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Jon Heyman keeps banging the Cliff Lee “mystery team” drum

Dec 13, 2010, 12:10 PM EDT

unsolved mysteries

This morning several baseball media heavyweights took public jabs as SI.com’s Jon Heyman over his repeatedly reporting on a supposed “mystery team” joining the Rangers and Yankees in the mix for Cliff Lee.

First there was Buster Olney of ESPN.com tweeting: “Remember: if you ever read about a ‘mystery team,’ it can only come spoon-fed from an agent who is trying to create leverage.”

Shortly after that Peter Gammons of MLB.com got in on the fun: “Mystery, Alaska in on Lee?”

And then Keith Law of ESPN.com tweeted: “Saw the Mystery Team GM at the winter meetings. He was wearing a Guy Fawkes mask.”

Heyman tried to brush off the criticisms by making a joke about the situation, tweeting that he was “grabbing lunch at MLB Network now” while using a #mysterysandwich hashtag, but shortly after that his latest column was posted at SI.com and it included more references to the supposed “mystery team” bidding on Lee.

In fact, Heyman used the phrase “mystery team” five times in the column (and even threw in a “mystery offer” for good measure):

1) “The Royals are eyeing the Lee talks with interest, as the Yankees could possibly consider Greinke if they should be upset for Lee by the incumbent Rangers or even a mystery team.”

2) “It isn’t known whether the Angels are the remaining mystery team in on Lee, but they at least checked in on him and could become a suitor for Greinke, too.”

3) “Lee is believed to be deciding between the Yankees, Rangers and one remaining mystery team, whose offer is also a mystery.”

4) “The Angels have shown interest in Lee. But one person familiar with their thinking claimed they are “offensively focused” at present, so they don’t appear to be the mystery team.”

5) “The Red Sox were found to be one of two mystery teams at the winter meetings but their signing of Crawford would seem to make them very unlikely now.”

It’s one thing when some lowly bloggers like Craig and I are picking on Heyman for the “mystery team” stuff, but when guys like Olney, Gammons, and Law join in you’d think he might ease up on that type of “reporting.” Instead he made a joke about it to lessen some of the criticism coming his way … and then immediately published a new column packed with “mystery team” references.

Heyman may indeed be right, but if he knows information he should report it rather than shrouding it in hysteria-inducing “mystery.” Given his frequent attempts to assuage people of the notion that he’s a shill for agents you’d think Heyman might have a little more awareness about how this stuff is perceived by readers and colleagues. Or maybe he just can’t help himself.

  1. Brian - Dec 13, 2010 at 12:49 PM

    Craig, what will you do if there actually is a mystery team and the Nationals sweep in and pay Lee $230 Trillion over 18 years?

    • Brian - Dec 13, 2010 at 12:49 PM

      I forgot about that club option for the 19th year and the $17billion signing bonus, plus the 40 virgins for winning the Cy Young.

    • Utley's Hair - Dec 13, 2010 at 1:20 PM

      (Aaron wrote this)

      Are the Gnats another as-yet mystery team or the mystery team to which Heyman is referring?

      I still hold that the mystery team is the Kingston Hey Mons from Jamaica.

  2. Jack Marshall - Dec 13, 2010 at 12:55 PM

    It’s not really funny, though, if Heyman is intentionally passing on lies to the public in support of an agents dishonest negotiating strategy. Why would SI tolerate that?

    • Conor_ProBallNW - Dec 13, 2010 at 7:15 PM

      Simple. It brings them page views, and lots of them.

  3. uyf1950 - Dec 13, 2010 at 1:00 PM

    The clearest indication that there is NO mystery team is that if there had actually been one someone would have identified that team by now. A full week since the winter meetings have ended and no “real” hint as to the mystery team is tells me there is no mystery team.

  4. rick1922 - Dec 13, 2010 at 1:06 PM

    It;s all BS there is no mystery team the Yankees are making a mistake offering Lee 7 years and 161 millon he’s not worth it.

