the other players in baseball to get the best contract I can” bullshit speech. What you owe to baseball and other players is going where you you want to go (not where your greedy agent, or Players Association wants you to go), are going to be the best fit, be needed, be able to make the most difference, and enjoy your time there so you will perform your best for your team and the fans.
3. Lee, Halladay, Hamels, Oswalt in the same rotation…WOW! I love seeing greatness in the game, and this may be one the greatest starting rotations the game has even seen. Kudos to Haladay by the way, for his not needing to be the highest paid player either. When egos are put aside good things tend to happen.
Yes, Cliff Lee will still be paid an incredible amount of money for many years, and given his talent he should be. But he did break the mold that many had thought he fit in, including myself, and in doing so maybe sent a message to other players that it’s ok not to be all about being the highest paid player in the game.
Congratulations to the Phillies and Cliff Lee for surprising all of us. I wish them both a long and happy marriage.