Manny Ramirez About to Drive Joe Torre CrazyThe Red Sox traded Manny Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers this afternoon, and while this means plenty to the balance of power in the AL East, it means plenty more to our old pal Joe Torre.
Fans to Joe Torre: Did You Get a Haircut?’Joe Torre’s new look, Ashlee Simpson’s continued Saturday Night Live ban, and Rudy Giuliani’s black eye — read all about it in our daily roundup of the juice in New York’s gossip columns.
the sports section
Yankees’ New Monument Park Hints at Another Retired NumberWhen we first saw the photo of the new Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park last week, we were bummed to learn that not only had it been moved from its quirky home in left–center field, but that its new location would be a charmless spot underneath the restaurant, in the center-field batter’s eye. But after seeing the photo again on Curbed today, we noticed something much more uplifting.
the sports section
Hal Steinbrenner Calls His Dad ‘George’We’ve always thought it was kind of nice that Hal Steinbrenner, unlike his brother, Hank, keeps his mouth shut. He doesn’t talk himself into a tizzy, he doesn’t battle with the press, and he doesn’t even bluster when events call for it. But this week, he talked at length with GQ and explained a lot of what he has been thinking in a calm, non-obnoxious way. It’s a great interview. “I’m more introverted than extroverted, for sure, but I’m definitely not a recluse,” he told staff writer Nate Penn. “I can’t speak for Hank, but for me, I had my hands full. I didn’t have time to sit down like I am with you. I’m glad I’m doing it now.” Here are some of the highlights:
• On reports that he “hates” and “avidly disdains” the media: No truth to that. That was Bill Madden [of the Daily News]. Look, first of all, I don’t hate anybody. It’s a useless emotion. It accomplishes nothing.
• On whether he always expected to take over the Yankees: My dad would say, “Someday this is going to be yours. We’re counting on you; we’re counting on Hank. I’m not going to want to do this forever.” I don’t know [laughs] if that was true. George was very involved, and he loved it.
• On calling his father by his first name: That’s purely an office thing. I guess when you’re right out of college and working in the office, you don’t want to go around saying [puts on little-boy voice], “Well, Daddy said this. Daddy—” Throughout the course of fifteen years, I think it took on a life of its own here, but certainly not at home. [Steinbrenner adds the he doesn’t call his dad “George” to his face. “That would be completely disrespectful.”]
it just happened
It’s Time to Party for Joe Girardi!It looks like Fox broadcaster and former Yankees catcher Joe Girardi is going to be the next manager of the Yankees, according to ESPN.
“The Yankees have offered Joe the opportunity to become their next manager. Discussions are ongoing.” Steve Mandell, Girardi’s agent, said.
Girardi beat out Steinbrenner favorite Don Mattingly and Yankees coach Tony Pena for the contract — reportedly $6 million for three years — after a ten-hour interview in which he apparently charmed the pants off the Steinbrenner family. But not everyone thinks he’s so sweet. “There remain concerns about Girardi’s aggressive style of handling people,” George King and Joel Sherman of the Post wrote in an article that appears on the Fox News Website. “He isn’t afraid to bruise feelings.” Aw, did someone at News Corp., perhaps, get his feelings hurt?
Yanks Offer Job to Giardi [Fox]
Yanks Officially Offer Skipper Job to Giardi [ESPN]
the sports section
Joe Torre: ‘I’ve Been Pretty Damn Lucky’This was June in Chicago, at the end of a long, weird Yankees road trip that had started with A-Rod cavorting with a woman not his wife and ended with the team winning three in a row and finally showing some signs of life. Right in the middle of the turnaround had been Joe Torre — though, characteristically, we didn’t find out until much later just how much credit Torre deserved. We knew he’d called a team meeting in Toronto, but neither Torre nor any of the players would even hint at the tone or content; only when the season ended, after another disappointing first-round playoff exit, did word get out that Torre had ripped the team behind closed doors. It was rare for him to raise his voice; far more of his best work was done with pats on the back. But Torre always had a gift for what the moment required, and he never deployed it better than this season, when he kept the team battling and focused after a horrendous April and May.
it just happened
Breaking: Joe Torre Turns Down Yankees’ OfferJoe Torre has turned down an offer from the Yankees brass to return as manager next year, ESPN.com reports.
The Yankees offered Torre a one-year deal with a base salary of $5 million and incentives that would have increased his salary to $8 million based on postseason performance. Under that offer, if Torre reached the World Series in 2008, an option for 2009 would have vested.