  5. kcfanatic - Dec 13, 2010 at 1:25 PM

    I hope the mystery team is in the Japan League, and I hope he signs with him. I am so tired of Cliff Lee talks. I know its not his fault, his agent is just trying to get him the best deal, but come on already. You are getting over $100 million, that is enough that you don’t need to squabble about a few more bucks. You weigh between at least going to 2-4 more world series(possibly winning a couple) and enjoying where you live in terms of local, weather, population. You’ve been to both cities. Ask your wife what she thinks, and get a deal done. ATTENTION CLIFF LEE: This is becoming Favre like. Make a decision and let’s all move on.

    • Utley's Hair - Dec 13, 2010 at 1:32 PM

      I don’t think it’s Favre-like. I say it’s more Jeteresque, only somewhat less contentious—or even contemptuous.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Dec 13, 2010 at 1:40 PM

      I agree with your sentiment 100% here. I hate when negotiations get this obnoxious. He needs to make up his damn mind.

    • Joe - Dec 13, 2010 at 2:18 PM

      Question: If you were to receive a couple of hundred-million-dollar-plus job offers on a Thursday, would you not want to take the weekend to weigh your options? He’s deciding what to do with the next six or seven years of his life.

      Besides, it’s not like Cliff Lee or his agent are out in front of microphones making these announcements. Why are you mad at him?

    • gt929 - Dec 13, 2010 at 2:29 PM

      “You weigh between at least going to 2-4 more world series(possibly winning a couple) and enjoying where you live in terms of local, weather, population.”

      Yeah we all know the Rangers will never make it to the WS again, much less win one or two.

    • fquaye149 - Dec 13, 2010 at 5:35 PM

      “You weigh between at least going to 2-4 more world series(possibly winning a couple) and enjoying where you live in terms of local, weather, population.”

      The Yankees have exactly as many World Series appearances in the last 10 years as the Rangers.

      • christianduffy - Dec 13, 2010 at 5:43 PM

        You are wrong.

  6. lordd99 - Dec 13, 2010 at 1:30 PM

    Part of Heyman’s job is to have sources, and if one way if get access to information is to play up to the agents, then so be it. It doesn’t mean there’s not a mystery team. There probably is. The mystery team, however, most likely doesn’t have a serious enough offer to be considered. The issue is he’s pushing the mystery team too hard, so that does make it appear he is a shill for the agents.

    • professorperry - Dec 13, 2010 at 2:51 PM

      The thing is – if there’s some team offering 4 years, or 5 years, that’s not a mystery – it’s a waste of time.

      • lordd99 - Dec 13, 2010 at 3:23 PM

        Which makes thema true mystery team!

      • lordd99 - Dec 14, 2010 at 12:35 AM

        Well, as it turns out, Heyman was correct. There was a legitimate third team and it was for less years than the either the Yankees or the Rangers offered, and that team won. I think Aaron and Craig owe Jon an apology.

      • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Dec 14, 2010 at 1:02 PM

        Aaron and Craig don’t owe anyone jack squat, get off your soapbox. We had reason to doubt a mystery team, they blogged their professional opinions, and they were incorrect, which happens when you’re, you know, human.

        It’s not like they were being harsh and unprofessional to Heyman, there was no way to know for sure if there was a dark horse. Give ‘em a break.

      • lordd99 - Dec 15, 2010 at 3:14 AM

        Well MattStairsIs King, I didn’t have a problem with the questioning, I had a problem with how far it went, feeling Craig and Aaron both went off on their own soapbox. Craig did apologize today, and I thought his points on what part he was apologizing for and what part he wasn’t made perfect sense. No need for you to get so bent.

    • lessick - Dec 13, 2010 at 5:28 PM

      “Part of Heyman’s job is to have sources, and if one way if get access to information is to play up to the agents, then so be it. It doesn’t mean there’s not a mystery team. There probably is.”Well, if there is no mystery team, then he’s making up news, which is very problematic. If there is a mystery team that is only semi-serious, then let’s hear more–report the news. One reason not to reveal the team is that he’s helping the agent’s case, which is not ethical.

  7. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Dec 13, 2010 at 1:30 PM

    Quoting the mystery team’s owner, D B Cooper, “We have made a competitive offer for Lee. We expect him to be the cornerstone of our new NFL team in LA.”

  8. yankeesfanlen - Dec 13, 2010 at 1:31 PM

    When it is discovered that there is no mystery team, Heyman will cry 96 tears.

