Like Fine Whine

Free Agents, Spring Training

The embittered reaction of Yankees fans toward Cliff Lee is only increasing with time. Rather than get past the feeling of rejection, they’ve chosen to wallow in it; to continually attack Lee; to utter stupidity and bratty randomness like, “we didn’t need him anyway”; or “he didn’t appreciate the privilege of being a Yankee”; or simply by cussing him.

They’re making a mistake and it’s not just because they look foolish and ignorant.

It’s becoming more common that stars who would automatically be ticketed for the Yankees or Red Sox once they reached free agency are contractually locked up by their current clubs. This past winter wasn’t an isolated occurrence; the number of impact free agents was limited to Lee and then fell off a “cliff” to Carl Pavano.

The names floating around long into the winter are out there for a reason. Either they’re older and looking for bigger money for a longer duration than teams are willing to accept; they’re of questionable health; or have other issues that preclude clubs from getting into a deranged bidding war.

This too is going to affect the Yankees as they try to maintain cost certainty—as much as the Yankees are willing to do so.

What if the way the Yankees fans are responding to Lee after his decision gets around amongst the players who have options to make similarly large paychecks in preferable venues? What if the spewed hatred incites pause for the free agents who take offense to the subjective nature of the response?

So Lee would’ve been a great guy if he’d chosen to go to the Yankees, but he’s reviled and loathed because he decided to go to the Phillies?

What’s the genesis of the complaint? That the foundation of the country’s economic system—capitalism—benefited the Phillies rather than the Yankees? It’s been one of the imperative aspects of how the Yankees got where they are in the first place—that they had more money to spend than anyone else—but the anger stems from the system not yielding their desires; instead of accepting facts and moving on, we see relentless whining and abuse directed at Cliff Lee.

He went where he wanted to play and to a team that has a better chance to win.

Like it or not, it’s true.

He took someone else’s money. This warrants him being the target of vitriol? When the system doesn’t work for you, it’s time to either change the system or attack he who was resistant to the lure of cash and “Yankees lore”?

Reading between the lines, this isn’t about Lee spurning the Yankees in and of itself; it’s a part of the culture of entitlement that’s become ingrained in the mindset of a large segment of fans who think that everyone wants to be a Yankee; that because they want, therefore they should get.

It doesn’t work that way.

Becoming accustomed to unprecedented success has limited the joy of victory. The charm that defined the Yankees of 1996 and even 1998 and 1999 has been diminished by the off-putting attitude that permeates the organization and is spreading like an communicable disease through the fan base.

Any failure—be it on-field or off—is treated as a personal affront; this is the catalyst for a drastic downfall the likes of which is inevitable for any so-called empire who become too arrogant and self-important to conceive the prospect of failure; to repair the cracks as they happen; to adjust the expectations to be more in line with objective truth.

My advice to the still complaining Yankees fans regarding Lee?

Get over it!!

It’s capitalism.

It’s baseball.

No matter how many self-indulgent tantrums you throw, you don’t always win and Lee’s not going to demand a trade to the Yankees; you’re not getting Felix Hernandez; and with Andy Pettitte‘s retirement, you’ve got major pitching issues.

How badly this hurts the club’s playoff prospects remains to be seen, but they’re there no matter how much screaming you do.

Learn it the easy way by listening to me.

Or learn it the hard way by continuing down the road you’re on and experience the harsh hand of reality as it slaps you down with remorseless brutality.

It’s up to you.

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2 thoughts on “Like Fine Whine

  1. Okay, I’ll confess…I considered completely skipping this post once I saw the title. I thought “I’m not up to being yelled at by Paul for being a Yankees fan.” But 2 seconds later, I remembered that I always love what you write (even if I don’t happen to agree), so I clicked on the link. And I’m glad that I did. Nice post.

    I was deeply disappointed when Lee decided to go elsewhere—-a reasonable and fair reaction, IMHO. I wanted my favorite team to improve–who doesn’t? However, I moved on after a few days of mourning. I have grown very weary of the fact that the “Yankees missing out on Cliff Lee” is still an issue with some segments of the media and with the chunk of Yankees fans that embarrass me and make me say, “See? This is why people hate the Yankees, you schmuck!”

    If I had a magic wand, I’d wave it and then Cliff Lee would be a Yankee. But I don’t. So he isn’t. Instead, I’m going to sit back and enjoy what the Yankees do have. I’m going to go to Yankee Stadium as often as possible and cheer them on. I’m going to attend SI Yankees and Trenton Thunder games and get excited about homegrown prospects.

    I am going to enjoy my team. I like to think that I got the hell over it 2 or 3 days after Lee announced his decision.

  2. i didn’t get to the end of this article but i got the gist of it. So what if i hate him for not wanting to be a Yankee? I do hate him and wish him nothing but bad luck. I love my team and anyone who prefers to play somewhere else for less money is the object of my antipathy. I guess it’s a slow time and you needed an off day. i get it…

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