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December 15, 2010 9:00 AM

Column Awards of the Week (12/8-12/14)

By updating RealClearSports I read hundreds of articles every week but sometimes there are particularly passages that need highlighting. And to make these passages more palatable I'm doing them in award form! The awards are completely random and will change weekly.

Column Awards for slide.jpgWho saw Cliff Lee going back to the Phillies? It seemed inevitable that the Yankees would lure Lee in with the almighty dollar. But Lee turned down something like $50 million to head back to Philly where we've got to assume he thinks he has the best chance to win. Lee is being held up as a hero. He turned down the Evil Empire and more money for a chance to win and go to a place where he think he'll be happy. Funny that his decision was very similar to LeBron's yet Lee's a hero and LeBron is vilified. LeBron turned down more money for a chance to win and live in a place he wanted to live. But Lee went about it quietly whereas LeBron basked in the attention he loves so much.

The other reason Lee is held in such high regard with fans is because he did what most fans think they would do if they were in his situation. Most fans would like to think they would spurn a higher offer for a chance to play on a winning team. They think about taking less money (but not too much less) so that the team they choose can use the money it saved to buy better players with the common goal of winning titles.

The Yankees, having spent so much time in attempting to acquire Cliff Lee are now in a precarious position. Their rotation is paper-thin and there's not many quality starters left on the open market. Cliff Lee not only gave Phillies' fans an early Christmas present but all those that hate the Yankees. Merry Christmas everyone! On to the awards!

New York Arrogance

Andy Martino of the New York Daily News thinks Cliff Lee might regret signing with the Phillies: The Yankees would have given Lee not just more money, but the security of knowing he would not ever be stuck for long on an irrelevant team. The Phillies might be great next year, and a rotation beginning with Halladay, Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt sounds like one of the best ever. But what if it doesn't immediately click, due to injuries or inconsistency or other human frailty (remember, that group without Lee was supposed to win a World Series this year)?

This Phils team has a one-year window before it sees sweeping change. Oswalt, Jimmy Rollins, Raul Ibanez, Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson have potentially expiring deals, and could follow Werth out of town in 11 months. Halladay, Hamels and Victorino might follow in the ensuing years. And Cliff Lee might be stuck chasing the ghosts of an elusive memory, and wishing he had just taken the money.

Sure - this is all possible. But what about the Yankees' situation? An aging Jeter and A-Rod, dicey rotation (even Sabathia's had knee problems), aging Rivera, and as we've seen from the past decade, spending doesn't guarantee success. Over the past decade the Yankees have won one World Series. That's the same number as the Phillies have won. They COULD implode but they probably have a less likelihood of that occurring than the Yankees do.

Propagating False Logic

Here's something else Martino said that I've heard others say but never really bought into it: Athletes are among the most competitive people in this competitive country, and in their business, contracts indicate status and success nearly as much as titles do.

I understand that those contracts might be status symbols among players but it has little to do with their fame/success. Peyton Manning has restructured his contract a few times to allow the Colts to keep some of his weapons on offense. Last season LeBron wasn't among one of the highest paid in the league - you think that hurt his success? His salary is just a small portion of his income. You achieve fame/success by putting up stats and winning. It has absolutely nothing to do with how much you make.


Expecting Too Much from the Reader

Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports wrote about LaMichael James and how he believes he has gotten a bad rap: You had the wrong opinion about him, Kelly (his coach) said. James is a good kid. The reports you read that included words like "domestic abuse" were overblown and overwrought.

"It's out there to read," Kelly said again this week. "I would encourage people to read it. Formulate your opinion after reading it." 

He was talking about the court documents that detail James' misdemeanor conviction for physical harassment involving a former girlfriend. In this sentencing memorandum, James doesn't come off as innocent, but he certainly isn't the monster that the initial reports painted.

That's it?? Do you expect readers to go check out court documents? Here's the summary - He had a female guest staying at his place and his girlfriend got jealous, went over to his place, confronted the girl and he physically removed her, pushing her into a car. She grabbed his keys and ran. He chased and tackled. Was that so hard to include?

In Need of an Economics Course

Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News was confused between the Yankees' different attitudes toward Jeter and Lee: The Yankees don't care how much they have to spend on Lee because the Red Sox now have Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford locked up. When the Yankees absolutely have to have somebody, can't live without him, they spend whatever they need to. ... But, man oh man, the Yankees sure did have to hold the line on Jeter. Various Yankee executives and accountants nearly tore rotator cuffs patting themselves on the back for saving Hal Steinbrenner and Hank Steinbrenner and all Steinbrenner heirs everywhere some money on the captain of the team.

I don't understand how Lupica doesn't see the difference between the two. It's simply supply and demand. No one wanted Jeter - at least not anywhere close to what they knew the Yanks would pay. Multiple teams wanted Lee and they knew they'd have to pay an exorbitant amount to get him. It's not about loyalty. Baseball is a business and the Yanks aren't going to spend more than they have to.

A Better Journalist Than a Coach

Gwen Knapp of the San Francisco Chronicle was incredulous over Mike Singletary's QB pick this past week: Singletary now has sacked Troy Smith to return to Alex Smith, who has a 1-6 record this season and a 17-30 overall record as the 49ers' starter. What can Singletary be thinking?

I can't read the guys mind but he was probably thinking Alex Smith gave them the best chance to win. He probably didn't think Smith would finish the game with a passer rating of 130.9 but he had faith in the QB and that's why he's the coach and Gwen Knapp is the journalist.

In State of Denial

Gerry Callahan of the Boston Herald is amazed by the Patriots' recent success. He compared this year's team to that of the '07 squad. Here's how he described the '07 Pats: With Camera-gate to fuel their fire, they played with an edge and an attitude and a chip the size of Rhode Island on their shoulders. They went 16-0. They scored 37 points a game. They won by an average of almost 20 points, and, of course, they never, ever took their cleats off their opponents' throats.

Camera-gate? It's like how the South calls the Civil War the War of Northern Aggression. Is this how New England refers to Spygate? Whatever helps you sleep at night cheaters!

Headline of the Week

I think this is actually from a little over a week ago but it was too good not to include. From the Orlando Sentinel: Column Awards headline.jpg

If you don't know the story, some Oregon kids stole a giant mascot head designed to look like Lee Corso. This editor clearly knew what they were doing when they wrote that one. Kudos to you sir or madam. Kudos indeed.

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