Take them out of the ballgame
October 13, 2007
New York Yankees fanatics cried themselves to sleep Monday night following yet another postseason Bombers meltdown. At the same time, supporters of the Cleveland Indians wept tears of joy as their team crushed the Yanks’ fantasy of their first World Series appearance since 2003.
Non-New Yorkers and baseball misanthropes shared in the Indians’ delight. Not because of a pinstripe prejudice, but eliminating the Yankees from the stadium means that the headlines out of the Bronx will be less cluttered with batting statistics, allowing for the more salacious stories that inevitably come out of The House That Ruth Built to rise to prominence. Make no mistake ” the Evil Empire churns out some wickedly delicious tales that rival the best made-for-TV movies on Lifetime.
The drama begins at the top. Team owner George Steinbrenner is unmistakably the “Godfather” figure. (Not to mention he actually bares a slight resemblance to Marlon Brando, albeit circa 1990’s “The Freshman.”) The only difference between Mario Puzo’s “Godfather” character and Steinbrenner is that Steinbrenner needs no henchmen to do his dirtiest work for him.
Despite some chatter of late that the boss has lost his edge, he came out with his teeth and claws freshly sharpened last week, declaring to the press that he planned to retire manager Joe Torre from the Bronx if the team didn’t advance from the first-round series with Cleveland. Nevermind that it’s considered bad form to make that kind of pronouncement prior to the opening pitch of a big game. This is coming from the same man who also (unsuccessfully) threatened the livelihood of an umpire who failed to call a game on account of gnats.
And even though prior to this month he’s kept (or been kept) away from the press for some time, Steinbrenner can’t help but keep his name out of the papers. Last winter, his daughter filed for divorce after 23 years of marriage to the man tapped by Steinbrenner to be his successor as the head of the Yankees. It’s the same son-in-law who weeks earlier made a splash after he was arrested for driving under the influence.
Torre can probably sympathize how particularly unpleasant it is being on the bad side of the boss, although at least he has his own groupies. Not only did former and current New York mayors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg come out in support of the limboed manager this week, but Giuliani even went so far as to tell Time magazine’s editor-at-large in his soon-to-be released book that if he’s elected president, Torre will be his only slam-dunk cabinet appointment.
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Of course, no nonbaseball Yankee story is ever complete without mentioning the sugar on the Yankees’ top, the icing on its cake, the apple of its eye ” heartthrob pin-up hunk Derek Jeter.
When not starring in commercials for Gatorade, Visa, Propel Fitness Water and Skippy, or promoting his cologne (a fragrance that blends the aroma of chilled grapefruit, clean oak moss and spice), shave gel, shave balm, body wash, body spray and antiperspirant, the eight-time All-Star shortstop has been known to squire around town some of the world’s most beautiful woman. In recent days, he’s been seen with “Bring It On” actress Gabrielle Union.
Not to be outshone, there’s also third baseman Alex Rodriguez, whose life on and off third base more closely resembles a juicy session in one of MTV’s “Real World” confession booths than a Hall of Fame preamble.
On Thursday, he was spotted lunching with his agent at one of Manhattan’s see-and-be-seen eateries, Nello. They were breaking bread two days after his agent hinted Rodriguez might opt out of his final three contracted years as a Yankee to pursue Barry Bonds’ home-run record elsewhere.
That news came five days after A-Rod’s better half divulged some news of her own. Perhaps determined not to let her husband steal all the tabloid glory, Cynthia Rodriguez revealed she is expecting the couple’s second child.
Her pregnancy popped up just a few months after an announcement of another sort. In early July, Cynthia generated a headline or two when she wore a skin-tight white tanktop emblazoned with, “F— you.” In Yankee Stadium. During a game. With the couple’s 2-year-old daughter at her side.
The tank top read-around-the-world incident was a little more than a month after the soon-to-be AL MVP was spotted everywhere from Tampa to Toronto with a busty blond Playboy Bunny reject turned exotic dancer. Who wasn’t his wife.
Just a few months before that, A-Rod penned a children’s book, “Out of the Ballpark.”
The upside for New Yorkers and Yankee fans still feeling the agony of defeat? So many of these stories will inevitably play out through the autumn and winter, which should make time fly until spring training.
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