The distance from Benton, Arkansas to Arlington, Texas is 285 miles. The distance from Benton to New York City is more than 1,100 miles. It's easier to find a parking spot in Arlington.
I only bring that up because so many people - media types and Yankee fans alike - are assuming that it's all but a done deal that Benton native Cliff Lee will be a Yankee next year.
Lee's approaching free agency for the first time in his career. He's put himself in position for a ginormous payday, and once the World Series is over, he will likely have a number of suitors, not just the Yankees. Heck, I'm sure the Nationals will make him an offer too.
I suspect that wherever Lee signs, he'll easily eclipse the contract the Yankees gave C.C. Sabathia two years ago. Sabathia's deal included an opt-out clause after three years. What's to say that Sabathia doesn't walk away after the 2011 season if Lee gets more money than C.C. is making, whether Cliff signs with the Yankees or someone else? If Lee does sign elsewhere, you'd have to think that Sabathia would happily become a free agent once again.
Here's the thing, though: Cliff Lee has given no indication that he's particularly enamored of New York. Should the Rangers win the World Series, he may want to stay put to see if they can do it again next year. Texas just signed a new mega-millions TV deal with Fox SportsNet, and their new ownership group contains a couple of billionaires as well, so money may not be a factor. Also, Cliff may decide he'd rather have the occasional lunch with Rangers' President Nolan Ryan rather than Yankee prexy Randy Levine.
Hey, he may very well just take the highest dollar amount offered, but perhaps he's not that shallow. We'll have to wait and see.