I’m relieved to say I survived last night’s New Year’s Eve karaoke party. Actually, I not only survived but ended up having a really great time. Our hosts were gracious, everyone was in the holiday spirit and, once the machine started shooting out song after song, we all got into it. (Alcohol helped.) I’m hoarse today, so I must have been belting them out without realizing it. Anyhow, as promised, here are a couple of guests covering the Beatles. (Notice the guy in the background with the beard and glasses? That’s Michael, who claimed he didn’t sing, but as it’s plain to see he was moving his lips!)
Next up were our hosts (I promised I wouldn’t reveal their names so they wouldn’t be mortified). I hardly remembered the song “King of the Road” by Roger Miller but now I can’t get the damn thing out of my head.
The party was moving right along toward midnight when suddenly the karaoke machine started playing Neil Diamond’s….you guessed it….”Sweet Caroline.” I immediately held my ears and yelled, “God, no! Not that awful Red Sox song! I’m a Yankee fan!”
“You are?” asked Steve, one of the other guests.
“Absolutely,” I said, a little wary of admitting my allegiance in a town where most people root for the Dodgers or Angels.
“So am I,” said Steve, who explained that he grew up in Connecticut and has been a Yankee fan his whole life. “I’m really worried about the team going forward. The Red Sox made so many moves and we didn’t. I still can’t believe we didn’t get Cliff Lee.”
Well, that led to a discussion of the Bombers and our concern about the pitching, etc. Before we knew it, the TV came on and Ryan Seacrest was in Times Square counting down to midnight – and Frank Sinatra was in the background singing “New York, New York.”
“Now that song makes me feel a lot better,” I said. “We could be at Yankee Stadium right now.”
Which was not a bad way to end the evening.
I couldn’t resist posting this clip of Suzyn Waldman’s visit to the Arkansas home of Cliff Lee and his family. She really tries to get Lee’s young daughter Maci to explain why he decided to pitch for the Phillies as opposed to the Yankees, but the conversation doesn’t go well.
I hope Cliffy enjoys himself with his
new old team. But what I hope most of all is that I never have to write about him again.
At least we know the identity of the Mystery Team that’s been in the Cliff Lee hunt. Or at least we think we do. “Sources” say he’s leaning toward that team, and by the time I wake up tomorrow morning maybe he’ll be wearing their uniform – again.
How would I feel if the Phillies end up with Lee after all this? Conflicted. On one hand, the Yankees really need a guy of Lee’s caliber in the rotation. On the other, seven years is absurd and I’d be relieved if we weren’t stuck with a contract of that length. On one hand, I love Lee as a pitcher and think he would thrive under the bright lights of New York. On the other, he and his wife are supposed to love Texas, particularly because it’s closest to their home in Arkansas.
Wait. Am I nuts or is Philadelphia not near Arkansas?
I don’t see PA on that map. Well, maybe Cliffy isn’t leaning toward Philly. And maybe I’ll stop thinking about the whole subject, go watch a movie and wait to see what will happen (or not happen) tomorrow.
What movie am I going to watch? “All Good Things” with Ryan Gosling and Kirsten Dunst. Here’s the trailer.
It’s based on the true story of Robert Durst, who may or may not have murdered his wife in New York but definitely murdered his neighbor in Texas.
Nothing. Still nothing. Maybe Cliffy and Kristen spent Sunday in church praying for guidance. “Should we go to New York?” they asked the Lord. “Or stay in Texas? Or choose the Mysterious Team Nobody Will Name?” If I were the Lord, I would whisper, “The Yankees. Always the Yankees.” But I’m just a she-fan, so I’ll wait another day like everybody else. I predict Lee will announce his decision tomorrow and I’ll be asleep here on the west coast. Somebody call me if there’s good news, OK?
No Countdown video of Cliffy tonight. Instead, I’m posting the trailer for today’s screening, which was “The Fighter,” the new Mark Walburg movie set in Lowell, MA that tells the mostly true story of welterweight Micky Ward. I love boxing movies for some reason, and this one didn’t disappoint. Amazing performance by a jittery, funny, hollowed out Christian Bale as Micky’s crack-addict half-brother Dicky. I know I keep saying stuff like this, but Bale will win the best supporting actor Oscar or I’ll eat one of my Yankees T-shirts. Take a look.
I thought our screening group was getting Bale, along with director David O. Russell, for the Q&A after the film, but Amy Adams, who is fantastic as Micky’s girlfriend, came instead (by helicopter from LA, as it turned out.)
