Saturday, October 20, 2007
Orange County Register
On Thursday, Congress attempted to override President Bush's veto of the SCHIP expansion. SCHIP? Isn't that something to do with health care for children? Absolutely. And here is Bay Area Democratic Rep. Pete Stark addressing the issue with his customary forensic incisiveness:
"The Republicans are worried that they can't pay for insuring an additional 10 million children. They sure don't care about finding $200 billion to fight the illegal war in Iraq. Where are you going to get that money? Are you going to tell us lies like you're telling us today? Is that how you're going to fund the war? You don't have money to fund the war on children, but you're going to spend it to blow up innocent people? If he can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the president's amusement."
I'm not sure I follow the argument here: President Bush wants to breed a generation of sickly uninsured children in order to send them to Iraq to stagger round the Sunni Triangle, weak and spindly and emaciated and rickets-stricken, to get their heads blown off? Is that the gist of it? No matter, Congressman Stark hit all the buzz words – "children," "illegal war," "$200 billion," "lies," etc. – and these days they're pretty much like modular furniture: You can say 'em in any order, and you'll still get a cheer from the crowd.
Congressman Stark is unlikely ever to be confused with Gen. Stark, who gave New Hampshire its stirring motto, "Live free or die!" In the congressman's case, the choice appears to be: "Live free on government health care or die in Bush's illegal war!" Nevertheless, in amongst the autopilot hooey the Stark raving madman did use an interesting expression: "the war on children."
One assumes he means some illegal Republican Party "war on children." Last Thursday, Nancy Pelosi, as is the fashion, used the phrase "the children" like some twitchy verbal tic, a kind of Democrat Tourette's syndrome: "This is a discussion about America's children … We could establish ourselves as the children's Congress … Come forward on behalf of the children ... I tried to do that when I was sworn in as speaker surrounded by children. It was a spontaneous moment, but it was one that was clear in its message: we are gaveling this House to order on behalf of the children."
Etc. So what is the best thing America could do "for the children"? Well, it could try not to make the same mistake as most of the rest of the Western world and avoid bequeathing the next generation a system of unsustainable entitlements that turns the entire nation into a giant Ponzi scheme. Most of us understand, for example, that Social Security needs to be "fixed" – or we'll have to raise taxes, or the retirement age, or cut benefits, etc. But, just to get the entitlements debate in perspective, projected public pensions liabilities in the United States are expected to rise by 2040 to about 6.8 percent of our gross domestic product. In Greece, the equivalent figure is 25 percent – that's not a matter of raising taxes or tweaking retirement age; that's total societal collapse.
So what? shrug the voters. Not my problem. I paid my taxes, I want my benefits.
In France, President Sarkozy is proposing a very modest step – that those who retire before the age of 65 should not receive free health care – and the French are up in arms about it. He's being angrily denounced by 53-year-old retirees, a demographic hitherto unknown to functioning societies. You spend your first 25 years being educated, you work for two or three decades, and then you spend a third of a century living off a lavish pension, with the state picking up every health care expense. No society can make that math add up.
And so, in a democratic system today's electors vote to keep the government gravy coming and leave it to tomorrow for "the children" to worry about. That's the real "war on children" – and every time you add a new entitlement to the budget you make it less and less likely they'll win it.
A couple of weeks ago, the Democrats put up a 12-year-old SCHIP beneficiary from Baltimore, Graeme Frost, to deliver their official response to the President's Saturday-morning radio address. And immediately afterwards Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Malkin and I jumped the sick kid in a dark alley and beat him to a pulp. Or so you'd have thought from the press coverage: The Washington Post called us "meanies." Well, no doubt it's true we hard-hearted conservatives can't muster the civilized level of discourse of Pete Stark. But we were trying to make a point – not about the kid, but about the family, and their relevance as a poster child for expanded government health care. Mr. and Mrs. Frost say their income's about $45,000 a year – she works "part-time" as a medical receptionist, and he works "intermittently" as a self-employed woodworker. They have a 3,000-square-foot home plus a second commercial property with a combined value of over $400,000, and three vehicles – a new Chevy Suburban, a Volvo SUV, and a Ford F-250 pickup.
