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.
(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.
I know it’s only Monday night, but I’m thinking ahead to all the shopping people will be doing and wondering if the Yankees will be among the busy customers. With news that Mo’s camp has finally emerged to state their intentions, maybe he and the Yanks will make a deal. And maybe the Jeter thing will be resolved. And maybe Cliff Lee will have eaten so much turkey that he’ll be in a triptophan fog and will sign with us without realizing it.
Aside from those three, here’s what I’d like to pick up on Black Friday: a treadmill. I’ve been thinking about getting one for a long time and maybe Friday’s the day to score a sale. Someone on Twitter told me that ProForm is the brand to look for, but if anyone else knows about the machines please shout. I don’t have much room, so I need one that folds up.
Tonight I was the guest on a local TV show called “Literary Gumbo.”
It’s a half-hour of chat about writing and publishing, and the host is Fred Klein, who spent many years at Bantam Books as head of marketing. The producer played the intro music and Fred did his welcome thing to the camera, and then the two of us started talking….and talking. He was supposed to be watching this digital timer next to his chair so he’d know when to wrap up, but somebody forgot to set it before the taping started and we kept going. I can’t wait to see the interview because it’s got to have the most abrupt ending in the history of television. Some authors aren’t fond of having to answer questions on camera, but I’m the opposite. When you’ve been sitting home alone in front of the computer all day writing, it feels like recess to go out and talk about your work to someone who’s actually interested. What a concept! Besides, Fred spent the last 10 minutes asking me about “Confessions of a She-Fan.” What could be more fun?
Today I went to a screening of Disney’s new animated film based on the Rapunzel fairy tale. What an adorable movie. Not only has the story of the girl with the long hair been updated and re-imagined, but the quality of the animation is just mind boggling. The characters and their expressions are so life like and there’s plenty of action, plus the whole thing has a lot of heart. I teared up at one point and Michael said, “It’s a cartoon! Snap out of it!”
Afterwards, the two directors came for a Q&A and explained the process of making the film. It was fascinating to hear how they collaborated with 500 animators, as well as took suggestions from some of the employees at Disney. For example, to find the right look for the hero, they asked a bunch of women to bring photos of their favorite hunky actors and they ended up using a composite of features. They also asked women about their relationships with their mothers so they could get the dialogue between Rapunzel and her wicked mother just right. But I really perked up when one of them was describing what it’s like to do a movie at Disney. He said, “Disney is like the Yankees.”
Huh? I sat up straighter in my chair.
“Mostly, the Yankees are really successful,” he went on. “They have their down years, but they always come back strong.”
Even in Hollywood, the pinstripes are a force to be reckoned with. I left the theater smiling.
I’ll be smiling even more when the MVP in the AL is announced on Tuesday and the winner is Cano. Other things that will make me happy?
* A deal with Jeter.
* A deal with Mo.
* A deal with Cliff Lee.
He’s doing the dance again….He told Brian Cashman he wants to spend more time with his kids but he loves being a Yankee. He can’t make a decision yet. He won’t. We’re left to watch and wait and wonder. I’m not a patient person, so I think he needs some help with his plans. Here are the reasons I think he should put the pinstripes back on and give it one more go. Listen up, Andy:
#10) Hanging out with ballplayers is way more fun than making the bed, loading the dishwasher and taking out the garbage.
#9) Mrs. Pettitte won’t let you spit sunflower seeds in the house.
#8) Throwing over to first and picking off runners is still a kick – admit it.
#7) You’ll gain a lot of weight if you retire.
#6) You’ll be an “Old Timer” instead of an “active player” if you retire.
#5) All you’ll have to look forward to is testifying at Clemens’ trial if you retire.
#4) You won’t be invited to Jeter’s wedding if you retire – or his new house in Tampa.
#3) You won’t get that nice big check if you retire.
#2) You won’t be interviewed by Kim Jones, Suzyn Waldman, Jack Curry or anyone else if you retire.
#1) You’ll miss Cliff Lee’s debut as a Yankee if you retire.
What have I forgotten? We have to send Andy a list. And soon.
Leave it to Suzyn Waldman to go down to Arkansas and get an exclusive with Cliff Lee. I thought he was a laid-back, aw-shucks type, but apparently he’s really full of himself. Take a look.
As everyone knows by now, Brian Cashman flew down to Arkansas for a visit with Cliff Lee and his wife Kristen. Presumably, his goal was to express the Yankees’ keen interest in signing Lee as well as answer any questions the couple might have about life in New York – and, of course, to allay Mrs. L’s fears about boorish Yankee fans. But how did the meeting go? Nobody’s coming out with details, so I decided I needed to flesh things out for myself. Here’s how I think it went down today…
* Cashman drove up to Mr. and Mrs. Lee’s big new house, rang the doorbell and was greeted by the entire Lee clan, Southern hospitality being what it is.
