“It’s Hard Not To Take It Personal”

I wasn’t at Yankee Stadium for the ALCS. I didn’t hear fans taunting family members of the Texas Rangers. And I certainly don’t know Cliff Lee’s wife Kristen. But according to USA Today via the LoHud blog, the fact that she’s miffed at Yankee fans could play a role in her husband’s decision whether to re-up with the Rangers this winter or wind up in the Bronx, among other possibilities. Here’s the pertinent excerpt:

Perhaps the Rangers’ greatest sales pitch simply was having Kristen sit in the visiting family section at Yankee Stadium during the playoffs. She says there were ugly taunts. Obscenities. Cups of beer thrown. Even fans spitting from the section above.

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

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

It’s more than likely that Kristen Lee did hear and see some “horrible things.” But was she on hand in Arlington when Rangers fans were chanting “Yankees suck” every six seconds? Did she never watch her husband pitch in opposing ballparks when he was with the Indians, Phillies or Mariners? While there’s no excusing bad behavior, it happens everywhere. I would think that by now the wife of a professional ballplayer as well traveled as Lee would have seen and heard it all, not to mention grown a thicker skin.

If she genuinely wants her husband to stay in Texas because she loves it there, because it’s close to the couple’s home in Arkansas, because it’s the best environment for her family, because the Rangers organization ponies up the biggest contract in the history of baseball, then by all means they should stay in Texas. But if she’s going around ragging on Yankee fans, I’m afraid I’ll have to take it personal. I just will.


  1. antonella

    I feel you 100%. Someone posted that fans were getting “bitched” at for throwing PEANUT shells on the floor.. WHY would they let them throw beer? Did she hear some profanity? YES, SHE SURE DID. She probably heard me screaming all the way from Houston.
    She sounds like one of those girls that never has a bad thing to say.. This whole situation NOW annoys me. I’m sick of hearing abt Clifford Lee [I’m assuming that’s his real name] I hope The Freak stomps him. [Not likely, but I’ll light a candle for him] LOL.
    PS- I bet Kristen was the main one leading the “Yankees Suck” chants.

  2. James Buxton

    The bad behavior happens in every ballpark, even here in Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Puerto Rico et al, nobody should be scared for that, it’s part of the game. Looks like this “Dame” has spent his entire husband career inside the exec Box or some VIP place.
    Shame on her!!

  3. Jane Heller

    LOL on the last line, Antonella. I don’t condone bad behavior by any means, and there are plenty who aren’t choirboys at Yankee Stadium. But there’s bad behavior at every ballpark in America (and Canada) and I’ve seen it.

  4. James Buxton

    I don’t condone bad behavior, but at least is not like the soccer stadiums here, when the beer they throw is mixed with some things I’m not going to explain in this blog….
    Baseball is a family sport, thank God.

  5. bellafoxx

    Since she was sitting in the section for the family of friend of Ranger players and I am sure she was wearing something that said “Texas Rangers” it would have been rather evident she wasn’t a Yankee fan. As the wife of the pitcher that was SHUTTING DOWN THE YANKEES, I wonder what kind of treatment she expected? Did she think we were going to great her with hugs and kisses?

    I am not condoning the throwing of beer and spitting etc., her comments seem to be condemning all Yankee fans for the actions of a few. And as has been said and repeated, fans everywhere misbehave.

    If I were to wear a Yankee shirt in Fenway Park, I would expect some ‘harassment’ from Red Sox fans.

  6. Jane Heller

    Sounds like watching a soccer match there is quite the experience, James. Everybody should wear raincoats! As I said earlier, there are insane fans everywhere. I seem to remember that a fan in Philly actually vomited on another fan recently, talk about gross.

    Bellafoxx, somebody on Facebook made an interesting point that if fans had been throwing beer at Mrs. Lee, the Yankee Stadium security people would have thrown them out within seconds – particularly since she was sitting in a VIP area.

