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Cliff Lee

By Pat Finegan :  15/12/2010 :  Comments (18) :
As we all know, loyalty is rare amongst multi-millionaire athletes and the clubs that employ them. I am a baseball fan, in addition to a football fan, the club I support is the Philadelphia Phillies. In mid-season 2009, we acquired a pitcher named Cliff Lee. Lee was (and still is) one of the best pitchers in the game and signing him made us arguably the best team in baseball. Lee loved Philadelphia and the feeling was mutual.

We had dealt away some young players to get Lee and the future wasn't looking as bright as the present so we dealt him away to the Seattle Mariners and ended up getting some young guys and another great pitcher by the name of Roy Halladay. Everyone in the city was disappointed to see Lee go.

In 2010, He played half of the year with Seattle then was traded again to Texas. He led Texas to the World Series (baseball championship) where they would eventually lose.

This offseason, his contract ran out. There was talk of him returning to Texas or going to the New York Yankees. I was shocked, as was everyone else, to hear yesterday, that he had returned to Philadelphia. There was supposedly no way the Phillies could sign him as he was way out of their budget. I later found out that he had turned down $38 million (£25 million) to rejoin the Phillies.

Most athletes go where the money is but not all. There is still hope that Rodwell, Fellaini, Coleman, and our other youngsters will see the light and stay at Everton. Unfortunately, not every athlete is Cliff Lee but there is hope that maybe not everyone can be bought.

Reader Comments

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Michael Coffey
1   Posted 16/12/2010 at 08:02:36

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Pat, I suspect that this, ahem, left field anecdote will not draw too many responses, so here's something that struck me.

Many people beleive that the ludicrous wages top stars demand are a sign of arrogance. I believe that they are, in fact, testament to a deep insecurity. In a life where you are surrounded by hangers on, fair-weather friends, agents and other leeches, it may be heard to actually trust the adulation. Meanwhile, contracts are virtually valueless. In addition, the famous "career threatening injury" is always just one Jimmy Case away.

In a world of such uncertainties, money is probably the only hard fact; so much so that it becomes a means of "keeping score", the only tangible measure of self worth. ("I must be the best because I earn more than....".)

If Cliff Lee really has come back to Philadelphia for little more than the price of one of those enormous sandwiches you eat there, I would suggest it's because he simply has a healthy sense of self-confidence and security. And good on him.
Sean Swinney
2   Posted 16/12/2010 at 09:25:52

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Pat, I, like you, am a baseball fan in addition to a football fan. The team I follow happens to be the Texas Rangers, so as you can imagine I'm feeling a bit down right now about the Cliff Lee signing. That doesn't stop me though from having the utmost respect for Lee and his decision to go where he loves for less money, so I completely agree with you on that point.

However, it needs to be pointed out that Lee didn't sign for peanuts. Although it is difficult to compare baseball and football I doubt that a team of Everton's financial clout would have the resources to make an offer on the level Lee received from Philly, who have either the second or third highest payroll in MLB I believe.

Perhaps it is simply living in the US, but the perception I have always gotten is that, while athletes in other sports certainly aren't saints, the level of loyalty shown by the average footballer is abysmally low.
Anthony Hawkins
3   Posted 16/12/2010 at 09:30:35

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Whilst Cliff Lee is a unique individual in modern sporting terms I can't help but feel he was an under-performer for a number of years. Maybe it's the way it has come across; however, it appears Lee showed enough potential for clubs to be interested but never really fulfilled that potential until Texas. This in itself would keep his fee down.

The driver behind modern sportsmen's wages is initially the desire to get a better rate of pay. It always has been and always will be. Where things have changed is what they are being offered. Alan Shearer was about the first I recall amongst the higher paid footballers and that was driven by Newcastle's desire for him to play at their club. What follows after is where it all escalates.

It may be influenced by the people they choose surround themselves with but more pressing is the individuals desire to be equally acknowledged for their ability and contribution to the team. Players who consider themselves to be as good or better than the highest paid earner at the club. Newly purchased players want to be seen as the jewel in the crown just as much as the clubs want to parade their new signings as being the best.

To reflect and state the players wages are driven purely by the players requests is too easy and clean. The clubs are as much to blame although many clubs might not like how things have turned out, they should shoulder a lot of the blame.

Take Chelsea and Man City as perfect examples. The main reason many of the players are at the club is because of the ridiculous amounts offered for their services. Okay, it's easy to say the players set out their stall, and they probably did; however, neither club HAD to pay that amount and both clubs could have achieved similar results with considerably less expenditure.

On a side note, the amounts footballers, particularly, get paid, its more to do with image rights and marketing. Plus the relatively short careers meaning they need to gather as much now to keep them in a manner they are accustomed into their old age.
David S Shaw
4   Posted 16/12/2010 at 09:59:26

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Just remember, Cliff Lee is a few bad games away from getting booed and slagged off. Other fans are like Evertonians aren't they?
Andy Callan
5   Posted 16/12/2010 at 13:02:09

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Unfortunately if these players were any good they won;t stay at Everton very long as couldn't afford to complete with the likes of City anymore.

Lets face it Yaya Toure is on £220k per week FFS - how could we complete with that....?!
Jake Davis
6   Posted 16/12/2010 at 13:33:48

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Let's get real with Cliff Lee.

He left a reported $30+ million on the table from the Yankees, to sign a contract with the Phils worth $24 million a season (or roughly $1 million every time he starts a game).

