Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Lee proves it's not always about the money

In the end, Cliff Lee proved he is not the mercenary all the baseball experts made him about to be, turning down all the extra dollars the New York Yankees threw at him to rejoin the Philadelphia Phillies.

Lee chose not to chase the last dollar. Like Roy "Doc" Halladay before him, he signed with a competitive Phillies team that offers him the best chance at a World Series title for less money than he could have made somewhere else. The Phils had a pretty good rotation before, but they must now be ranked in the top three starting staffs in baseball (after watching the 2010 playoffs, I would still put the San Francisco Giants’ young studs over the more-experienced Phillies' quartet).

As bummed as I am about not getting Lee, I find it refreshing that he proved that not all athletes care only about money. Tom Verducci argued that Lee didn’t make a huge sacrifice because Philadelphia’s offer was only about 13% less than what the Texas Rangers would have paid him. But not too many athletes would walk away from an extra $18 million (especially if they have Scott Boras for an agent, which Lee did not, to the Phillies’ great fortune). Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like we’ll be starting a collection for Lee. But I think an athlete who turns down more money in this day and age merits some praise.

Perhaps it’s easier for me to admire Lee because I was never convinced he would end up in pinstripes. I'm not even a little surprised by Lee’s decision because I didn't buy into the conventional wisdom about him: that he wouldn't leave even one dollar on the table. I felt all along that, in addition to the money, he would go to the place he felt most comfortable and had the best chance to win. I am a little bit surprised he went back to Philly because of all the reports about why he was traded away and the bad feelings he supposedly had about the Phillies. But again, that goes to show that these baseball experts often don't know what they are talking about.

Good for Lee for making the decision that he felt was best for him and his family. But the Yankees now have a really dilemma on their hands.

Thanks to artolog and Fui in terra aliena via Wikipedia for the photo.

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