The Bronx Job

With all of the breaking down of how Game 3 could have unfolded and how the Rangers would do and how the Yankees would do, we all seemed to forget one key factor of the game last night:

Cliff Lee was pitching for a paycheck.

Remember he is a free agent this off season and will be the most coveted name on the board.

And if you get the Yankees lusting after you, then you can basically ask for any amount of money that pops into your mind.

Cliff Lee is not a poor man. He’s already made 23 million pigs as a pitcher. Even with agent fees, union dues, taxes and buying lots of Christmas gifts, he can make rent each month.

But being a free agent ace… wanted by ALL teams… and beating the Yankees 3 out of 3 post season games in the last 2 years (including a complete game in the World Series)…

Last night was the greatest audition since Susan Boyle!

If A. J. Burnett was worth $16 million in the open market, can you imagine what Cliff Lee will command?

All I know is that the contract he will sign will take care of his bills, his children’s bills, his grandchildren’s bills…

Chances are when Cliff Lee IV graduates from Princeton with his tuition 100% paid for, he can say “thanks Great Grand Dad for beating the Yankees that night in 2010.”

And if THAT isn’t motivation to win, I don’t know what is!!!
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I don’t blame you, Josh

Josh Beckett and the Red Sox have been going back and forth on a contract extension.

Should it be 4 years? Should it be 5 years?

The Sox gave John Lackey 5 years, so why not Beckett who has already delivered a World Series title and an ALCS MVP to the Red Sox?

Was Beckett going to be the latest in the “Ungraceful Exit Red Sox” team?

In Fenway that night as a commentator was one of those ungraceful exiters, Nomar Garciaparra… who had turned down a massive contract before the 2004 season… then had a subpar season… and then was traded away by the Sox… and NEVER saw a contract offer that big again.

Last night Beckett was no good. He didn’t last 5 innings. He let up homers. He went too deep in the count with the Brett Gardners of the world.

Less than 24 hours after that game, Beckett said “Let me see that contract again!”

And lo and behold he signed it.

4 years… 5 years… if he has a sub par year then haggling over that last year will look awfully silly.

Just ask Nomar.

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The Twins blew it on announcing the Joe Mauer contract

About a week ago, the Twins did what many people thought would have been impossible:

They found a way to keep hometown hero Joe Mauer from leaving via free agency and going into a bidding war between both New York teams, the Red Sox, Cubs, Angels and any other big rollers!

Now it’s not like he is going to go broke as his deal averages $23 million a year, but the Twins have come a long way from being a team that players automatically leave.

But how was this monumental event in the franchise’s history become public?

Through a release and a press conference in Florida.

I’m sorry but the Twins dropped the ball to have a tremendous theatrical event with this contract.

Nick Blackburn signing for 4 years? Sure, send out a press release and have a meeting in Florida.

But Joe Mauer staying with the Twins? That is a gigantic middle finger to everyone who said the Twins couldn’t compete and should be contracted?

The Twins needed to announce this with a little bit of flair.

You may not have liked how Roger Clemens appeared in the Steinbrenner box in 2007 to announce he was coming back to the Yankees.

But it was memorable.

It was a secret and it was announced not via a press release but in front of a huge crowd who went berzerk.

The Twins might not be the Yankees… I know Minnesotans are more low key people than New Yorkers.

But this needed a little bit of Broadway showmanship.

Just imagine…

The Pohlads and GM Bill Smith strike a deal with Joe Mauer during spring training… but they keep it under the TC on their hats. Reporters continue to hound everyone about the extension, but they stay mum.

Then it is opening day at the new Target Field.

The place is packed and Twin fans are going nuts for their new home… but there is still the apprehension in the air about their hometown hero staying long term.

Flags of past titles are raised by Twins heroes of the past. Play by play announcer Dick Bremer introduces each of the legens.

“Hey, it’s Harmon Killebrew! It’s Rod Carew! It’s Kent Hrbek! It’s Frank Viola! It’s Gary Gaetti!”

The players are introduced… and no doubt Mauer will get the biggest applause. (And also there will be certainly people holding up signs saying things like “Don’t Go Joe!”)

Then Joe is called to home plate.

He is handed his AL MVP Trophy by the Pohlad’s and Bill Smith. Mauer holds it up (like Justin Morneau did when he won his a few years ago.)

The crowd goes nuts… but in the back of everyone’s mind they wonder “is this all fleeting.”

Remember Johan Santana raised a pair of Cy Young Awards at home plate himself.

So the ceremony wraps up… until Dick Bremer says “Wait, I think we have one more thing to take care of.”

Then Catherine Puckett and Kirby Puckett Jr., the children of Kirby, walk out with a rolled up piece of paper ink well and a quill.

A small table and chair are set up behind home plate.

The Puckett kids hand the piece of paper to GM Bill Smith who reveals that it is an agreement for an 8 year contract extension for Joe Mauer.

Crowd starts to buzz.

“Do you want to sign it Joe?” asks color commentator Bert Blyleven.

Joe takes the microphone. “I don’t know.” Then looking to the crowd. “Do YOU want me to sign it?”

Now the place goes ape.

The right field scoreboard starts flashing “SIGN IT, JOE!”

The crowd starts chanting it.

He takes the quill and signs it… right there at home plate where he will call his home for the next 8 years. And when the contract ends, he would have spent 13 1/2 seasons as a Minnesota Twin.

Now the crowd goes nuts.

The Twins have a new home and a legit superstar to call their own. A Minnesotan who will STAY in Minnesota!

Mauer takes a Cal Ripken-esque lap around the ballpark, high fiving the fans who will cheer him on at least through 2017!

Then he gives one last wave to the crowd and the Twins play ball.

I’m actually not kidding.

I didn’t suggest that Prince is lowered onto the pitchers mound or someone busts out a Ouija board to get the financial approval of the ghost of Carl Pohlad.

I didn’t have a Big Paul Bunyon and Babe the Blue Ox wander onto the field.

I had a small table, a chair and a signing of a piece of paper. (Clearly it will be a ceremonial contract. The real one would have been signed in secrecy.)

I feel a moment like this should have been played to the crowd. This is a unique signing and the joy of it should have been a collective outburst shared by tens of thousands of Minnesotans… sitting OUTSIDE together… in early April.

You Christen the new park with a moment Twins fans will remember forever on the very first day.

Provided they aren’t under 9 feet of snow.

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