The Phils had the 4th highest payroll in the entire league last season, so he wasn't exactly going to a team known for being tight with funds. It wasn't a matter if the Phils could pay him, it was a matter of how much they Phils would pay him.

Lee showing loyalty to the Phils is a bit of stretch. While he obviously must have liked something about his time there in order to return, the Phils had his services for half a season in 2009, then shipped him off to one of the worst teams in the league the following winter.

Lee isn't unique in showing loyalty to a team, he is unique in showing loyalty to team that did just the opposite for him. If anything, Lee should be commended for his short memory, not his salary.
Dennis Stevens
7   Posted 16/12/2010 at 14:09:35

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I blame Tommy Trinder!
David Barks
8   Posted 16/12/2010 at 15:41:39

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He did not turn down $38 million. He took a 5-year deal with an option for a 6th instead of a 7-year deal. He accepted a deal somewhere in the region of 5 years at $120 Million with an option for a 6th year where he would be paid $27.5 million. He turned down the Yankees offer of 7 years and $161 Million. So he's hardly walking away from any money, he's making basically the same amount of money a year as he would have if he went to the Yankees.

And as has been mentioned the Phillies have one of the top pay rolls in the game. Hardly a comparison to Everton. Your attempt to try and make this guy a saint as if he walked away from tens of millions of dollars a year is laughable at best. Not to mention that he chose to go to a team where he will be one of the best 4 pitchers, instead of leading a team as THE best pitcher, shying away from the pressure and responsibility of leading a team.

Michael Kenrick
Editorial Team
9   Posted 16/12/2010 at 16:35:13

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Thank you, David. I know nothing about baseball and was not inclined to putting this up as a post, but presumed there must be some point to Pat's touching story.

Clearly there wasn't. Leaving out the fact that he is actually being paid millions should have keyed me in. My apologies to those who waded through this nonsense.
Gerry Quinn
10   Posted 16/12/2010 at 17:34:08

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Michael,
Whilst you are still in that absolutely miserable mood from Saturday's "debacle" against Wigan - can you take it out on Moysie's smiling photograph please?
Can I suggest you remove it and replace it with Hibbo with his arms up as if he has just scored...you never know, our luck may just change :) :)
Joey Brown
11   Posted 16/12/2010 at 18:58:29

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I agree with David #8, The Phillies are no where near what Everton are... They're more like Chelsea on Man City, they've been buying players for a number of years. And they BOUGHT this one. The only thing he did was pick one of the two teams most likely to get to the World Series again this season. So he picked Chelsea over Man U, big deal.
Eugene Ruane
12   Posted 16/12/2010 at 21:25:40

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I didn't mind the post but felt there should have been a 7th-post stretch.

Sings: Take me out..."

Etc.
Jamie Crowley
13   Posted 17/12/2010 at 02:04:05

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Pat -

It's a serious far fetch to paint Lee as some saint with higher intentions than most because he went back to the Phillies - for obscene money and a more obscenely long contract.

I'd suggest next time you bring up baseball you educate the British and European masses of one Cal Ripken.

There's a man all Evertonians should ask their players to emmulate - and a man Rodwell, Felliani, and Coleman would do well to learn of.

He is the only professional athlete I respect 100% in my 41 years of living. And he showed loyalty that was simply unquestionable, work ethic of a gladiator, heart of a lion. Your Lee? Not even fit to wash Ripken's feet.

C'mon man - seriously.
Will Leaf
14   Posted 17/12/2010 at 05:43:54

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Rounders, innit?
Mark Ridings
15   Posted 17/12/2010 at 10:53:56

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Jeez ? For a minute there I though we'd signed Gordon Lee's grandson!
Sean Condon
16   Posted 17/12/2010 at 17:03:38

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Umm...don't forget Pat, that while Cliff Lee did turn down a bunch of money to go to New York, he still signed a fucking huge contract with the Phils. The interesting quote from the ace yesterday was what he said about this: "Money? After a certain point enough is enough. I want to play with the team that has the best chance to win a championship."

Fair enough. I just wonder, though, if the clock was wound back to when this Arkansas traveler was struggling with the Indians a few years ago, if he would have made the same decision had he become a free agent then and the Yankees offered considerably more than anyone else.

Anyway, even though I am a Dodger (became a fan in '77 when we moved to Canada and I saw the royal blue hats!), and I should rightfully hate the Phils as much as Lasorda did, I love watching Lee pitch (he's a surgeon in the Greg Maddux mold) and I like watching Philly play. Good luck next year without Werth in the lineup.

I do fucking hate your born again closer, Brad Lidge, though. That guy is a Grade A turd-burgler.

COYB!!!!!!!!!!!
(Whisper it... I think we're gonna turn over Shiteh.)
Simon Temme
17   Posted 18/12/2010 at 01:15:04

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Sorry, but this excellent site is about EFC and football related matters. If some posters want to put an American franchise billionaire in the frame ? great... but who gives a fuck about baseball
Jamie Crowley
18   Posted 18/12/2010 at 01:54:04

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Simon -
Want your Club to grow and have funds to sign a striker? I'd open up to Americans and their interests a little more. You might include Australians, Africans, Japanese, Thailand, China, et al......

But wait! Everton's marketing swath encompasses Liverpool! Big thinkers those folks in charge. Keep it small and manageable, to what you know, right?

Widen your scope mate.

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