NEW YORK - OCTOBER 18: Cliff Lee #33 of the Texas Rangers throws a pitch against the New York Yankees in Game Three of the ALCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Yankee Stadium on October 18 2010 in New York New York. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
When momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.
Bob Nightengale has a story about Cliff Lee that includes a lot of talk about his impending free agency and the assumption that the Yanks are going to moneywhip him.
But it also includes a lot of quotes from Cliff's wife Kristen that leads you to believe that the Rangers may have a better chance than many think.
Lee's eerie calm, which leads to his confidence, may come from his 9-year-old son, Jaxon. Lee carried him in his arms, clutching him tightly, during the celebration on the field after the Rangers won the pennant.
Jaxon was just four months old when he was diagnosed with acute myelogen leukemia. He was given a 30% chance to live, Kristen says. He went through chemotherapy, and later radiation treatment and a stem cell transplant. Today, he is in remission, and a vibrant, healthy boy.
"After we went through that," Kristen says, "Cliff knows that baseball isn't life or death."
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It has been long assumed that Lee, who is earning $9.6 million this season, would end up a Yankee, given that they spent $243.5 million on two starters the last time they failed to reach the World Series in 2008. Those two starters now are ready to recruit him: CC Sabathia is one of Lee's best friends and a former teammate in Cleveland, and A.J. Burnett is another Arkansas native, who like Lee, is a client of agent Darek Braunecker.
Yet, Lee and Kristen say, the Dallas-Fort Worth area feels like home to their family, which includes daughter Maci, 7. They are just a 40-minute flight from their hometown of Benton, Ark.; they are moving into a restored 1927 house in Little Rock this winter.
They attended the same middle and high schools, and their families and friends still live there.
"That's the greatest thing, being so close to home," says Kristen, who says she is superstitious and refuses to answer her phone when Lee pitches.
"Cliff can fit in anywhere, but it makes my life a lot easier. We've never had a short commute before. Having a direct flight from Little Rock is great."
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Perhaps the Rangers' greatest sales pitch simply was having Kristen sit in the visiting family section at Yankee Stadium during the playoffs. She says there were ugly taunts. Obscenities. Cups of beer thrown. Even fans spitting from the section above.
"The fans did not do good things in my heart," Kristen says.
"When people are staring at you, and saying horrible things, it's hard not to take it personal."
Read the whole thing.