She was adorable and interesting and answered all our questions with patience and humor. And yes, of course I raised my hand and asked a question. (It was about Sugar Ray Leonard and you have to see the movie to understand how he figures into the story). Today’s screening was the last one until March, because the Santa Barbara Film Festival will take over the town for two weeks in January/February. Very excited about that, as it’s a great event every year. Meanwhile, I hope tomorrow brings us closure in the “Cliff Lee Matter,” as I’ve taken to calling it. I would just really hate it if the announcement becomes a media circus in the tradition of LeBron’s “The Decision.” Let him simply have his agent alert reporters, schedule the press conference with whichever team he picks and be done with this.
Today was movie day and I hoped I’d emerge from the theater, power my iPhone back up and find out there was Cliff Lee news. No such luck. But the movie I saw was worth talking about. It was “Biutiful,” the new film from the director of “Babel” and “21 Grams.” Starring Javier Bardem and set on the seamy side of Barcelona, it’s the story of a man who learns he’s dying and tries to put his life in order – especially when it comes to his two young children. No, it’s not an upbeat film by any means, but Bardem is sensational – the best performance he’s given yet, which is saying something if you saw him in “The Sea Inside” – and it touches on many complex issues, from immigration to parenting. Here’s the trailer.
After the movie, there was a Q&A with Bardem. Of course I raised my hand.
“Was it physically challenging to play a man who was dying?” I asked.
“I didn’t play a man who was dying,” he said. “I played a man who was in denial about dying.”
O-kay. Later, I spoke to him one-on-one at a private reception, and he was so charming, not to mention gorgeous. He talked about his wife, Penelope Cruz, and the baby they’re about to have. Very personable guy.
Speaking of romance, Nick Swisher is marrying his girlfriend, Joanna Garcia, at the Breakers in Palm Beach this weekend. (Maybe they’ve already done the deed as I’m writing this.)
No word yet on the names of Yankees attending, but the point is that Cliff Lee could have been one of them if he had decided to become a Yankee already!
Doesn’t he realize what great teammates he’d have? He already knows and likes CC and AJ. And who wouldn’t want to be on the same team as Jeter and Mo? And Swisher? Now come on. Tonight’s Countdown video is of Swish at an award dinner in his honor and I posted it because of the last part, where he talks about Joanna. So sweet. Cliffy, you’d be missing out by not joining these guys. I hope you get that.
Yes, I know. We’re all getting tired of this Countdown. But it seems that Cliffy is “weighing all the complex offers” that have come his way, poor guy. Despite the stories about Amber Sabathia telling Kristen Lee she has their house all picked out down the street, Cliffy is, as of this moment, still undecided about where to play for the next zillion years. So I’m taking a different tack with tonight’s Countdown video, which doesn’t feature Lee or his agent but rather a Yankee fan – a Yankee she-fan, to be more specific. I hope he and his wife watch the video and realize that money is nice and Texas’s no-state-income-tax law is sweet, but little girls who know the names of every Yankee? Priceless.
Today was depressing. Not only did I have to read about how the Red Sox were sure-fire bets to win the World Series now that they’ve signed Crawford and Gonzalez (didn’t the media say the same thing about them last year after they signed Lackey and Beltre?), but I continued to check for updates about Cliffy and could only find out that the Yankees had upped their offer to 7 years (7, apparently, is the new 6 in baseball these days) and that the Texas delegation was in Arkansas to make their case to the Lees. Blah blah blah. As I said yesterday, I’m not a patient person and this whole Lee thing, on top of the whole Jeter thing, is dragging me down. So what did I do about it? I went to a screening tonight of the most depressing movie on the planet. “Rabbit Hole” was a Pulitzer Prize-winning play and now it’s a critically acclaimed film that’s about to open in limited release to qualify for the Oscars. Nicole Kidman, who plays the mother of a child that died and tries to come to grips with the tragedy, is on everybody’s Best Actress list, along with Natalie Portman and Annette Bening. She’s very good. And it’s hard not to be moved by the film (Kleenex essential). But fair warning: it’s just not an easy story to sit through. Here’s the trailer.
I was hoping that when I emerged from the theater and turned my phone back on there would be news – as in “Lee signs with the Yankees!” No such luck. I’m thinking Friday is the day. Or maybe Saturday. Definitely by Sunday. If it goes longer than that, I’m over it and will start doing Countdowns for anybody and everybody. Meanwhile, here’s tonight’s Cliff Lee video.
It was an easy pick, since Danny Knobler says straight out that Cliffy will be a Yankee because he won’t be able to leave “all that money on the table.” So far, nobody’s been able to leave money on the table, judging by the choices made by Werth and Crawford.
Oh. One more thing. Recently, I noticed that this blog has passed the 20,000-comment milestone. That’s a whole lot of people checking in here. A heartfelt thanks to all who’ve taken the time to leave a word or two.
Michael and I were on our way to dinner with friends when I said in the car, “The winter meetings have been a big tease this year.”