  7. mary-andrews@excite.com

    Misty May-Treanor Tweeted a photo of people spitting on her. I didn’t like the Rangers fans chanting Yankees Suck, but there is a world of difference in that chant and personal verbal attacks. And throwing beer. And spitting on people. She didn’t condemn all Yankee fans, just stated that it affected her experience. I figured it was a few bad people, but after reading this blog and the comments…

  8. YankeeCase

    See, this is the kind of stuff that gets me mad. An article comes out like this with a skewed viewpoint, and all of a sudden it’s, “Oh, those degenerate Yankee fans!” As if we are the worst fans ever.

    I go into work today and this is the first thing the big Met fan there tells me. The crude and disgusting things that the fans supposedly did. How Yankee fans are the worst. I can’t deny that there were idiots there that did or said things, but to have this blanket accusation, or to even say that this group is the pinnacle of fan intimidation/stupidity is just pretty dumb and shortsighted.

    I seem to recall Boston fans tossing pizza at each other. And there’s your mention, Jane, of the Philly idiot who vomited on someone else purposely. There’s lots more of this kind of stuff that’s been happening as long as we’ve had sports. Unfortunately these things do happen, but let’s not lump all Yankee fans together. I can easily say, “Well, it’s all sports fans! No, maybe it’s all New Yorkers! No, no! Maybe it’s all Americans! Or all humans!!” In the end, it’s more likely just dumb people doing dumb things.

    I’ve seen security act pretty quick at Yankee Stadium, and not just at Yankee/Red Sox games where you may think the atmosphere is at pitch level for a scrum or too. So it’s kind of hard for me to believe that this experienced baseball wife, in a special VIP section that we were shown over and over again in the Texas wins at the Stadium, didn’t go over to a security guard and complain about something as disgusting as spitting? Those people would have been ejected quick, and I’m sure it would have been put to an end almost immediately. All I heard today was about this supposed intimidating and disgusting environment created by our fellow Yankee fans.

    Now in reading the article, your excerpt is all I see about this incident, Jane. I can’t say if there’s more to all this or not, but it sounds like people are blowing this thing out of proportion. Thrown cups of beer? Obscenities? Ugly taunts? I’m sure there was plenty of this, and perhaps more. But I don’t know if it would be any more than in any other stadium during the playoffs. Idiots will always act in idiotic ways. Before all those Yankee-haters start decrying Yankee fans, they should probably look in the mirror, or first into their own bleacher section…

    (and for a little further proof that these couldn’t be ‘real’ Yankee fans… why would you do such stupid things to the wife of the pitcher you so desperately want next season?!)


  9. devilabrit

    This, I am afraid, I have to find it amusing, because normally these things are directed at the Phillies fan base and it seems then all Phillie fans are fair game. As you say it does happen everywhere and when visiting a opposing team ball park you almost have to expect it…


    Phillies Outside

  10. mlbmom

    I can’t stand stories like this. One, because it categorizes a zillion Yankee fans based on the actions of one or two goons.
    Seriously, though. If she had just worn ANYTHING BUT Ranger attire, she could have flown under the radar and nobody would have known who she was. I understand supporting your husband, BLAH BLAH BLAH….but the reality is, the passion for baseball in New England is very different than it is in the south. I’ve seen games both places. No comparison.
    If you are brave enough to wear your Ranger gear in (temporary) enemy territory, don’t expect to be treated like a queen. Not gonna happen. Not in NY, or Boston. Or Philly. Or San Fran.
    It’s the playoffs. It’s intense.



  11. mel.tmottbg@gmail.com

    Those people were not true Yankee fans, or true baseball fans, just drunken idiots. What a shame that they were able to get tickets to that game when so many true fans could not.

    You know me, I couldn’t resist doing a little research. When a person is quoted saying a few lines and it becomes news all over, there is almost always more to the story. The media have, as usual, blown a story totally out of proportion and not reported all the facts. So I think we can cut Kristen Lee a break.

    Read this article:

    Here is an excerpt:

    “Some people get a little alcohol in them and act inappropriate,” Cliff Lee said. “There’s so many people there you can’t control them all. I know it’s been made into a big deal, but that’s really all it is, just two or three or four people just acting like fools, and 50,000, you can’t group them all together. But there’s always going to be a couple goofballs in the crowd that think they have a right to do that stuff.”

    In a text to ESPNNewYork.com, Yankees spokesperson Jason Zillo said that the Yankees are “not commenting.”

