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Cliff Lee=LeBron James?

LeBron James: evil. Cliff Lee: lauded. Something isn’t making sense here.

We all (me included) got on James’ case for signing with the Miami Heat with the stated purpose of winning six, seven, eight, whatever, NBA titles with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh instead of staying in Cleveland and trying to build a winner around him the way Kobe Bryant has done and guys named Michael and Magic and Larry did before him.

So now when Cliff Lee pulls a LeBron and goes to the already-stacked pitching rotation of the Philadelphia Phillies saying he wants to be the #2 to Roy Halladay’s #1 … we praise him?

Granted, Lee’s move is not so not LeBron going to South Beach for innumerable reasons, chief among them – nothing against him, but Cliff Lee isn’t the LeBron James of baseball, if there is even such a player, and in the case of Lee, Cleveland (his first major-league team) left him, shipping him to Philly before being shipped in turn to Seattle and then Texas just in the past couple of years.

That said, what got to me the most about James, I guess since I’m not a Cleveland guy, wasn’t the lack of loyalty to the hometown as much as the move to dial down from head cheese to second banana. Isn’t that exactly what Lee is doing? Um, yeah, in his own words.

So … why no consternation, gnashing of teeth, et cetera, over Cliff, but all that and more with LeBron?

I can’t explain it, but I, too, like the move in this instance – Lee joining Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels to form the most formidable starting rotation since the Baltimore Orioles and L.A. Dodgers in the 1970s – and I still don’t like the move by LeBron.

Quick analysis: Maybe it’s the difference in the sports. Baseball has so many moving parts; basketball can really come down to a key guy and three or four guys in a supporting cast along with a couple of other role players. That and, again, Cliff Lee, love him for what he does, but he’s not baseball’s LeBron.

Even so … it’s interesting how we treated two otherwise very similar situations totally differently. To me, anyway.

Column by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at

augusta free press
augusta free press