Torre traveled to Tampa from New York on Thursday with general manager Brian Cashman and chief operating officer Lonn Trost. The manager was at Legends Field for about an hour and then left for the airport.
Team president Randy Levine said that the two sides were “working on it” and expected more meetings. Wow, we have no idea what to think! And we thought this was the first playoff season we weren’t going to spend all our time worrying about what was going on with the Yankees.
Torre Turns Down Offer to Return As Yanks’ Skipper [ESPN]
the sports section
Don Mattingly: Don’t Pick Me!Today’s the day the Steinbrenners get together in Florida with the rest of the Yankees brass to decide the fate of Joe Torre. What are they talking about? We have no idea. But according to the Newark Star-Ledger, one Steinbrenner boy was sent to the meeting with the following message: Don Mattingly doesn’t want to take Torre’s place. The bench coach is one of the names being bandied about to replace Torre if he gets the can, but many see him as too green to take on the role — including Mattingly himself. The popular former first-baseman thinks he’s “not ready” for the gig and would be “uncomfortable” in the role, reports the paper. So, yeah, we still have no idea what they’re debating down in Florida. Except maybe whether to root for the Indians.
Friend: Mattingly Says It’s Not Time [Newark Star-Ledger]
it happened this week
Mouthing OffA noose dangling from the door of an African-American Columbia professor’s office was the only thing that kept Yankees manager Joe Torre off the front pages this week. Rudy Giuliani pleaded with a capricious higher power — God, that is, not George Steinbrenner — to save his pin-striped pal’s job (he’d already said he’d appoint Torre to his Cabinet if given the chance). Mayor Bloomberg, displaying the tendency to be not totally insane that has set him apart from his predecessor time and again, merely remarked that “you can have great people and great coaching and it’s just not meant to be.”
in other news
Sportswriter Who Penned Steinbrenner Scoop SpeaksSo Joe Torre still has his job so far, and as we try to fathom what could possibly be going on in George Steinbrenner’s gargantuan head, Editor & Publisher’s interview with Ian O’Connor sheds a little light. O’Connor is the sportswriter for the Bergen Record who kept calling Steinbrenner at his New York home last weekend until the Yankees owner picked up and talked to him about the team. That’s when Steinbrenner dropped his bombshell about Torre, saying, “His job is on the line I think we’re paying him a lot of money. He’s the highest-paid manager in baseball, so I don’t think we’d take him back if we don’t win this series.” As Steinbrenner has avoided follow-up interviews with reporters, some have speculated about his health and whether he was thinking clearly when he gave the interview. But O’Connor says he’s confident the owner knew what he was saying.
Oprah’s Politics ClubOprah is throwing a $2,300-a-head fund-raiser for Barack Obama at her ranch in Montecito, California, and it’s sold out. Writer Robert Olen Butler’s wife, Elizabeth Dewberry, left him for Ted Turner, perhaps because Turner resembles the grandfather who once molested her. The Good Morning America intern who posed nude (for Playboy) is named Lace Rose Allenius, and she once dated Matt Dillon. Mayor Bloomberg, Donald Trump, Billy Crystal, and Joe Torre won a charity golf tourney by nine strokes. Uma Thurman is dating Elle Macpherson’s ex, Swiss banker Arky Busson. Lindsay Lohan’s bodyguard has received half-million-dollar offers to sell her out, but he won’t do it. Members of Usher’s camp maintain that fiancée Tameka Foster made up her “baby scare” so Usher would talk to her. Cindy Sheehan sang along to Cypress Hills’ “Fuck the Pigs” while drinking beer at a Randalls Island concert.
At Joe Torre Golf Benefit, Billy Crystal’s the StarThe Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation’s 2007 Golf Classic — an annual fund-raiser for the Yankee manager’s domestic- violence-awareness program — teed off at the Trump National Golf Club in Westchester this morning, and, well, it just seemed like a couple of guys getting together to shoot eighteen. Except that these guys are rich, famous, pretty powerful — oh, and were served a catered BBQ lunch at the sixth hole. Torre, Mayor Bloomberg, Donald Trump, and Billy Crystal made up the lead foursome, and, surprisingly, the comic was the best golfer. “I wasn’t a great athlete, and I’m just a terrible golfer,” Torre said before they got started. “Billy Crystal, believe it or not, will be the most serious golfer in the group.” (“Serious and good are two different things,” Crystal later clarified.) Bloomberg seemed to be pretty serious, too. “No mulligans, no gimmes, no laterals,” he said before they started. While we hoofed it down to the first tee, we were nearly run down by The Donald — shiny with sunscreen — driving his own cart. The foursome was bickering about who’d shoot first. “How about the mayor starts it off in honor of the city?” Trump suggested. So Bloomberg swung, then Torre, then Trump and Crystal. There were some oohs and ahhs at nice drives, and also some fist bumps. They were, after all, just a few guys playing golf. —Jocelyn Guest
the sports section
The Yanks’ Losing Season: How Can Fans Cope?