* He arrived bearing gifts – some toys for the kids with a slight subliminal message.
* Mrs. Lee sent the children off to play with their presents and invited Cash to sit down for lunch. She had decided to use her favorite caterer.
* Despite the fact that Cash watches his diet and almost never eats fried foods (especially chicken skin), he threw back a few legs and thighs while he described the joys of playing for the New York Yankees. He talked about the franchise’s history and tradition. He ticked off the names of all its legendary stars. He made a speech about how Yankee fans were the best ever, but he was interrupted by Mrs. Lee and the conversation detoured.
Kristen: “They spit at me and threw beer and shouted mean things. It hurt my heart.”
Cash: “I’m so sorry about that. But there are always a few bad apples at every ballpark.”
Cliff: “Mr. Cashman is right, honey. You know what happens when guys get all liquored up.”
Kristen: “They pass out, that’s what. These people didn’t pass out.”
Cash: “I can guarantee you, Kristen, that the same scenario would never happen if your husband came to pitch for us. You’d be treated like royalty.”
Kristen: “I don’t know about that. I talked to Karen Burnett the other day and she said the fans boo her whenever A.J. has a bad game.”
Cash (laughs): “Your husband will never have a bad game, so no worries.”
Cliff: “Nice of you to say, Mr. Cashman.”
Cliff: “Brian. But sometimes it’s just not my day and I stink up the joint. What then?”
Cash: “Cliff, the fans will love you. I’m so certain of it that I’ll put a ‘boo clause’ in your contract. You’ll get an additional $50,000 for every game involving fans booing you or your wife. Fair?”
Cliff: “Extremely.” (Turns to his wife) “What do you say, honey?”
Kristen: “Very fair. But Brian, I have to be sure we’ll be happy with the Yankees. You understand.”
Cash: “I do. And I promise you that if you join the Yankee family you’ll never regret it. Look at me. I’ve been in the organization since I was a kid. The Steinbrenners are the best owners in baseball.”
Kristen: “Nolan Ryan said he was the best owner. He was here yesterday.”
Cash: “Did he make an offer?”
Cliff: “No. We just went hunting. Do you hunt, Brian?”
Cash (panicking): “Um, I play tennis. There isn’t much hunting in Connecticut, although we do have a lot of deer.”
Kristen: “Nolan said we should stay in Texas.”
Cash: “We’ve got better shopping up in New York. Ask Leigh Teixeira.”
Kristen: “I’ve never met her but Amber Sabathia says she’s super sweet.”
Cash: “They’ll take you to Saks and Neiman’s and Bloomie’s. You ladies will have a blast together.”
Kristen (bolting up from the table): “Designer shoes and dresses and everything! I want Cliffy to be a Yankee! Where do we sign?”
And that was that. Mission accomplished. I think.
Who? I mean it’s possible that Lee will sign somewhere else, it really is. So if not him, then who else? That’s what everybody seems to be asking today so I’ll join the discussion – only I warn you: I won’t make any sense. Why should reality get in the way of a good blog post? The truth is, Lee isn’t the best non-Yankees pitcher in baseball; he’s just the best free agent non-Yankees pitcher in baseball. Which means that we have to look at those who aren’t free agents and would, therefore, require a miraculous, impossible-to-pull-off trade. Here are those I covet, regardless of availability or practicality.
1) The Freak
So what if he just won a World Series for the Giants? Maybe he’s tired of the West Coast, not to mention the color orange.
Yeah, he’s got some mileage on him, but I’ve made no secret of my affection for him and maybe he misses the American League East.
3) King Felix
It’s true that his team hasn’t been a contender and he’s looked out of sorts on occasion, but he’s only 24 – plenty of time for him to mature into the game’s best pitcher.
4) The Zackster
He’s already said he won’t come to New York, but that doesn’t mean he means it. And maybe CC and Amber will find him an historic old house in rural New Jersey with a barn and horses and it’ll feel just like Kansas, as in Missouri.
That’s what Girardi would call Justin Verlander if he migrated to the Bronx. Sure, he’s the ace of the Tigers’ staff, but wouldn’t it be less pressure to be a #2 pitcher?
Those are my top five choices in case Cliff Lee doesn’t work out. Did I miss somebody? (This is why I don’t play fantasy baseball. I always miss somebody.)