How they make that arithmetic add up is between them and their accountant. But here's the point: The Frosts are not emblematic of the health care needs of America so much as they are of the delusion of the broader Western world. They expect to be able to work "part-time" and "intermittently" but own two properties and three premium vehicles and have the state pick up health care costs. Who do you stick with the bill? Four-car owners? Much of France already lives that way: A healthy, wealthy, well-educated populace works a mandatory maximum 35-hour week with six weeks of paid vacation and retirement at 55 and with the government funding all the core responsibilities of adult life.
I'm in favor of tax credits for child health care, and Health Savings Accounts for adults, and any other reform that emphasizes the citizen's responsibility to himself and his dependants. But middle-class entitlement creep would be wrong even if was affordable, even if Bill Gates wrote a check to cover it every month: it turns free-born citizens into enervated wards of the Nanny State. As Gerald Ford likes to say when trying to ingratiate himself with conservative audiences, "A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have." But there's an intermediate stage: A government big enough to give you everything you want isn't big enough to get you to give any of it back. As I point out in my book, nothing makes a citizen more selfish than socially equitable communitarianism: Once a fellow's enjoying the fruits of Euro-style entitlements, he couldn't give a hoot about the general societal interest; he's got his, and who cares if it's going to bankrupt the state a generation hence?
That's the real "war on children": in Europe, it's killing their future. Don't make the same mistake here.
FOXSports.com, Updated 13 hours ago
You get one NFL Truth today. Watching Chad Johnson and Larry Johnson undermine their respective head coaches, Marvin Lewis and Herm Edwards, on Sunday gave me a singular focus, forced me to contemplate an uncomfortable truth.
African-American football players caught up in the rebellion and buffoonery of hip hop culture have given NFL owners and coaches a justifiable reason to whiten their rosters. That will be the legacy left by Chad, Larry and Tank Johnson, Pacman Jones, Terrell Owens, Michael Vick and all the other football bojanglers.
In terms of opportunity for American-born black athletes, they're going to leave the game in far worse shape than they found it.
It's already starting to happen. A little-publicized fact is that the Colts and the Patriots — the league's model franchises — are two of the whitest teams in the NFL. If you count rookie receiver Anthony Gonzalez, the Colts opened the season with an NFL-high 24 white players on their 53-man roster. Toss in linebacker Naivote Taulawakeiaho "Freddie" Keiaho and 47 percent of Tony Dungy's defending Super Bowl-champion roster is non-African-American. Bill Belichick's Patriots are nearly as white, boasting a 23-man non-African-American roster, counting linebacker Tiaina "Junior" Seau and backup quarterback Matt Gutierrez.
Chad Johnson's hip hop attitude is giving black athletes in the NFL a bad name. (Chris Graythen / Getty Images)
For some reason, these facts are being ignored by the mainstream media. Could you imagine what would be written and discussed by the media if the Yankees and the Red Sox were chasing World Series titles with 11 African-Americans on their 25-man rosters (45 percent)?
We would be inundated with information and analysis on the social significance. Well, trust me, what is happening with the roster of the Patriots and the Colts and with Roger Goodell's disciplinary crackdown are all socially significant.
Hip hop athletes are being rejected because they're not good for business and, most important, because they don't contribute to a consistent winning environment. Herm Edwards said it best: You play to win the game.
I'm sure when we look up 10 years from now and 50 percent — rather than 70 percent — of NFL rosters are African-American, some Al Sharpton wannabe is going to blame the decline on a white-racist plot.
