As part of a piece today attempting to detect Cliff Lee’s intentions as a 2011 free agent, Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY conducted a recent interview with Kristen Lee, the wife of the Rangers pitcher.
As part of the interview, Mrs. Lee accused New York fans of unspeakably vile behavior at Yankee Stadium during the American League Championship Series.
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.”
Adding to the veracity of Kristen Lee’s claims was a photograph taken by the wife of Texas Ranger Matt Treanor, volleyball star Misty May-Treanor. In the picture, posted to May-Treanor’s Facebook account, she wrote the following caption:
Yep 3 Yankee fans that show respect…..spit anyone nothing like a shower of it. Thanks fellas very classy!
In the context of Lee’s impending free agency, it’s hard not to think that the soft spoken Arkansas native won’t weigh his wife’s discomfort in New York as he makes his decision on what team to sign with in 2011.
Add in the ugly imagery of Yankee fan behavior broadcast nationally during the 2010 playoffs and it isn’t unreasonable to think New York fans may have cost their own American League team a chance to land MLB’s top offseason free agent.
Those who dismiss the influence of player wives when it comes to free agency decisions as it pertains to New York must have a short memory.
The NEW YORK DAILY NEWS reported in 2008 that Leigh Teixeira, wife of New York Yankee Mark Teixeira, played a notable role in his decision to throw in with the bombers:
Throughout his free agency, Teixeira solicited his wife’s opinion and she kept saying, “I just want you to be happy,” Teixeira recalled. On date night, Teixeira asked, “Everything’s equal, where do you want to go? She finally said, ‘I want you to be a Yankee.’”
… In the end, it was his wife who helped the Yankees get their new first baseman. “(Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman) Cash should give Leigh a hug,” Teixeira joked.
Sounding more and more like New York’s only chance to land Lee is if the only pants in the family are by Majestic. (With moisture-wicking!)