    On the flip side of Kristen Lee’s bad experience in New York is her close relationship with CC Sabathia’s wife, Amber. They have been close since Sabathia and Cliff Lee played together in Cleveland.

    I think Amber and Kristen need to have a meet up in the cafeteria Jane!

    There is a cute article in the Times today about Giants fans in NY – people who have been fans since they were the NY Giants.


    I have to admit to a pain in my heart when I see an World Series article and it doesn’t include the Yankees.


  12. mel.tmottbg@gmail.com

    Yikes! LoHud is reporting CC will have knee surgery! Not a huge big deal surgery, but he has a minor meniscus tear.


  13. diane.anziano@gmail.com

    Cliff Lee was very politically correct when he spoke to the press and they asked him about his wife’s experience at Yankee Stadium. I’m sure his agent told him what to say and what not to say – I’m not sure if it means that he wants to come to NY or if he’s just covering all the bases. Haha.

    My best funny experiences at Yankee Stadium with people over-indulging in alcohol has always been between Yankees and Red Sox fans. One Boston fan, a woman in her 40’s, was really poluted and when she sat down her hip-hugger pants were a bit revealing. The Yankee fan behind her said, “Hey, are you here for the plumbers’ convention?” — I turned around, giggled as I looked at him and said, “Hey, is that some kind of crack or something”. Our whole area was hysterical. In honor of our Yankees fans, I have to say that at the end of the game she was so gone that 3 of our fans walked her to the office on the main level to make sure she got out alright. Yeah for us.

    I really don’t care who wins the W.S. this year but if its Texas it may be difficult to get Lee away from them.

  14. kaiserthegreat

    Whether true or not, I think many people have the perception that Yankees fans are the meanest fans out there. I’m not judging, never been to their stadium, but ya hear things.

  15. Jane Heller

    Mary-Andrews, regarding the idiots who spit and/or threw beer on any of the Rangers wives, they should have been dragged out of the Stadium by security and I’m surprised they weren’t. If, on the other hand, you’re here to condemn Yankee fans in general, perhaps you should take in a game in the Bronx sometime and take a look around. You’d be surprised how civilized the vast majority of people are.

    YankeeCase, you make excellent points as usual (and you even included the url of your blog – yay!). When I wrote this post yesterday afternoon, I had no idea the subject was even a big deal. But if you heard about it at work and others are chiming in about it, I guess it has really struck a chord. It does seem to have been blown out of proportion. All I know is that spitting and throwing beer is disgusting but that, sadly, it’s not confined to a few jerks in the Bronx. I’ve been at ballparks around the country. I’ve seen worse.

    What kind of a comment is that, Paul? Does it warrant an answer?

    I agree, Peter. It happens everywhere, unfortunately, which doesn’t make it right. It just means it’s wrong to generalize about one particular fan base.

    Stories like this make me mad too, Wendy. But I think Mrs. Lee had a right to identify herself as a Rangers family member. It’s the “I take it personal” line that got me. Why take taunts personally? She was the enemy, as you point out. Now throwing beer and spitting, on the other hand….Anyhow, I just hate to see Yankee fans cast in such a harsh light, because we know differently.

    Cliff Lee was very diplomatic in his response to all this fuss, Melissa. And perhaps it would have behooved his wife to respond the same way. Alcohol does play a part in the bad behavior and it is a shame that idiots get tickets to playoff games when so many respectful fans cannot. But so it goes. As I said in the post, if the Lees truly feel that Texas is the place for them, then a friendship with CC won’t make a bit of difference. CC hasn’t had much luck in his recruiting attempts lately, btw. As for the knee surgery, I agree with LoHud. It doesn’t sound serious on the face of it, but all that weight on a surgically repaired knee. Oy.

    LOL, Jeff. Is it really that bad at Wrigley? Of course it is. Dumb question asking you that!

    Diane, your story made me laugh out loud! I’m glad it had a happy ending too. I guess Yankee fans aren’t ALL bad. As we’ve all said, it’s too bad that people act like jerks, but – and here’s a statement that’s hardly a news bulletin – people act like jerks everywhere.

    The meanest fans, kaiser? That’s funny. I always heard Oakland had a pretty tough crowd.