    • chrisdtx - Dec 13, 2010 at 1:40 PM

      ? and the Mysterians FTW

  9. Jonny 5 - Dec 13, 2010 at 1:48 PM

    Maybe this is one big joke on all of us? Compliments of Heyman. It would be pretty funny, because it is already imo.

  10. Brian - Dec 13, 2010 at 1:49 PM

    All this is really just a construct of the media. If Cliff Lee wants to take his time, let him…the media is just flipping out about it. Journalists and bloggers have verbal diarrhea and I’m pretty sure most of them believe that if they don’t spew “information” or contribute something for the masses to consume, then their heads will explode.

  11. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Dec 13, 2010 at 2:04 PM

    The sad part of it all, like telemarketers and SPAM, people would stop doing it if it ceased to be effective. One can only deduce that this strategy is effective in some way. If GMs could resist the urge to bid against themselves, and if millions of americans could resist the urge to read e-mail promising cheap V1AGR4, the behavior the rest of us find so aggrivating would stop.

  12. timhystad1 - Dec 13, 2010 at 2:09 PM

    It’s really amazing to me that so many of you seem to think that Cliff Lee is a bad guy for exercising his free agency rights. He has turned down extensions in Cleveland, Philadelphia, and wouldn’t even discuss it with Seattle or Texas. If you feel like he’s holding you hostage as a fan, I suggest that you take a deep breath, hold it in, keep holding it, keep holding it, keep holding it…. Tired yet? Now breathe. It’s not your choice, it’s his. Let him make it.

  13. r1galloway - Dec 13, 2010 at 2:41 PM

    I have it from reliable sources that Cliff Lee has already committed to the Rangers but is holding off on the announcement while the Rangers go after a few more players the Yanks want so to be 2 up on them. Stay tuned

  14. iranuke - Dec 13, 2010 at 3:07 PM

    My problem is the term “Mystery Team”. There are only 30 teams, no mystery there.

    • Utley's Hair - Dec 13, 2010 at 3:29 PM

      That’s it!!!! Maybe Bud Light needs to appoint a blue ribbon commission to figure out whether there are, in fact, more than 30 teams!!! (And then ignore the commission’s findings, do nothing about it, yadda, yadda, yadda…as per usual.)

  15. Utley's Hair - Dec 13, 2010 at 5:22 PM

    Aaron, are you equating yourself and your booger-eating cellar dwellar (or is it cellar-dwelling booger eater?) colleague Craig to actual journalists like Heyman? Wow…that takes cajones, man. You’d might as well start reporting on mystery fourth and fifth teams while you’re at it.

    • thinman61 - Dec 13, 2010 at 6:08 PM

      Hey, I would definitely put Craig and Aaron on a higher plane than Murray Chass. They have a way to go to catch up to Joe Posnanski though.

  16. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Dec 13, 2010 at 6:07 PM

    I’ll be darned. I would never have quessed Lee would be interested in playing for the Travelers! Like many I assumed Lee would want to play in the bigs. What to do they say? You can take the boy out of Arkansas, but you can’t take Arkansas out of the boy.

  17. skipperxc - Dec 14, 2010 at 12:18 AM

    And in retrospect…wow. Heyman was right. Who knew? One wonders why he couldn’t just SAY the team though…

  18. energized5kvbuzz - Dec 14, 2010 at 12:44 AM

    Ha ha ha ha. I created a account just so I could say that Aaron Gleeman sure put his foot in his mouth over this. If I was that dude I would be calling the IT staff right this second to take down this article and put anything else up in it’s place. This is just too funny.

  19. energized5kvbuzz - Dec 14, 2010 at 12:51 AM

    “It’s one thing when some lowly bloggers like Craig and I are picking on Heyman for the “mystery team” stuff, but when guys like Olney, Gammons, and Law join in you’d think he might ease up on that type of “reporting.” Instead he made a joke about it to lessen some of the criticism coming his way … and then immediately published a new column packed with “mystery team” references.”

    Wow where is that file shredder when you need it.

  20. mbarclift - Dec 14, 2010 at 12:58 PM

    Talk about egg on face – maybe some of these “lowly bloggers” or “guys like Olney, Gammons, and Law” should be printing retractions…

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