As the halfway mark passes — um: yay, American League! — the Yankees’ season is already over: They’re ten games behind the Red Sox and out of the wild-card race. They’ve run out of saviors. Unless the earth starts spinning backward, or someone fudges the math, or Steinbrenner discovers a way to fire the entire A.L. East, there will be no signature late-summer heroics, no storming back and humiliating the Red Sox, no sweeping the postseason awards. We are witnessing, at long last, the global-warming-ish collapse of the Torre dynasty — long predicted by doomsdayers, supported recently by airtight statistical trends, and now suddenly upon us.
This leaves Yankee fans in an unfamiliar position. How do we cope with an entirely meaningless second half of the season?
the morning line
Subway Worker Killed
• An MTA worked died yesterday after being hit by the G train at Hoyt-Schermerhorn, the second such incident in one week. His colleague is at Bellevue in stable condition. Worst train in the city. [MetroNY]
• The NYPD is using so-called “scarecrows” — unmanned cop cars — to spook drivers into obeying the speed limit on Belt Parkway, L.I.E., and elsewhere. A spokesman was quick to note that the practice is not related to the department’s short staffing. [NYDN]
• The Upper West Side’s Claremont Riding Academy, one of the oldest stables in the country, shut its doors Sunday. There were tears, from mothers more so than from daughters. [NYT]
• When we read the headline “New York City Bar Urges Bush Administration to Abandon Restrictions,” we were briefly awed by our drinking establishments’ political sway. But it was merely our lawyers lobbying the White House to stop placing blame at Guantánamo on, well, lawyers. [WHDH-TV]
• Joe Torre’s brother Frank, 75, is getting a kidney transplant tomorrow; he had a new heart put in eleven years ago. One of his daughters will be the donor. [NYP]
it just happened
Joe Won’t GoWell, so much for all that. Joe Torre has just announced at a Yankee Stadium press conference that he’ll be back for next season, his twelfth, according to ESPN.com.
So we’ll get to do this all again next year.
Torre Will Not Be Fired, Still Yankees Manager [ESPN.com]
Earlier: Steinbrenner’s Masterpiece Theatre
Plague of the Yankees
The signs, at first, were subtle. Moments after the final out found the back of the first-baseman’s glove in Detroit, eliminating the Yankees forever from the 2006 playoffs, meteorologists reported a slight dip in atmospheric pressure over the Eastern Seaboard. Old men across the Bronx sat up suddenly in bed, complaining of strange dreams and aching joints. Dogs across the city started to bark in shrill inexplicable waves. At 9 p.m., apparently realizing that the greatest offense in the history of human sport had been vanquished, the moon turned black and plunged into the sea. The Hudson River reversed its flow, ejecting Atlantic-bound eels and sharks and whales onto the West Side Highway, where they writhed and gnashed at each other in agony over yet another failed season.
the morning line
Bollards and Gribbles and Photogs, Oh, My!
• NYPD and DOT realize, after five years, that concrete bollards don’t actually protect us from terrorism. They do, however, teach us new words like “bollard.” [NYT]
• The Dolans really want to take Cablevision private. So much, in fact, that they’ll be happy to absorb $11.3 billion in debt (the company is valued at $7.9 billion). [WCBS]
• Yanks bask in the ultimate humiliation: throwing the postseason to the Tigers and getting outlasted by the Mets. Steinbrenner is likely to fire Torre and replace him with Lou Piniella. [WNBC]
• The city’s operas try to freshen up their crowd by offering $20 or $25 orchestra seats. Giving quotes like “We were all amazed that out of the woodwork these people came roaring up” does not help the populist cause. [NYT]
• In a textbook case of good news, bad news, cleaner water in the Hudson nurses back to life an array of disgusting critters like shipworms and gribbles. Bring back the pretty petroleum slicks! [IHT]
• And finally, city photojournalists, sounding surreally combative (“We are not a group to be trifled with”), demand rights to shoot in Port Authority facilities. Once you’ve seen the Christopher Street PATH station at dawn, you’ll understand. [AMNY]
[Ed. note: Apologies, by the way, for the late start. The Morning Line should post about two hours earlier than it did this morning, assuming in the future we can figure out how to use Movable Type.]