  16. phillies_phollowers

    I am so sick of the media and everyone else stereotyping fans of ALL teams across the board. There are bad fans, and just flat out bad people, in every city….no exceptions. I read two stories by San Francisco “journalists” in the last 2 weeks literally calling Philly fans name; these news people act like grade school bullies and it is shameful.
    As for the wives, some go to all the games, some hardly go at all. Lee’s wife has been dealing with a sick child for years so I can see if she doesn’t go a lot and is not used to the atmosphere. In that case, she probably was shocked. But the media did not need to jump all over it and generalize Yankees fans like that. These reporters should all be smacked.


  17. dschaub@gpo.gov

    Touchy, touchy we are today. Ouch.
    It’s never fun to have your fan base condemned. Yankee fans are/can be harsh, we know…IT’S NEW YORK…but everything I’ve read and heard about for DECADES tells me that the Dallas Ranger fans should be on their knees giving thanks that they didn’t play the Phillies, if their Texas-southern sensibilities are easily off-ended. I’ve forgotten more bad stories about Philly fans (mostly Eagles, but plenty of it all) than most of y’all will EVER wanna know. And I work with two Big Philly fans, and e-mail two others, and believe me, they make Yankee fans look like saints (but not Saints fans…laissez les bon temps roulez)!
    B4 gettin’ on the blog today, I read the brouhaha-article via ESPN. I was ready to wince, but thought that both Lees handled it well, and were NOT indicting the entire fan base (like I just did, I know — shame on me, and sorry, Philly bloggers, but I KNOW you know what I mean…snowballs at Santa Claus, booing losers of Easter Egg hunts, the whole nine yards…)
    The worry is, of course, that a few drunken Noo Yawk yahoos will poison the well for Cliff Lee, and he’ll want to stay in Dallas with all the drunken Texas yahoos. Well, fine. Methinx that if “The Unhittable One” (Son #2 refuses to call him anything else) pitches 2 or 3 more shutouts in the Series, wild horses won’t drag him outa Dallas. But let’s all wait a week or so, and see what develops.
    One last comment. SI went position-by-position with the two teams — Dallas was given the edge in EVERYTHING except first base, catcher, DH/bench, and…PITCHING. That was BOTH starting pitching AND bullpen. I leave it to you to draw your own conclusions…!

  18. ftyankeefan@aol.com

    I think the media needs Yankee news so they’ve been hyping the Kristen Lee story. I wish that people would get a perspective and not generalize so much. I’ve been to several away games where the Yankees were the visiting team and I heard “Yankees Suck.” It bothers me when we can’t just root for our team. But there will always be rowdy people, and I think the best we can do is just ignore them, and take the high road. It would be nice if people could be respectful of other fans and their teams.

  19. Jane Heller

    Sorry to hear about the Lees’ sick child, Jenn. Maybe Kristen Lee hasn’t been to a lot of games. I guess the media is hungry for a story about Lee and his free agency, so here we are. Plus, you’re right about the stereotyping. It’s the nature of the beast, I guess.

    I didn’t even know there was a brouhaha surrounding this story, Dave. I just saw the bit about Kristen Lee’s comments and decided to weigh on. Ultimately, I don’t think it’ll have much bearing on what team Lee decides to play for next year. Too many other factors for him and his wife to consider. As for the WS, despite the Yankees not being in it this year, I’m looking forward to watching tonight. Baseball is better than no baseball any day.

    Yes, there will always be rowdy, boorish people, Freya. And your advice is good: ignore them if you can! I tell my husband that every day when he gets upset on the freeways after some rude driver cuts him off!

  20. antonella

    James, funny you mention that. I’m Venezuelan & last time I went to a baseball game there.. let’s just say it was quite an experience! LOL. If you want to see rowdy.. take a trip to Maracaibo & watch the Aguilas play. My mother & I had to be escorted out after some drunken men got into a fight & someone threw a beer bottle [glass bottle] & the guys head was pretty much busted open. Needless to say, I don’t go to these games much. LOL.

