By Mary Paoletti
Inside the home of Cliff Lee. December 13, 2010. Lee sits at the kitchen table with his wife Kristen and agent Darek Braunecker.
Braunecker: Hands are tented in front of his face. He rubs the bridge of his nose slowly before speaking. Alright, Cliff. We've been over the numbers one hundred times. Where do you want to play baseball this year?
A phone rings. Lee's wife Kristen picks it up. She holds a hand over the mouthpiece and turns to her husband.
Kristen: Honey, it's CC again.
Lee: Sighs Tell him I appreciated the muffin basket but there are a few other things involved in my decision than that. And ask him why all 12 muffins were half-eaten already. Pauses Actually, scratch that last part.
Kristen: Okay. She speaks gently into the phone and hangs it up. Can I just take the damn thing off the hook? It's been ringing non-stop since you shut off your cell and I'm going crazy, babe. Josh sounds drunk and if I have to hear Michael cry again...I just... I can't even.
Lee: Frowns No, not just yet. I think Darek and I are getting close to something here.
Kristen sits back down.
Braunecker: So. Like I said, a deal with New York seems most lucrative. You're looking at 132 million, six years and a 16 million player option...
Braunecker: Kristen, be reasonable.
Kristen: I said no. Folds arms Those people spit on me during the ALCS, Darek.
Kristen: They. Spit. On. Me.... Darek.
The phone rings. Kristen answers it while maintaining her death-glare on Braunecker. She listens for a moment then again covers the receiver.
Kristen: The caller says he's George Steinbrenner. From the grave.
Lee: Yeah, you can go ahead and take the phone off the hook, baby.
Kristen unplugs the phone.
Braunecker: Oookay. Let's talk about Texas. Is Texas out? Are we crossing them off the list?
Lee: Yup. Let's do it.
Braunecker: So there's just New York and Philly left. Paues Listen, Cliff, I know you're leaning toward the Phils but I honestly don't understand why. They shipped you out! They kept Blanton for god's sake.
Lee: Sticks his chin out They tried to get rid of Joe first.
Braunecker: But they didn't. And think of the money, man. You'd have to leave 30 million on the table! Are you really willing to do that for a team that burned you?
Lee: Shouts THEY DIDN'T DO IT BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T LOVE ME ANYMORE.
Braunecker and Kristen sit in stunned silence. Braunecker slowly tilts his head to the side and furrows his brow. Kristen's mouth opens and closes several times like a clown fish. A solid two minutes pass.
Braunecker: Clears his throat The Flyers suck.
Kristen: Gently He's right, Cliff.
Lee: True. Pauses But my mind is made up. I'm signing with Philadelphia. You know why? Because, with my help, the Phils can put together the best starting rotation in the history of America: Halladay, Oswalt, Hamels, Lee... and some other guy. And the clincher? Cheesesteaks. I freaking love cheesesteaks.
Kristen jumps up and hugs her husband. Braunecker leans back in his chair, defeated and confused.
Lee: Braunecker, call Cashman and tell him to go to hell. Kristen, plug that phone back in. I need to call Jon Daniels to say thank you and goodbye. And baby, call Hamilton's wife and tell her to put him on lockdown. Might get ugly over there.