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 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.
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.
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.
It’s not fun to lose ever, but it’s really not fun to lose when:
* Their guys made three errors and your guys still couldn’t get the job done.
* Your guys were 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
* Your hot-hitting first baseman was on maternity leave.
* Your hot-hitting second baseman should have been in bed with Nyquil.
* Your manager was stuck with a makeshift lineup.
* Your starting pitcher held the other guys to a respectable three runs over seven innings.
* Your cleanup hitter knocked in a game-tying homer for naught.
* Your guys pushed the game into extras, only to go quickly in the 10th.
* Your god of closers decided to be human and give up a walkoff single.
* Your guys were at the other guys’ ballpark and you had to watch their fans celebrating.
* You were forced to listen to the MLB Network’s commenters say, like 16 times, that this game was a preview of the playoffs.
* You looked in your freezer and realized you were out of the best thing you’ve ever tasted.
1) The Captain gets sick…
…and his last minute replacement knocks in two runs with a single.
2) Tex, The April Slumper, goes deep for the first time this season. Talk about getting rid of that monkey on his back.
3) Rangers manager Ron Washington compares Brett Gardner to this guy.
4) Pettitte and Mo pitch like it’s 1996.
5) Nick Johnson doesn’t so much as put his bat on the ball (he either strikes out or walks), but the Yankees still manage to sweep the Rangers.
Will life always be this charmed for Yankee fans? Of course not. The trip to California could be treacherous for our boys. And no, I’m not referring to earthquakes, wildfires or mudslides. I’m not even thinking about Coco Crisp, now with the A’s, even though he could walk right up to Javy Vazquez on Tuesday and pull one of these.
I’m talking about…Actually, I don’t even know who’s on the A’s anymore so I’m not sure which players to be afraid of. I do know that Chad Gaudin and Edwar Ramirez have donned the A’s uniform and will be getting their World Series rings this week.
I wonder if Edwar is eating. I really hope he hasn’t lost any more weight.
When I lived in Florida, there was a guy who came around after hurricanes and hauled off downed tree branches, repaired leaky roofs, fixed whatever needed fixing. The name on his business card? Johnny Do It All. Today, the Yankees filled that job description with their second consecutive win against the Rangers. How?
* Fantastic starting pitching by A.J.
* Killer speed and timely hitting by Gardner.
* Home run power from Jeter and A-Rod (congrats to Alex on #584).
* Offense by Posada (congrats to JoPo on career hit #1500).
* Terrific plate discipline by Swisher and Johnson.
* Excellent relief work by Marte and Joba.
The win was a total team effort and a pleasure to watch, because it really did have a little of everything. Sure, I wish Tex would get hot already, as I wrote yesterday. And it wasn’t a pretty outing for Aceves. But Texas came into town sizzling and now they’ve already lost the series. I don’t really know what a buzz saw is, but I bet the Rangers are feeling like they’ve run into one.
Will the Yankees sweep on Sunday? Better get the broom out just in case.
The Rangers only made one error, according to the official scorer, but they played a sloppy defensive game, rain or no rain. That said, the Yankees 5-1 win belonged to CC. He looked as dominant through six innings as he did when he almost no-hit the Rays. I mean, nine strikeouts and zero walks in an efficient one-hour contest?
No spectacular offensive output to talk about, but what I can’t help mentioning is Tex’s continuing struggle at the plate. I know. He’ll be fine. I’m not worried. I’m just perplexed. How does such a talented guy not hit in the month of April? What’s that about? And does he need help?
Yankees, do Tex a favor. Treat him to a consultation with a bona fide shrink. Maybe his April slump is rooted in something traumatic that happened during his childhood.
OK, it’s a little weird to give yourself a cake, but how can I not celebrate? What’s the occasion? The one year anniversary of this blog! I can’t believe I’ve been at it so long.
Last August, the Yankees were on their way to missing the playoffs for the first time in 13 years. Things weren’t going so well. But my publisher said, “Your Yankees book is coming out in February. Start a blog so you’ll make baseball friends.” It felt like a parent saying, “Go play outside and meet other kids.”
