Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Can't Buy Me Love

Photo by: AP Photos

As a sports fan, it's really easy to get disillusioned by the high value contracts that are bandied around every off season. We saw a lot of that in hockey this past summer with Ilya Kovalchuk's 15 year, $100 Million dollar deal. It's something that is especially rampant in baseball since MLB hasn't organized a salary cap yet. And I don't see that happening any time soon. What you do frequently see is well known , talented players who say they will never leave a team they supposedly love when the highest bidder places the biggest stash on the table. I'm looking at you, Johnny Damon.

The biggest shock with baseball free agency was when former Texas Rangers' ace Cliff Lee did just the opposite. Before the World Series had even ended, I was telling my friends that it really bothered me that Lee would probably be wearing the dreaded pinstripes when spring training rolled around. Pretty much everyone figured he'd end up in the Bronx because they were really the only ones with the financial clout to entice him in. Hank Steinbrenner and crew offered out a 7 year deal valued at $150 million. The longer everyone waited to hear about the signing, the more it seemed inevitable.

Until the news broke last night as I was heading to bed. Cliff Lee is returning to the Philadelphia Phillies for a $120 million, five year contract. To me, that says a lot about his character. He left $30 million on the table to go back to play in a place he liked and where his family was happy. Not that his baseball career is going to suffer because of the move. Hell, if nothing else Philly now has arguably the best rotation in the league. But for once, money wasn't everything to a professional athlete. Don't get me wrong, he is still going to be insanely rich. But probably a lot happier.

I'm sure it wasn't the final deciding factor in Lee's signing, but I can't help but think about some news stories I read that came out after the Rangers were playing the Yankees in the Bronx during this year's ALCS. Where Yankees fans were rude, cursed, and even spat at Rangers players' wives in the stands. Maybe thing about this next time, jerks. Be nice. You never know what you could gain or lose.

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