Cliff Lee's Return: So Stunning You Could Spit

By Ross Klavans
|  Tuesday, Dec 14, 2010  |  Updated 10:42 PM EDT
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Phillies Fans Excited About Cliff Lee Coming Back

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Cliff Lee #33 of the Texas Rangers looks on from the dugout during the 2010 World Series.

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Charlie: Cliff's Got a Lot of Doc in Him

Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel is elated that Cliff Lee will be joining Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels in the team's rotation. And Manuel has no plans on messing with his aces out on the mound.

So What Number Will Cliff Lee Wear?

The folks down at the Phillies merchandise shop let us in on Cliff Lee's new number.
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Who was expectorating this?
 
Lethal lefty Cliff Lee, darling of the 2009 Phillies postseason and victim of the team's payroll puffery will be re-fit with red pinstripes.

Pending the Phils customary web confirmation and welcome-back newser, Lee will rejoin the team for five years at $100 million.

That's at least one year and $30 million less than what the Yankees had dangled in front of the star southpaw.
 
Perhaps dangle is the right word to use. What's danging today could be the unsightly but fateful froth of a fresh, Yankee Stadium loogie.
 
Anyone trying to figure out just how selfless Lee was at turning down such huge coin from the Bronz Bombers may not be aware of the ladies point of view. More specifically, Lee's wife Kristen, who reportedly was spat upon by at least one juiced-up Yanks fan during October's A.L.C.S.  A member of the Texas Rangers at the time, Lee downplayed the incident by chalking it up to too much booze. 

Even the The New York Post reported that turning Kristen Lee into a human spittoon would not affect Lee's free agent maneuvering when it came to signing with the Yankees.
 
Allow me to hock back and launch:  Not so much.
 
Unless we hear differently from Lee or his wife, we can never prove the assertion that the spitting incident drove the Yankees' next payroll conquest southwestward down the New Jersey Turnpike.

However, allow me to take you inside the Lee household for an intimate, albeit speculative, exchange between a professional athlete and his spouse:
 
KRISTEN: 
     Cliff honey, did you know I got spit on tonight?
CLIFF:
      What?
KRISTEN:
      Yeah, I was spit on right in the Rangers wives section.
CLIFF:
      Are you okay? Tell me about it.
KRISTEN:
      Well, the girls and I were chatting about Ian Kinsler's batting stance when this guy hanging on the railing above us started yelling and spitting.
      He also threw some beer at us and screamed at the top of his lungs. Some of the spit hit me. It was so gross. How can fans behave like that?
CLIFF:
       You know fans, Honey, especially the ones in New York. By the way, you're taking this pretty well. No yelling, no crying, not even asking to get a tetanus shot. I guess it wasn't that big of a deal.
KRISTEN:
      Oh, it was big Cliff. It was big. You know HOW big?
CLIFF:
      No?
KRISTEN:
      C.C. Sabathia big.
 
Hell hath no fury like a woman spat upon.

And so, with that private and metaphorical middle finger thrust toward the Bronx, perhaps the Lees started pondering more friendly confines in which to lay down roots.

Perhaps it was cheesesteaks wid (or widout). Perhaps it was the big city with the small town feel. Perhaps it was a chance to rejoin a pitching rotation that now borders on the historically talented. Perhaps it was the clubhouse camraderie.
 
Also, don't forget the Phillies in all this. General manager Ruben Amaro played opossum until the winter meetings had ended. Cliff Lee and his agent always knew the Phils were around to try to make amends for last year. Now, it appears it will actually happen.
 
All it took (possibly) was some New York spit and Philly polish.

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