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.
Last time, it was Amber Sabathia who was credited with nudging her husband toward the Yankees. This time, it was Leigh Teixeira.
According to Tex at the press conference: “She said, ‘I want you to be a Yankee,’ and it was a done deal.”
Wives make all the decisions in a marriage, let’s face it. Which leads me to wonder: Why isn’t Laura Pettitte telling her husband to be a Yankee? Is she too busy trying to get her singing career off the ground?
(You’re no Rhianna, honey. Tell Andy to come home to the Bronx or we’re moving on without both of you.)
Back to the press conference. Wasn’t I pretty much on the money with my “pre-cap,” as Kathy of Redbird Chatter dubbed my last post?
Just as I called it, there was Yankees media relations director Jason Zillo welcoming everybody. I couldn’t help notice his thicker hair. Did he get plugs in the off-season or has he been consulting Guiseppi Franco?
I was wrong about Hal not saying a word. He said six or seven words.
I was wrong about Randy Levine too; I didn’t expect him to be there, let alone look like he’d come straight from a tanning bed.
I was right about Cashman’s demeanor, the presentation of roses to Leigh Teixeira, Girardi slipping the pinstriped jersey on Tex. I was right that Tex would make worshipful remarks about the Yankees, Don Mattingly, the fans, etc. And I was right about the softball questions the media would lob at him. I was wrong about George King. Where the heck was he?
Tex seemed genuinely excited to be a Yankee. He did. Yes, he’s getting paid a fortune but he would have been paid a fortune no matter where he went.
There’s just one thing: He’s kind of dorky. Take a look.
I bet he has Barry Manilow on his iPod. I bet he watches the Discovery Channel. I bet he collects stamps. I bet he puts a slice of Velveta on everything. I bet he wears pajamas.
Still, dorky or not, I like him so far. And I’ll like him even more when he goes 4-for-4 on Opening Day.