I’d written 13 novels, but I had no idea what a blog was, much less how to write one. So I just starting posting daily musings about Yankees games, about my conversations with my Yankee-fan husband, and about my run-ins with non-Yankee fans at holiday gatherings (like this entry, for instance). I even wrote about the wildfires here in Santa Barbara and what it was like to watch baseball while under an evacuation threat. There was always something new to write about, even in the off-season.
Then my “Confessions of a She-Fan” book came out, and I wrote about my publication parties and various signings, including one at spring training in Tampa. I had discovered a new toy by then – the Flip Video camcorder – and began conducting interviews with other fans via the newly christened “She-Fan Cam.”
There were so many ways to entertain with this blog, I discovered. Sometimes I’d get so caught up in my posts that I’d forget to get dressed.
Thanks to Mark Newman, our MLBlogosphere guru, for all the technical help. Thanks to Vanessa of Flair for the Dramatic for being my first MLBlogger friend. (Good luck at college, V!) Thanks to Jeff and Allen of Red State Blue State, the top dogs at MLBlogs, for throwing a few readers my way. And thanks to the Yankee fans who’ve made this blog a destination; you have great taste in baseball teams. 🙂
As for the Yankees’ 7-2 series loss against the Rangers, was that game frustrating or what? The starter for Texas, Nippert, walked seven batters and yet the Yanks couldn’t find a way to score more than a couple of runs. Come on! And AJ looked like he would be lights out – we were all saying on Twitter that he had no-hitter stuff – but gave up a homer to Kinsler in the fourth. Coke was atrocious. And Robertson served another one up to Kinsler. But it’s on to the White Sox this weekend and a chance to pad our lead in the division. Let’s step it up, Yankees, and take it to the pale hose!
Well, I’ll start with the parts you did see.
“When I arrived in Texas in 2001, I felt an enormous amount of pressure,” A-Rod told Peter Gammons during their sit-down on ESPN. “I felt like I had all the weight of the world on top of me, and I needed to perform – and perform at a high level every day.”
“It was such a loosey-goosey era,” he went on after pursing his lips several times. “I’m guilty for a lot of things – being negligent, naive, not asking all the right questions. And to be quite honest, I don’t know exactly what substance I was guilty of using.”
“I’m just sorry. I’m sorry for that time. I’m sorry to fans.”
O.K., so before I get to what happened once the cameras stopped rolling, let me just state, at the risk of having everyone roll his or her eyes, that I think he handled the situation the best he could. I do. He had to admit what he did. He had to explain why he did it. And he had to say he was sorry. Check. Check. And check. Could he have been more forthcoming about where he got the stuff? Sure. Did we need the rant about Selena Roberts, who quickly denied his accusations? No. But I’m a Yankee fan; I wanted him to try to put this mess behind him so the team can focus on playing baseball (and so baseball can focus on fixing this mess).
Now, without further ado, here’s what happened moments after A-Rod finished his interview: I looked down at myself and realized I was wearing the exact same sweater!
No white collar, but still. We were in matching cerulean blue!
Gene Orza of the players’ union didn’t tip me off that A-Rod would be wearing cerulean today. My trainer didn’t warn me about it, either. And, of course, A-Rod himself was much too busy to text me with any sort of heads-up.
“You are so busted,” said my husband Michael when he walked in and saw me standing in front of the TV, only inches away from the screen. “I thought you were working.”
“It was such a loosey-goosey afternoon,” I protested. “I’m guilty for a lot of things – not doing the laundry, not calling my mother, not getting the car washed. And to be quite honest, I don’t know exactly where I got this sweater. It was just hanging in the closet and I grabbed it. I felt an enormous pressure to look good – like I had the weight of the world on top of me.”
“You’re supposed to be sitting at the computer, not watching A-Rod’s interview,” said Michael.
“I’m sorry. Forgive me. Blame it on the culture in Texas.”
Programming note: The Yankees blog “3:10 to Joba,” is running a contest to coincide with the opening of spring training. Read about it here. You might even win something that’s not cerulean.