Is there anyone (besides Rangers fans and probably most of the Dodgers’ fan base) who didn’t find things to like about the 2010 Giants? They played like champions and became champions, just the way it should be. They made me enjoy this World Series, despite the lack of guys wearing pinstripes. Their pitching was spectacular. Their defense was strong. They had the perfect mix of rookies and veterans. (Why didn’t we pick up Aubrey Huff?) And would anyone have predicted that they’d outhit Texas? Just a great, great job in winning it all tonight. A special congrats to my brother-in-law Mark, who has rooted for his Giants for a very long time.
(Sorry about the postage stamp, Mark, but it’s all I could find. You need more pix on your Facebook page.)
What to say about Cliff Lee? For most of the game it looked like he and Lincecum would continue to put zeroes on the board. I kept wondering which team would blink first. But Lee was vulnerable yet again. Maybe his price will plummet?
And, finally, I guess I have to comment on the unfortunate person who happens to be the Rangers’ CEO. His team was fighting for its life in the World Series today and yet he went on his local ESPN radio station and picked on…. Yankee fans? According to Mr. Greenberg, we’re “violent” and “apathetic” as well as “an embarrassment.” Nice. At some point during the day, MLB scolded him and he apologized to Hal Steinbrenner and Randy Levine, dubbing us “passionate” instead. He’s entitled to his opinion, of course. But I’m sick and tired of being dumped on. It was amusing when Joe West called the Yankees and Red Sox “pathetic and embarrassing” because our games last too long for his taste. And it was startling that Kristen Lee called out Yankee fans for their boorish behavior during the ALCS in the Bronx. But enough now. Leave us and our team alone or you’ll have me to deal with. I’m not violent or apathetic, but I can dole out some choice words if pushed.
Orange was everywhere today, given the confluence of the Giants and Halloween. I’ve never been a fan of orange. I don’t wear it. It’s not my color. In fact, I said to Michael before we sat down to watch the game tonight, “If I see another pumpkin, I’ll go mental.” Just as the words were out of my mouth, into my inbox landed an email from Friend of the Blog Audrey, along with this photo.
I quickly changed my mind and said, “Now that’s a pumpkin I could love.” Thanks, Audrey. Great carving job and even better accessorizing.
Speaking of carving up, that’s what young Madison Bumgarner (with a name like that he has to be good) did to the Rangers’ vaunted offense. Vlad Guerrero played the role of Pat Burrell tonight, looking especially awful at the plate. But “Bum” was tough on everybody. And he’s only a kid! It must be so satisfying for the Giants organization to see their prized prospect meet expectations. And now the World Series could be all over tomorrow – if, by some chance, Cliff Lee has two bad outings in a row.
Meanwhile, Bud Selig has been talking about expanding the playoffs by adding two more wild card teams. How does everyone feel about that? Here’s how I feel about it: NO THANKS.
“Oh, come on,” you’re saying. “It would give teams like the Royals and the Pirates a chance to compete for a championship.”
No, it wouldn’t. It would simply prolong the baseball season – something I wouldn’t mind under other circumstances – by diluting the talent pool. And I’m not just griping because the Yankees get into the playoffs so often; I’d feel the same way even if they didn’t. I wasn’t in favor of the wild card concept in the first place, just as I wasn’t crazy about the DH. But I came around to the idea that the best teams in each division would play each other with a “wild card” team rounding out the math. Adding two more teams does what, exactly? Push the games into December? Give more fans in more cities a chance to buy more tickets and more merchandise? Boost the TV ratings?
The whole notion is making me tired. I’m off to sleep. Let me know what you think.
The Rangers were supposed to be the offensive powerhouse and the Giants were the weak hitting team?
Cliff Lee was supposed to be the shut-it-down ace and Matt Cain hasn’t given up a run in the postseason?
Neftali Feliz was supposed to be the Rangers’ most potent weapon out of the pen but Ron Washington went to two guys who couldn’t find the strike zone in a must-win game with his team only down by two runs?
The Rangers supposedly beat the Yankees because they were younger and fitter but senior citizens/playoff veterans Edgar Renteria and Juan Uribe were tonight’s Giants stars?
There are supposed to be drunken, loud, insulting baseball fans at every stadium and yet the crowd in SF was so happy cheering for their team that I didn’t hear a single “Rangers suck” chant?
Yeah, I know. Maybe fans reserve that special display of affection for the Yankees. But still. It was a pleasure to see such a lighthearted group, dressed in their silly costumes and waving their silly rags and having a great time. Lucky them.
Will the Rangers rally at home? Probably. Maybe. I don’t know. Lots can happen over a seven-game series. It just seems as if the Giants have the magic this year.