  21. scofid

    If the taunts, obscenites, etc. were directed AT Mrs. Lee, then I am in full agreement with her comments. If they were directed at the team, then I agree she needs a thicker skin. When I went to Game 6 of the 2001 World Series in Phoenix, a Diamondbacks fan jumped in my face (literally two inches away) and was screaming insults and taunts at the Yankees. I did not do anything to provoke the incident, except wearing a Yankees cap, and I ignored the fan and kept moving without any further incident or contact. But I hold a very strong dislike for the D-Backs to this day because of the incident. The fan’s behavior was wrong and should not be tolerated.

  22. scofid

    If the taunts, obscenites, etc. were directed AT Mrs. Lee, then I am in full agreement with her comments. If they were directed at the team, then I agree she needs a thicker skin. When I went to Game 6 of the 2001 World Series in Phoenix, a Diamondbacks fan jumped in my face (literally two inches away) and was screaming insults and taunts at the Yankees. I did not do anything to provoke the incident, except wearing a Yankees cap, and I ignored the fan and kept moving without any further incident or contact. But I hold a very strong dislike for the D-Backs to this day because of the incident. The fan’s behavior was wrong and should not be tolerated.

  23. dschaub@gpo.gov

    Had to blog back in to Thank Melissa for that terrific story about old New York Giants baseball fans…LOVED it (and sent it to several friends)!!
    Years ago, when throwback apparel was still rare, I got a big kick out of ordering an old NY Giants cap in the mail. It’s still in my basement, sitting there proudly among the 40-odd other caps…(I have at least one from every team — yes, even the Hoseheads — stack ’em up on a vertical rack by League at the end of each season. It hurts so much to take the Yankee hat off the top rung that I haven’t gotten around to it…not just yet). Some of you young’uns may not know that when the Mets first designed their colors, they took the blue of the Bklyn Dodger caps, and mixed it with the fancy orange “NY” on the old Giants caps, and…voila. The more I read & think about this Series, the more I’m getting psyched up for the Jints…having said that, they’ll probably get squashed like a bug on a Texas truck-driver’s windshield — but then again, maybe not!! Mo’ beisbol…

  24. Jane Heller

    Sounds like an unpleasant experience at the Diamondbacks game, Scott, but you handled it the right way. I think what we’re all saying here is that there are bad apples everywhere and they shouldn’t spoil the reputation of an entire fan base.

    Good stuff about the history behind the Mets’ cap colors, Dave. I certainly didn’t know all that. I’m psyched about the Series too and hope the Jints can avoid getting squashed!

  25. raysrenegade

    The reputation and the behavior of a minority of the Yankees faithful has again risen and might have bitten another victim.
    Most fans give people visiting their stadium a level of respect and decorum deserving of an opponent, but some take beyond fan to fanatic.
    I was also treated like this on journeys to other stadiums, but then again I am not scared to walk solo into the lion’s den like the Bleacher Creature and by the end have them toasting with me.
    If the bond between the Lee’s and the Sabathia’s is that strong, one show of mis-aligned loyalty will not waiver a decison…But a World Series win and a possible chance to return could be more of a problem right now between the Yankees and Mr. and Mrs. Lee.

    Rays Renegade


  26. Jane Heller

    HAHA, you ventured into Bleacher Creature territory, Renegade. What a gutsy guy you are. Of course they toasted you in the end! Of course you’re right, and Lee’s decision will end up being less about the incident with his wife and more about the Rangers’ success in the WS. Stay tuned.

  27. theheirloom

    Jane, I have three observations here:

    – When I went to Yankee Stadium last season, I found no rudeness. Instead, I saw fans that wanted to cue me in on what was going on from a Yanks POV. That’s cool. If I wore the visitor’s cap, I’d get a different reaction. They truly stand by their aim to provide the best environment in baseball.

    – Rude fans are everywhere. My car got kicked in at Dodger Stadium in 1982 because I had a 49ers sticker on it. I was called a “f@#” at a Washington Wizards game – my only one I ever attended. I’ve heard plenty of vitriol at places from San Francisco to Boston. Is there any excuse for them? Not at all. Security can react the best way they can to resolve the issue. last week at the Xcel Energy Center, for example…with the Wild-Canucks game.