That bogus charge will ignore our role in our football demise. We are in the process of mishandling the opportunity and freedom earned for us by Jim Brown, Walter Payton, Doug Williams, Mike Singletary, Gale Sayers, Willie Lanier and countless others. And those of us in the media who have rationalized, minimized and racialized every misstep by Vick, Pacman and T.O. have played an equal role in blowing it.
By failing to confront and annihilate the abhorrent cultural norms we have allowed to grab our youth, we have in the grand American scheme sentenced many of them to hell on earth (incarceration), and in the sports/entertainment world we've left them to define us as unreliable, selfish and buffoonish.
I take you to Arrowhead Stadium this past Sunday when two competent and respected black head coaches led the Chiefs and the Bengals in battle, and their efforts were periodically sabotaged by Chad and Larry Johnson, the two players Lewis and Edwards have defended the most.
Football fans are aware of Lewis' love affair with Chad Johnson, the Flavor Flav of the gridiron. Johnson's insistence on conducting a minstrel show during games has long been reluctantly tolerated by Lewis. Johnson, I guess, is just too talented, productive and well-compensated for Lewis to discipline. So Lewis has chosen to enable, going as far as making excuses when Johnson's selfish behavior extended to an alleged locker-room shoving match with coaches (including a swing at Lewis) at halftime of the Bengals' Jan. 8, 2006 playoff loss to the Steelers.
Coming off an 11-5 regular season and having been crowned the toast of Cincinnati, Lewis responded to that Johnson meltdown by vowing to cut the player who leaked the fight information to the media.
Since then, the Bengals have been one of the league's biggest disappointments, finishing 8-8 last season and starting 1-4 this season. Injuries have played a significant role in Cincy's troubles, but so has a lack of on- and off-field discipline and focus. Lewis' coddling of Chad Johnson has destroyed the chemistry that made the Bengals a playoff team in 2005.
On Sunday, with the Bengals trying to rally out of a two-score deficit, Johnson failed to finish a pass route, which contributed to Carson Palmer throwing an interception.
Not to be outdone, Larry Johnson continued his season-long pattern of immature behavior, spiking the football in frustration with 4 minutes to play and the Chiefs attempting to run out the clock. The Bengals were out of timeouts and the spike stopped the clock, giving Cincy one last chance to make a comeback.
Pacman Jones' off-field legal troubles are indicative of a larger cultural problem. (Brian Bahr / Getty Images)
Johnson, despite receiving a new $45-million contract, has brooded, pouted and complained all season. He spent the off-season promising to be a leader and has spent the first six weeks of the season spreading locker-room cancer. Edwards-coached teams have traditionally been the least-penalized squads in the NFL. This year's Chiefs are one of the most-penalized squads. Nickel back Benny Sapp drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Sunday, had to be dragged off the field by Donnie Edwards, and was spotted on the sideline arguing with players and coaches.
Race is not the determining factor when it comes to having a good or bad attitude. Culture is.
Hip hop is the dominant culture for black youth. In general, music, especially hip hop music, is rebellious for no good reason other than to make money. Rappers and rockers are not trying to fix problems. They create problems for attention.
That philosophy, attitude and behavior go against everything football coaches stand for. They're in a constant battle to squash rebellion, dissent and second opinions from their players.
You know why Muhammad Ali is/was an icon? Because he rebelled against something meaningful and because he excelled in an individual sport. His rebellion didn't interfere with winning. Jim Brown, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, etc. rebelled with dignity and purpose.
What we're witnessing today are purposeless, selfish acts of buffoonery. Sensible people have grown tired of it. Football people are recognizing it doesn't contribute to a winning environment.
Whether calculated or not, the Patriots and the Colts have created settings in which Brady and Manning can lead and feel comfortable. I remember back in the 1980s when some black sports fans accused the Celtics of being racist for having a predominantly-white roster when Larry Bird was the star. No one remembered that Red Auerbach occasionally fielded an all-black starting lineup during Bill Russell's heyday.