“Yeah,” he agreed. “Aside from the Werth deal before they started the meetings, things have been pretty quiet.”
“Apparently, Cashman can’t even get Cliff Lee’s agent to respond to an offer,” I said. “And now the agent has left Orlando and gone to Arkansas to talk to Lee. Which means more waiting and wondering.”
“This agent seems to have everybody waiting and wondering,” said Michael. “Who is he anyway?”
“His name is Darek Braunecker,” I said. “Sounds like a German coffee machine.”
We got to the restaurant, a cute Italian place here in Santa Barbara called Trattoria Victoria, and sat down with our friends. During dinner we all talked about the updates in the murder investigation of Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen, about the recent ruling in the McCourts’ divorce case and what it might mean for the Dodgers, about the bones I found in my otherwise delicious piece of sea bass. And then we went home. I went straight to the computer to see if there was Cliff Lee news. Nope. Only the fact that Carl Crawford will be a Red Sock for the next 7 years. My condolences to the Angels, whose offer wasn’t enough to hold off those busy shoppers in Boston. But what about Lee? Is he planning to make a decision about his future soon or not? I’m tired of this guy Braunecker acting like his client is an undercover agent with the CIA. I’m tired of all the secrecy. I’m tired of waiting. Just tell us straight up: Does Lee want to pitch for the Yankees or doesn’t he? Even Andy Pettitte is waiting for an answer.
Tonight’s Operation Cliff Lee Countdown video is actually audio. Even if you listen closely, you still can’t figure out what Braunecker is really saying. He’s a master of double talk, which explains all this waiting and wondering. I’m glad he’s not my agent, that’s for sure.
Before we get to Cliffy, raise your hand if you watched the Jeter press conference today?
Here’s what jumped out at me about the presser, which I watched on the MLB Network at 11:30 California time.
#1. Jeter was the only one who came dressed for the occasion. Loved the suit, the shirt, the tie. Good job by Jeet on his wardrobe choices, but why did all the other guys have to look like schlubs?
#2. Jeter was emotional (for him) when he got up to speak – and not in a good way. You could tell how angry he was at the Yankees for making the negotiations public. He said as much, but there was also a chilliness to his words. I’m sure it’ll all be fine, but I’m glad he was honest about his feelings.
#3. Nobody on the dais but Girardi and Jeter spoke. Couldn’t Hal have said a few words on behalf of ownership? Seriously?
#4. Cashman kept glancing at his phone while Jeter was talking. I found it annoying. Granted, he’s in the middle of the winter meetings and Cliff Lee’s future is hanging in the balance, but still. Show a little respect, dude.
Speaking of Lee, supposedly there are a couple of teams actually willing to give him a 7 year deal (maybe or maybe not including those free-spending Nationals). Will the Yankees make him an offer already or must we gnaw on our fingernails for the foreseeable future?
Hopefully, my Operation Cliff Lee Countdown will speed things along. For tonight’s video, I picked a recap of Game 3 of the ALCS against the Rangers – a game we lost, obviously – during which Doug Mientkiewicz (if you’ve read my She-Fan book you know why I have a special affection for the former Yankees first baseman) waxes poetic about Lee. Take a look.
Here are some of Mientkiewicz’s quotes about Cliffy that especially caught my attention:
“He’s about to make a lot of money.”
“He’s dominated the best lineups in baseball and he’s making it look easy.”
“I don’t see how anybody can beat him.”
“He’s not afraid of contact.”
We need you, Cliffy. We do. Please don’t sign anywhere else. I’m asking you nicely.
Not a huge news day unless you count the conflicting reports about whether Andy Pettitte will retire. One minute, a source says he’s not coming back. The next, another source says he will. My take? I’ll believe nothing until I hear Andy state his intentions in his own words, and only then will I cheer or cry.
Now, onto tonight’s Cliff Lee Countdown Video. In this one, he’s in the Bronx, about to start the ’08 All-Star game at Yankee Stadium. There are two parts that struck me. Early in the video the YES Network’s Joe Auriemma asks Lee about pitching at Yankee Stadium on such a big occasion. What does Lee say in response?
“Everybody knows the heritage that comes along with the New York Yankees. I’m completely honored and privileged to be here.”
OK, he didn’t say anything remotely like that in last night’s video with the Mariners, right? Clearly, he gets that the Yankees are the team where icons hang out. I mean, did he ever say he was honored and privileged to be in Arlington, Texas?
The other part that interested me comes at the end of the video. Joe asks if his family is there to watch him pitch.
“Yeah, my wife and kids, my parents, my financial advisor…”
Hmm. His wife was at Yankee Stadium? And she didn’t get harassed by boorish, spitting, beer-swilling Yankee fans? I think Cliffy needs to remind her of that. Or Cashman does.