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Time for a reality check on Lee situation

The Yankees have increased their offer to 32-year-old

The Yankees have increased their offer to 32-year-old free agent pitcher Cliff Lee to seven years. Credit: MCT

Cliff Lee's silence has become a Rorschach test. It's whatever you want it to be.

(Thanks to Newsday colleague Erik Boland for that intellectual analogy. We now return to our regularly scheduled brand of mindlessness.)

Anyway, perhaps Lee will announce his decision to the baseball world today. I'm still betting on the Yankees but hardly sure of that. Really, at times like these, you're probably better off conceding what you don't know than grasping at straws.

Let's use our personal reality meter to test out some of the theories hopping around the yakosphere - a term Newsday colleague Neil Best created to properly capture the mix of opinion and fact found on the Internet, talk radio and everything else. The higher the reading, on a scale of 1 to 10, the more legitimate it sounds.

1. "If he wanted to pitch for the Yankees, he would have chosen them by now. After all, what's to contemplate about the highest offer?"

Eh. I remember hearing similar discussion two years ago regarding CC Sabathia and the Yankees, and last year with Jason Bay and the Mets. Sometimes people just take a long time to come to a conclusion. It is a pretty significant decision, after all.

Reality meter: 3

2. "He wants to pitch close to home."

Those 31/2 months in Texas must have been nice, with Arkansas just a short plane ride or long-ish drive away. The Lees say they won't be moving full-time away from their Arkansas home, unlike the Sabathias, who now reside year-round in New Jersey.

Yet in this age of owning shares in private planes, it isn't too difficult to occasionally sneak home to Texas from New York. Andy Pettitte has done so for many years, and Roger Clemens did the same thing during his two stays with the Yankees. And Arkansas is closer.

Reality meter: 5

3. "He just loved his time in Texas so much - his teammates, the ballpark, everything."

Sure sounds like it, yeah. However, Lee appears to be a guy who can take a step back and see the big picture.

Remember, he loved his time with the Phillies in 2009, but when they engaged him in discussions about a contract extension, those talks went nowhere. The crafty lefty already had his eyes on the price of free agency.

Reality meter: 5

4. "He's a small-town guy. He doesn't want to live in New York. His wife is still upset about the American League Championship Series incident with the nasty fans."

No shot. Lee probably will never win the Baseball Writers Association of America "Good Guy Award'' for going above and beyond in media relations, but the guy knows his way around a throng. He won't be fazed significantly by anything in New York.

Reality meter: 1

5. "He'll go for the very last dollar."

Many people who know him well think this, and it's not really an indictment. Most folks don't leave money on the table.

Reality meter: 7 

6. "For somebody of that stature, it would certainly behoove him to be a Yankee, which would probably be for the rest of his career."

OK, that's a direct quote from Hank Steinbrenner. Sure, pitching for the Yankees will vault him further into the spotlight, and probably into a fair number of postseason opportunities.

But let's acknowledge reality: A large contingent of fans would think less of Lee for joining the star-studded Yankees instead of sticking with the Rangers. Those two groups pretty much neutralize each other.

Reality meter: 2

7. "Lee has known where he's going since Friday. But he lost his voice, he's allergic to paper and he forgot to pay his family's electric bill, so the computers aren't working, either."

I made that up just now. What do you think?

Reality meter: 0.

(Although, if true, it would be a 10 on the entertainment meter.)

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