    – A week ago, I posted an open letter regarding another instance of rude behavior at the New Cathedral during the ALCS. Sensitivities being high on on particular messages in the midst of a cultural war, I wasn’t thrilled to read the reports coming from the outfield seats. Yankee fans knew they left an old building behind – behaviors should’ve gone with the wrecking ball. I’m not sure if Mrs. Lee or Mrs. Treanor had to hear that along with their alleged beer and saliva shower, but it doesn’t help the activists by using this instance to amplify an already heady situation.

    This is a tough subject, Jane. I struggle with it because I question how to react if the vitriol is going on within earshot. If we’re a civil society, then why do we still go crazy over stuff like this – without discussing prevention on both sides?

    – Randy

  28. Jane Heller

    Randy, I must be dense but I’m not sure I understand the “messages,” “cultural war” and “activists” references. Are you talking about things that Yankee fans did or said in Minny? Anyhow, as you point out, rude fans are everywhere and it sounds like you’ve experienced your share of them. The way to react in my opinion is to try to ignore the idiots and let security do its job.

  29. YankeeCase

    I visited Misty May’s Facebook page and saw all manner of Yankee hate under her posting of the pic of fans. Of course all those folks saying how classless Yankee fans and New Yorkers are must be angels themselves, or certainly aren’t embarrassed by what their own fans may do. Or whatever some idiot in their select group may say or do (political party? church group? book club? city/town?) I could say something about Red Sox fans, but it probably won’t be true about all their fans.

    Yeah Jane, as Dave said the Mets took colors from both the Giants and the Dodgers, trying to get those abandoned fans to root for the newly minted Mets. That’s also the origin of some Met fans’ hatred for the Yankees. (i think only the Red Sox can equal the hate we feel from them!) Pretty smart of those guys.

    It helps that those are the official colors of the City of New York as well…

    Speaking of the Giants… If anyone wants to watch the World Series and is missing out due to the Cablevision/Fox battle, you can sign up for Postseason.TV for only $9.95. You’ll get reimbursed by Cablevision for the ten dollars with a credit to your bill if you show proof of purchase with a receipt. If you don’t believe me, not-so-random internet guy, feel free to call their customer service line and ask. Or tune to channel 5, there’s a notice there.

    Speaking of the battle, the sides were reportedly close to a deal today. This was after Cablevision presented the FCC with evidence that Fox was not negotiating in good faith, which apparently has legal parameters. There was a one year deal in place where Cable was going to pay a fraction of the asked for price. But Fox was miffed for some reason and pulled out last minute. How do I know this inside info? Please don’t ask and get me in trouble…! lol

  30. Jane Heller

    Why did you torture yourself going on her Facebook page, YankeeCase? I stay away from stuff I know will upset me. You’re braver than I am, I guess. I heard about the reimbursement by Cablevision. I hope you’re able to watch the game on the computer at least. Cliff Lee is actually showing signs that he’s human. Giants are up 3-2.

  31. peppyp7@hotmail.com

    I can say from first-hand experience that Texas fans were brutal too. I traveled by myself from NM to Arlington to see our beloved Yanks take on the Rangers for games 1 and 2. As I was walking to my seat people literally screamed at me to, “get my Yankee lovin’ a*$ back to where I came from.” The taunts only got worse when I sat down at my seat. Now, was I all that shocked? Of course not, what did I expect going into their field wearing my Yankee gear? I was also very respectful and not nearly as obnoxious as I wanted to be after we came back in the eighth inning of game 1. The only time that I lost it was during game 2 when the relentless, “Yankees Suck” chants began again. I finally turned around after they were done and said, “Can we at least define what the word ‘sucks’ means? Because in my book, 40 pennants and 27 world series titles doesn’t quite add up to sucking.” A fairly nearby Yankee fan came down, high-fived me and then we proceeded to watch our Yanks. So much for that Texas hospitality they brag about often.

  32. Jane Heller

    Thanks for sharing your experience, peppyp7. (How cool that you went to Arlington from NM by yourself! That’s dedication!) It’s a shame fans can’t treat other fans with respect. I understand the hostility when you go into enemy camp, but there can be lighthearted jabbing and it doesn’t have to be so aggressively awful. Good for you for not sinking to their level. Btw, I’ve asked the same question you did: What, exactly, defines “suck?”

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