My point is that it makes sense to cater to your stars. And it makes even more sense to fill your roster with players who don't mind being led, even if you sacrifice a little 40-yard dash speed.
If things don't change quickly, we're going to learn this lesson the hard way.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
October 8, 2007: Torre can't watch as the Yankees are eliminated by the Indians in what turns out to be his last game as manager.
RYE BROOK, N.Y. -- The conversation between Joe Torre and Yogi Berra occurred in midsummer 2007, sprinkled mostly with baseball-related small talk. Suddenly the Yankee manager asked the Yankee legend a telling question.
"How long were you gone?" Torre wanted to know.
"Fourteen years," Berra said. Fourteen long summers, starting in 1985, without speaking to George Steinbrenner or even setting foot in Yankee Stadium. It was the greatest cold war in franchise history, waged by Yogi after The Boss gracelessly fired him 16 games into the season. Berra not only won, he forced Steinbrenner to ask for his forgiveness, a lesson that Torre filed away for future reference.
"Fourteen years," Torre said, shaking his head. "Just wait, I'll beat that."
It was supposed to be a joke – the Yankees were playing .700 ball and Torre was beyond the clutches of the front office's second-guessers. But all that changed this week, when the Yankees shoved Torre out the door. A new manager will soon be hired, and the Yankees will trumpet the dawn of a new era, full of phony praise for a man who's never sat in Torre's seat. But the new age comes at a steep price: Torre is about to start his own freeze-out of the Steinbrenner family.
He said as much in Friday's news conference at the Hilton Rye Town, a 70-minute exercise in understated grace and restraint. Torre never lost his temper, but he nevertheless got his message across, saying the one-year offer was an "insult" and that he had "no choice" but to walk away from the room full of businessmen who have no idea how the baseball world really works.
Later, on WFAN-AM, Torre all but accused the Yankee hierarchy of being liars, saying "it would've been more honest" had he been fired outright without the charade of a new contract.
That sets the stage for Torre's revenge. When someone asked how he envisions his future role – as ambassador to the new Stadium, perhaps, or the star of a future Old-Timers' Day event – Torre's expression went dead-cold. He said, "I'm not ready to comment on that." It was the equivalent of Joe Cool telling George, Hank and Hal Steinbrenner: This isn't over. Not by a long shot.
Torre knows he can hurt the Yankees by pulling a Yogi, refusing to show up at the ballpark for however long it takes the club to realize its mistake. That means no Old-Timers' Day, no first-pitch ceremonies, no Joe Torre Day, at least not for a while, anyway. The Bombers prattled on and on about Torre's integrity, even on his way out, but they're about to find out how badly they mishandled this coup. All the Yankees had to do was show Torre a little respect. Cut his pay, if they really had to, but they should've given him a second year's guarantee and another 10-year personal services contract after his retirement, allowing Torre to act as the franchise's greeter, spokesman and guru.
That way, Torre could've been around to help Don Mattingly in his first year on the job. He could've spent a few innings a week in the YES booth. He could've simply hung around the ballpark, sharing his immense good karma. Instead, Torre will box out the Yankees the way Yogi did. He'll prove he can hold a grudge and not let the family up for air. Not after the way they treated him in Tampa on Thursday afternoon.
To a packed news conference, Torre recounted just how icily he was received by the corporation. He was told of the stripped-down offer by Hal Steinbrenner, at which point Torre reminded the brain trust that he'd taken the Bombers to the postseason for 12 years -- a feat unmatched by any other manager in the big leagues. He stressed that the postseason is a merciless crapshoot, and to cement that point, he reminded them that of the eight qualifiers in the 2006 postseason, only one team, the Yankees, made it back in 2007.
What was ownership's response?
Oh, there was some throat-clearing excuse about wanting to move in a new direction, and that an incentive-based contract was their way of motivating Torre. He knew, right there, he was finished with the Yankees. There would be no changing the Steinbrenners' position. No creative negotiating, no budging. It was take it or leave it for a man who'd given the Yankees a human side for more than a decade. Take it or leave it. Torre got up and walked away.
