I don't want to get anyone excited or anything, but
HOLY GOD I THINK CLIFF LEE MIGHT BE COMING TO THE YANKEES!
And while that's all well and good, it's important to pause and remember that
OH MY SWEET JESUS CLIFF LEE MIGHT BE COMING TO THE YANKEES!
Seriously, though, a lot of things have to fall in place and there's a couple odds and ends to be sorted through and
I JUST TIED THE HORN OF A UNICORN TO MY FOREHEAD AND DANCED THROUGH MIDTOWN NEW YORK AND MADE LOVE TO A TAXI DRIVER BECAUSE FUCKING CLIFF LEE IS COMING TO THE YANKEES!
NO! NO BUTS! CLIFF LEE IS COMING! WE'RE GOING TO WIN 15 WORLD SERIES TITLES IN A ROW! BOSTON WILL CEASE TO EXIST AS A CITY! JOSH BECKETT WILL MARRY A JESUIT! KEVIN YOUKILIS WILL SERVE POTATOES FROM AN IRON POT IN A HOMELESS VILLAGE BENEATH A BRIDGE! CLIFF LEE IS HERE, AND HE'S FROM ARKANSAS! HE'S GOING TO HOG TIE YOU IF YOU DON'T WEAR A YANKEE HAT! HE'S GOING TO TAKE OVER CHURCHES AND PERFORM MIRACLES ON SICK INFANTS! HE WILL SHAKE THE VERY GROUND! HE WILL KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS! OH MY GOD I'M SO HAPPPPPPYYYYYY I'M CRYING! BALOOOO BALOOOO BALOOOOO! THAT'S ME CRYING! BALLOOOOOO!
Okay, let's cool down for real. Here's the story: Jon Heyman is reporting that the Yanks and Mariners are in serious talks to make a trade, and on talk radio this morning I heard that it could happen even before the All-Star break. Which is in like 3 days. The NYPost is saying the Yanks are the "clear frontrunner" for Lee, and now they're even saying we're 'on the brink' of acquiring him. For their part, the Ms want Jesus Montero, a stud catcher in the Yankee minors, and two other prospects.
Good. Deal Montero away. Gotta do it. Here's the thing: Lee is a free agent at the end of this season, so if we're talking about swapping a major talent, it's obvious that Cashman wants to sign him to a long-term deal. We don't necessarily need him for this season- we have three very good starters and two adequate ones- and we proved last year that we can beat a team with Lee on its staff in the postseason. This is a long-term plan.
Seth Curry Saves Duke! hasn't always had the best relationship with Lee. I've called him 'selfish' for not pitching three games in the World Series last year, and I've called him an 'asshole' on more than one occasion for certain eccentric behaviors. If you didn't know me personally, you might even think that, in the distant past, I didn't like Cliff Lee as a person.
HAHA! What a classic misunderstanding! What, not like Cliff Lee?! No, no! Oh, that's funny! What a hilarious mix-up! No, I love Lee. Really! You should see me rave about him on message boards and stuff. Oh, yeah. Big time gushing. I'd even call myself the dude's main proponent. I'd buy a button with his picture on it in a heartbeat. If I had a cat, I'd either name it Theodore Roosevelt or Cliff Lee.* I think 'cliffly' should be an adverb that has something to do with great pitching. Believe me, I'm the top Cliff Lee supporter. I've been thinking about joining fan clubs and stuff. Do they have those? Do they have Cliff Lee fan clubs? If not, it's a damn crying shame and someone should do something about it.
*I'd name it Theodore Roosevelt.
For real, though, this is awesome. The guy may be a little selfish and a little crazy, and he might try to start fights in spring training for no good reason, but I'm willing to look the other way. It's Cliff Lee. He's an insane, angry force of nature. With him on board, the Yankee machine will be very, very hard to stop.
Quick request to Seattle: can we get this trade done sometime today so that he doesn't have to pitch against us tonight? In fact, we'd like to have him pitch against you instead. Admit it, that would be a classic salt-in-the-wounds moment. We'd all have a big laugh, and then you could go fuck off into obscurity. How's that sound?
But wait just one minute: isn't this a textbook example of a team sacrificing their character for a big gun, and then it backfires because the universe doesn't abide that kind of greed? Doesn't the karmic wheel always swing back and undercut those who would fritter away ideals for the possibility of eternal dominance? Are we not over-reaching? Won't these boastful words come back to bite me as the Yankees fall into a dark pit of their own making? Isn't this the chief principle and foundation of much literature and philosophy? Instead of bolstering the best team in baseball, the defending World Series champs who arguably want for nothing, will Cliff Lee cost us...everything?
WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM, YOU NINNY?! DID I NOT TELL YOU I'M WEARING THE HORN OF A UNICORN?! THERE IS GREAT JOY IN THE STREETS! THE PEOPLE ARE EXULTANT! THE GREAT GIVING SUN SMILES ON US ALL! FIE ON THOSE WHO WOULD SPEAK ILL OF THE NEW PRODIGY!
We'll see. We'll see about this. I'm cautiously psyched. But boy, how about them apples for Cleveland? Lee and Sabathia are now both with the Yankees. That can't be an easy pill to swallow. And the timing is a bit poor too, considering another recent departure...
