Separating truth from rumor during the baseball season is difficult enough, but during the hot stove season, it’s easy to get burned if you don’t view everything you read with a skeptical eye. We know the deal: the rumor-mongering is intended to sell papers, conjure arguments on talk radio, and stir conversation and commentary on blogs like this to keep baseball relevant in a town where both NFL teams are in first place and the Knicks look like an actual professional basketball team for the first time in six years.
Speaking of rumors, we knew the Yankees, with their financial clout and now $32 million to work with (I like Cliff Corcoran’s conservative accounting), would be big players in this winter’s free agent market. The past 30 hours or so have seen one constant in the CC Sabathia Sweepstakes: the Yankees are the highest — and only — bidder to date.
Not long after our Diane Firstman gave the skinny on the landscape’s analysis of the record offer made to the 6-foot-7, 290-pound southpaw, which included a quote from a Yankees official who welcomed the Mets’ inclusion in the mix, Newsday’s David Lennon reported that the Mets put the XX on CC. Joel Sherman wasn’t as definitive in this blog post, but he did not discount the Mets as a player, if for no other reason than to jack up the price for the Yankees.
What no one needs to see as it relates to CC Sabathia are stories like this. LeBron James is a Yankee fan. He’s friends with Sabathia, who until mid-summer spent his entire career in Cleveland. But do we, and should we, care what James has to say on this issue? In James’ defense, I believe this is more of an indictment of the Cleveland reporter who felt compelled to ask the question more than it is on James, who could face a similar free-agent dilemma next summer. James could opt out of the remaining two years of his contract in July and go to the highest bidder, which according to the aforementioned report, is expected to be either the Knicks or the New Jersey Nets. But if you’re the Cleveland scribe, why create a mess now? Haven’t those fans suffered for long enough? As a former reporter, I’m embarrassed. Maybe I’d have used that question as an icebreaker for an off-the-record situation, but that’s it. No way do you go to press with that.