Day 1 of “Operation Cliff Lee Countdown” (With Update)

What a busy baseball day for a lazy Sunday in December, right? There I was, sitting in a screening for a movie called “Barney’s Version,” completely unaware that Jayson Werth had signed a monster contract with the Nationals and that Adrian Gonzalez had backed out of his deal with the Red Sox.
Before I move off “Barney’s Version,” I have to recommend it to everyone. It’s based on the highly acclaimed novel by Canadian writer Mordecai Richler and it’s just great. Paul Giamatti plays the hard-drinking, cigar-smoking, politically incorrect son of a cop (Dustin Hoffman) who falls in love with a woman – at his own wedding. The movie tells the story of his life and is both funny and touching. It opens in January. Here’s the trailer.
Back to baseball. I don’t even know what to say about the Werth deal except that Carl Crawford must be dancing in the streets. And if the Red Sox aren’t able to put the Gonzo deal back together, it’ll be like their near-miss with Tex. But mostly, it’s time to focus on Lee. With the GMs gathered in Orlando, will Cashman finally make his agent an offer that’ll blow the Rangers and all other suitors out of the water? Taking no chances, I thought we needed to start the Operation Cliff Lee Countdown right away, posting a video either of him or about him each night until he’s wearing pinstripes.
CLIFF LEE.pinstripes.jpg
(Hat tip to the Village Voice for the odd Photo Shopping)
So without further ado, let’s go to the videotape. It worked for Jeter.
Yes, this video is long. Sorry about that. But here’s why I picked it: It gives us a taste of what Lee’s press conference at Yankee Stadium will be like when Cashman, Girardi and Hal introduce him to the New York media. Well, with one big difference – there’ll be a lot more reporters and photographers in the Bronx. (From the look of this Mariners presser, there were maybe 10 media people there.) I had to laugh when he was asked what kind of a contract he’s expecting and he said, “10 years for $200 billion.” Yes, he did say billion. But he’s such a kidder, that Cliffy. Did everybody catch the cool attitude when the reporter (don’t they use recording devices in Seattle or just pads and pencils?) asked him to talk about hitting Sammy Sosa in the head in Texas. Lee shrugged and said, “What can I say? I hit Sammy Sosa in the head.” And then there’s the interview the same reporter did with Cliffy’s wife – about their dog. I think he’ll be much happier with the Yankees. Don’t you?
Update: Looks like I spoke too soon on the Red Sox-Gonzo deal. Apparently, all is well now and there is joy in Beantown.



    The dog interview part was very weird indeed. The beginning of this press conference was interesting because it sounded like Lee was trying to convince everyone he was glad to be in Seattle.

    I haven’t followed Lee’s career until this season. I’m a little confused about why he has played for so many teams. Does anyone have any insight?


  2. Jane Heller

    Right out of left/right field is right, Jenn. I was not expecting Werth to go to the Nationals at all! I’m happy about Jeter too, obviously, and while the negotiations gave us some jittery moments, the question of whether he’d stay a Yankee was never really in doubt.

  3. Jane Heller

    Wasn’t that dog interview weird or what, Melissa? Do the reporters in Seattle really think their readers would be interested? Sheesh. I agree about Lee rationalizing being there – “It’s not that I didn’t want to come to Seattle. It was just the shock” – but there wasn’t much fanfare and it seemed like quite a dull affair, unlike the zoo it would be in the Bronx. I don’t know why he’s moved around so much, except that teams are afraid of getting stuck with free agents and he was always about to be one?

  4. geoffh

    Tell Minnie Driver to brace herself and leave that wedding dress on cause I’m coming round to get her. How can anyone not love her????

    I like your “Operation (insert future Yankee name)” series of reports Jane. It feels like you’re working undercover, behind the scenes, getting t’s crossed and i’s dotted for a positive outcome.

    Do me a favour. Make your next job “Operation Minnie Driver” and have me as the gracious recipient.


  5. Jane Heller

    Ah, so you’d like me to do an Operation Minnie Driver Countdown for you, Geoffh? LOL. She’s very good in the movie and looks fantastic. I always think she should be in more films.