So now he goes home to a new life – although Torre isn't sure where that path will take him. For the short term, it means quiet dinners with his wife Ali, nights at home with his daughter Andrea, the annual trip to Hawaii without having to rush back to spring training. Torre's world will be filled with peace, at least until the phone rings again. Somewhere in the baseball universe, there's another job waiting for him, whether it's managing again or in the broadcast booth.
One way or another, the world will see plenty of Torre's next act. But not the Steinbrenners. It'll be a while before they see Torre's face again. Don't bet against Joe Cool in this coming standoff. Nice guy on the outside, he's tougher than the Yankees ever knew.
* * *
The former manager has his say
On walking away:
"If somebody wanted me to manage here, I would be managing here."
On contract incentives:
"I had been there 12 years and I didn't think motivation was needed."
On the future:
"I'm free to listen right now. I don't expect other ballclubs to pay me what the Yankees paid me."
On returning to the Stadium:
"I'm really not prepared to comment on that."
Saturday, October 20th 2007, 4:00 AM
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According to the message board just off the lobby of the Hilton Rye Town yesterday, the Latina Leadership Symposium was to your left, arrows pointing you toward ballrooms A and B and C.
There was no arrow pointing you toward the Yankees, at this hotel maybe half an hour from Yankee Stadium. But the Yankees were here all right, because Joe Torre was here.
The Yankees were just around the corner, past the desk where the women were checking in media members, through a door and past tables set up with ice and soft drinks and cookies, in the Hilton's Grand Ballroom, the one filling up fast for Torre.
This is how things work out sometimes. Torre became one of the biggest guys in town because of the way he managed the Yankees for 12 years. Now because of the way he leaves them, if he is leaving them for good, he is bigger than ever.
Once Torre, who had been fired three times as a manager before he got to Yankee Stadium, needed the Yankees. Now the whole town and the whole world think the Yankees need him much more, even after another first-round loss.
"You gotta be kidding," Torre said when he came through a side door and saw the crowd for him, a little bit after two o'clock.
Then Torre sat down and looked at some notes and started talking, his voice thick with emotion. The first thing he did was thank George Steinbrenner "for trusting me with his club for the last 12 years."
And the more Joe Torre talked at the Hilton Rye Town, and he talked for more than an hour, the more you saw and heard something important, not just about him, we know all about him by now, but about the Yankees. You understood that if the Steinbrenners don't change their mind this weekend or next week, if they don't reach out to Torre one last time and try to make this right, that this wasn't just the end of one era yesterday, it was the end of a lot of them.
If this sticks, it was the end of Torre's Yankees and everything they have meant and everything they have been. And it was the end of George Steinbrenner's Yankees, just because nobody will ever believe he is really calling the shots there ever again.
It was the end of all that. It's almost as if Torre and Steinbrenner leave the Yankees together.
The Yankees will win again someday, maybe as soon as next season, with another manager.
There is still too much talent around and too much money to spend, and everybody can see they have a farm system again, and young arms. So this wasn't the end of the Yankees. Just the end of what they have been under Torre.
It wasn't all him, because it's never just the manager or coach in sports, and if you don't believe that, ask Phil Jackson how much of a genius he was with the Albany Patroons before he got with Michael Jordan.
It is still a fact that the Yankees became more important and more profitable during Torre's years managing them than at any other time in the history of the team. And made their fans more passionate and more present for them than at any other time in their history.
"You can feel (the fans' heartbeat)," Torre said at one point yesterday.
It was something he has said before, a wonderful description of the relationship between the team and the city, and between the city and this manager.