Okay, I'll talk about Lebron. I'm about to write a mini apologia for him, so let me first put forth a disclaimer:
Lebron Disclaimer: I don't like the way he made the announcement. I don't like that he's in bed with ESPN, I don't like how he dragged it out, and I don't like that he and his peoples seem to crave attention. The theatrics weren't fair to Cleveland. He's probably narcissistic, and certainly egomaniacal. There are no excuses for the method.
However: There's a lot to be said for getting the hell out of Cleveland, and Dan Gilbert's diatribe was at least a little unfair. Here are some reasons for agreeing with Lebron's move:
1) Cleveland stinks. No superstar wins by himself, and Lebron had no supporting cast. Who were his best second options? Mo Williams? A washed-up Shaq? An incompetent coach? The organization had 7 years to do something productive with Lebron's talent, and instead they screwed the pooch. Winning in Cleveland just wasn't going to happen. Lebron was good enough to guarantee the playoffs, and maybe a few extended runs, but no superstar in history has ever won a championship by himself.
2) Lebron is 25. Watching him speak last night, his youth was clear. This is sometimes very easy to forget, primarily because he's been made into a huge icon, and we automatically assign our icons responsibility. Also, he looks old. Watching the special last night, I had the sudden thought: this guy is younger than me by 2 years. It seems totally unbelievable. But he is 25, and though he's been trained to fit a squeaky clean media image, you can still hear the street in his speech in unguarded moments, and the truth is that he's probably been given an oversized platform. Too much fame too early can make a likeable dude turn into someone who needs the spotlight, and agrees to 1-hour specials on ESPN. He's a good basketball player, but how much more can you really expect? A big part of me thinks, 'come on, give the kid a break.'
3) He's not cut in the Jordan and Kobe mold. Those guys are once-in-a-generation personalities. It goes beyond talent, which Lebron has in spades. It has to do with competitiveness, and those two can't be matched. Look at Jordan's hall-of-fame speech. It was bitter, angry, and triumphant. It was the epitome of a human being who can't turn it down. There's no 'off' switch on his manic drive to win. It's kind of an ugly trait, actually, but it's highly conducive to success in a stressful and public field like NBA basketball. Lebron is not like that. Some people lately have called him a pussy, and compared to Jordan, he is.
4) He wants to play with his friends. He wants to have second and third options in the clutch. Most of all, he doesn't want the pressure of having to save a city. (And by the way, Cleveland's problems run deep, and aren't going to be even partly healed by an NBA championship. Sorry, but that idea is patently absurd, and it blurs the line between sports and real life.) And here's the truth: he doesn't owe anybody anything. He's an individual, not some kind of beacon of light guiding Cleveland through the darkness. He's a sovereign human, and anybody who wants to crucify him for making a sovereign decision really has their priorities messed up.
What do you think Jordan would have done if he got stuck in Cleveland with incompetent ownership and no supporting cast? Not only would he have left in a heartbeat; he would have told anybody who didn't like it to fuck themselves. He would have left town on a burning bridge with his middle finger raised high, and he would have delighted in torching the Cavs every time they met thereafter. You'd be able to see the demonic gleam in his eyes when he took the court against his old team. He'd destroy them with glee. And the really funny part? He would have been lauded for it. He'd be a 'warrior,' and a 'winner,' and a ruthless hero. He'd be secretly loved in Cleveland the way downtrodden people adore their conqueror.
The worst thing you can do for a place like Cleveland is be nice. After 7 years, the city thought they deserved Lebron. Now their owner is griping, and fans are burning his jersey, and it's a big blown-out show of hatred. All because he gave them the better part of a decade, led the team where they'd never been before, and filled the stadium night after night. Talk about ingrates...his presence and ability was a privilege, not a right. The city has no purchase on Lebron. People are all different, and this particular dude chose to fly.
Life happened. Grow up. I particularly love that Dan Gilbert promised in his psychotic letter that Cleveland would win a title before Miami. Oh, really? With who? Are you going to sacrifice a sheep and pray that two more Lebrons fall into your lap? Is this a five-year plan? Does it involve sucking horribly for four years and trying to win the draft lottery? Give me a break, brother. I'm not too young to spot nonsense, and either is Lebron, and either are your constituents in Ohio.
I mean, New York is supposed to be the most entitled city in the world, right? All our people are arrogant, and we're rude and superior? We always assume things will go our way, and we don't appreciate a winner? Well we didn't get Lebron, and I haven't heard anyone bitching about it! And this is the greatest city in the world, not some industrial wasteland with a burning river! Why should he stay with you, Cleveland? What are you offering besides bad ownerhsip and urban blight? Riddle me that, ASSHOLES.
AND NOW WE'RE GETTING CLIFF LEE! YOU DIDN'T DESERVE HIM EITHER! HE'S GOING TO THROW A PERFECT GAME AGAINST YOU AND THEN TAKE A DUMP IN LAKE ERIE AND MURDER ALL THE MIDGES THAT ATTACKED JOBA! LIFE IS SO GOOD FOR THE NEW YORK YANKEES! DON'T YOU HATE US??! AREN'T WE AWESOME?! OH MY GOD I'M SO HAPPYYYYYY BALLOOO BALOOOOOO BALOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!