    Yes, I always love drama when it involves the Red Sox, Jeff. Just goes with the territory. But good for them for getting their man. Haven’t they been after him for years now?

    I guess they did jump the gun, Paul. All of them.

  6. abby1306

    Wow, that was seriously their press conference? Those reporters were weird. What’s up with this Tiger Woods question? Does he know him…? Otherwise…what!?
    That will definitely be different in the Bronx. He will be treated way better than that. Not sure about the 10 year/200 Billion deal, though. LOL. That actually was funny. But I can’t help it, I don’t like his wife. For me she seems to be very arrogant. I don’t know. But in the end it’s not her I want to see in pinstripes. So come on Cliffy, how can you not want to pitch for the Yankees? Best team ever and it’s New York man, it doesn’t get any better than this. 😉
    This countdown will work it’s magic, I’m sure. 🙂

    The Jayson Werth deal also surprised me. So out of the blue. And with the Nationals….mmmhh, I don’t know. 😉

    Oh, this time I have to admit, I’m not into that movie. I don’t like Minnie Driver at all. It’s not a story that interests me. But you can’t like every movie, can you? 😉 But glad you liked it. There’s nothing worse than watching a movie that’s boring. Happenend to me when I visited friends in L.A. Another friend worked at Paramount and she sneeked us in to see the screening of “Atonement”. That was looong and boring. But a nice experience at Paramount though. Lol.
    – Nadine

  7. Jane Heller

    That’s what I thought when I watched the video, Nadine. How can Cliffy NOT want to pitch in New York? It’s the big time. He’s a big-time pitcher. He’s meant to be a Yankee and that’s all there is to it! I felt the same way you did about Atonement, btw. BORING. I remember sitting in the theater thinking WHY?

    He looked good in the Yankee uniform, didn’t he, Barbara? Well, it wasn’t exactly a normal picture and made me squint a lot, but still. I’m already envisioning his press conference at the Stadium, so Cashman and company better not disappoint me. Glad you enjoyed the Gumbo interview. You were sweet to take the time to watch it.


    ok that was fun to see cliff lee sort of in a yankee uniform. I didn’t watch the video because between every meeting I have had this morning I watched you on literary gumbo–somehow I couldn’t get it to work at home so i thought i’d try at work. It was fun to listen to the whole interview. thanks for providing the link! I hope the book really becomes a movie. I hope cliff lee really becomes a yankee. I hope we will see his press conference at yankee stadium very much.

  9. raysrenegade

    Pretty soon the Yankees will have to hire you just for the “guilt” factor of posting the extensive watches over the contracts and negoiations concerning the pinstripes top tier “wish list”.
    We all knew both Mo and Jeter would come out of the cold into the warm arms of the pinstripes again, but Cliff Lee is now under your gaze and fire.
    I guess we will see soon if the NYY gult factor can also get him to consider or hide from the glaring eyes of Yankees worldwide, even in Arkansas.

    Rays Renegade

  10. Jane Heller

    I’m definitely watching and waiting, Renegade. I don’t worry that Lee is wary of the bright lights of New York. I think it’ll be more about the comfort level of his family and the proximity between Arkansas and Texas. Cashman is said to be meeting with his agent today, so we’ll see if there’s any news.

  11. blithescribe

    Yeah, the Werth deal and some of the other news this weekend was very surprising. Just as long as it’s not a jig Carl Crawford’s dancing in the streets, or the Texas two step for that matter, I guess this only adds to the excitement of the offseason.
    Okay, that video was something else. Seattle reporters ask some strange questions, though in hind sight perhaps it’s best he stuck to dog questions with Kristen Lee. It was highly unlikely that a dog question wouldn’t do good things in her heart. Cliff Lee does seem to have a great sense of humor though.

  12. Jane Heller

    LOL about Crawford, blithescribe. I bet you don’t want any jigs or Texas two steps. Cliff Lee does seem to have a good sense of humor, even as his wife seems a bit humorless. He’ll need one if (I should say “when” – staying positive) he comes to NY.

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