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Cliff Lee signing with Phillies made Red Sox Nation rejoice


My editor is a Boston guy. I am a Boston guy. So there's a lot of Boston stuff in this space from week to week.

When my editor kicked around some ideas for this week -- the Giants historic collapse, the prowess of DeSean Jackson, Cliff Lee's decision to sign with the Phillies, etc. -- he apologized for not having anything Boston-centric.

Silly man. How can he not know that Cliff Lee signing with the Phillies is all about the Boston Red Sox?

It's always about us here in the Hub of the Universe. When Alex Rodriguez first went to the Yankees, it was all about Boston because an A-Rod deal to the Sox had been nixed by the Major League Baseball Players Association.

When Roger Clemens was traded from the Blue Jays to the Yankees, it was bigger news in Boston than it was in Toronto or New York.

Denver's Spygate and the subsequent firing of Josh McDaniels? That was all about Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.

When the Jets lined up a wall of people to create a human barrier on the sideline, that, too, was about the Patriots. Jets special teams coach Mike Westhoff said the Patriots practically invented the tactic.

Even "The Decision" had Boston overtones. Folks on the parquet floor were anxious to learn who'll be the Celtics top competition on their path back to the NBA Finals against the Lakers in June.

So yes, readers; Cliff Lee signing with the Phillies is all about Boston because of the obvious damage done to the Yankees.

We all thought Lee would go to the Yankees. The Pinstripes have the most money. That's how they got Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson, Rich Gossage and Dave Winfield back in the day. That's how they got CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira two years ago. And it was believed to be a mortal lock that Lee would wind up in the Bronx.

When the Sox bagged Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford in a span of four days at the beginning of this month, it put ever more pressure on the Yankees to reel in the big fish of the free agent class of 2010-2011.

Then came the stunning news. With New England still celebrating Theo Epstein's acquisitions of Gonzalez and Crawford, the Patriots march to the Super Bowl, and a double-digit Celtics win streak, Lee rejected the Yankees. It was big news in sports bars and classrooms across the six state region. It was another brick in the wall of Sox superiority over the Yankees this winter.

Theo made an offer to Mariano Rivera. Just to break Yankee chops. He made a lowball seven-year offer to Lee. He signed Crawford just a few hours after the Rays free agent had dinner with Yankees GM Brian Cashman. Epstein avenged his loss of Teixeira (the Sox were outbid two years ago) with the trade for Gonzalez.

And now the Yankees won't be able to throw Lee, Sabathia and Andy Pettitte at Boston's lefty-loaded lineup.

The day after Lee signed, Boston Herald Steve Buckley wrote, "Nobody would have complained yesterday had the Red Sox whipped up one of those 'hastily arranged press conferences' to announce that free agent Cliff Lee had come to term with the Philadelphia Phillies ... ''

Much was made of Lee leaving money on the table. He took $120 million over five years with the Phils when he could have had $150 million over seven years with the Yankees. He did not go for the top dollar and for that he was portrayed as crazy and/or saintly.

Personally, it did not surprise me. "Settling" for $120 million is not to be confused with a vow of poverty. Lee has guaranteed security for his family for the next seven generations. It more than anyone could spend.

The surprise if that it doesn't happen more often. The disappointing truth is that too many athletes equate money with respect.

They measure one another's wallets. They follow the advice of their agents and their players associations -- folks with interests of their own. Too many athletes leave a place where they are happy to go to a place where they are not happy just for a few more bucks. It really doesn't make sense, not when you are talking about these kinds of figures.

So Lee goes to Philly because he liked it there. And the Yankees are losers and that makes us very happy here in Boston. Lee joins a rotation which includes Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels. In Boston, we are spared the sight of Cliff Lee facing the Red Sox five or six times next season.

There was more good news Sunday when Zack Greinke was traded to the Brewers. Turns out the ace Royal righty was another guy who wanted no part of New York.

Another happy day in Beantown.