It doesn't mean he was a perfect manager. There aren't any of those. It doesn't mean that because of what Torre did in those first five years in town that nobody was ever allowed to think about getting rid of him when the Yankees started losing in the first round. Even now, it is as if somebody else managed the team this season until they were 14-1/2 behind the Red Sox and then Torre came back. Then left again right before the Indians series.
But the Steinbrenners would have been better off just firing him instead of doing it this way, asking him to take that pay cut, even with the incentives, in the Year of the Rocket. Think about it. One of the reasons Torre goes is because of a sum of money that works out to two Roger Clemens starts.
Take all the time they took and then present this kind of humpty-dumpty offer to Torre? The people in charge of the Yankees now don't just lose Torre at that point, they lose anybody prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt, even two Steinbrenner sons I thought were in a bad spot.
It would have been one thing to fire Torre last season, clean, with somebody like Lou Piniella standing there, a replacement for Torre who wouldn't have required a search committee. Just don't do it like this.
There was Torre talking about those incentive clauses they wanted to put in his new contract and saying, "I took it as an insult."
"It was the way it was offered," he said.
Do it like this, a $200 million team trying to cut the manager's salary by $2-1/2 million, and no Steinbrenner, father or sons, can be surprised about what is happening. Somehow, after three first-round losses in a row and four in six years, the Yankees make such a mess of things that their customers want to start building Joe Torre a monument right now.
Those same people watch the way Torre goes out and probably wonder how it will end for Jeter someday.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Posted: Thursday October 18, 2007 7:01PM; Updated: Friday October 19, 2007 12:10PM
Yankees president Randy Levine offered a pathetic glimpse of life after George.
Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images
CLEVELAND -- When he was robust and running the New York Yankees, George Steinbrenner never minded a little blood on his hands. He swung his firing axe decisively and often. I was there in Chicago at old Comiskey Park when Dale Berra cried into his dirty sanitary sock when Steinbrenner fired his father, Yogi, only 16 games into the 1985 season. Steinbrenner was rash, but he took the heat for it.
Cruel? Maybe. But on Thursday, the New York Yankees, with Steinbrenner's health rendering him little more than a figurehead, descended into a far darker and disrespectful place. Under the leadership of president Randy Levine, who commandered the news conference yesterday as if general manager Brian Cashman and Steinbrenner's two sons, Hank and Hal, didn't exist, the Yankees let corporate cowardice be their guide. This is a peek at life after George.
Levine's Yankees are proud of themselves today because they think they ran Joe Torre out of New York without getting blood on their hands. They think you are dumb enough to believe that Torre was not fired, that they really, really wanted him back, but that, golly gee, Torre turned down their offer.
But there is blood everywhere on Levine and the boys, remnants of a sloppiness and covertness the Boss never knew. They spent three days crafting a contract offer they thought would strike just the right balance: just good enough for public relations purposes, but insulting enough that no man of Torre's pride and accomplishments would ever accept. Torre is the most successful manager in modern baseball history. He has delivered the Yankees to 12 consecutive postseasons. The next longest active streak by a franchise? That would be one. His Yankees crashed out of the first round of the postseason this year because a swarm of bugs attacked a rookie pitcher and the winningest pitcher of the past two seasons threw a total of 5 2/3 innings in two starts in the American League Division Series. Such episodes defined the unpredictable nature of postseason play.
So here is how Levine & Co. treated the Hall of Fame bound manager: they offered to cut his pay by 23 percent -- so insulting that the players' association has rules against such a huge cut for its members -- to bring him back only for one year (which keeps their sniping of a lame-duck manager in play) and to throw in "performance bonuses" (which are unprecedented even for the least accomplished managers) based on a postseason model any baseball observer with the least bit of sense understands is more random than controllable.
Celebrating the 1998 World Series Championship
One year? Goodness, Charlie Manuel, Joe Maddon and Ozzie Guillen were given multiyear contract extensions! No manager of Torre's resume or dignity would have accepted those conditions and Levine, who wanted Torre out for years, knew it. It was not the money; Torre doesn't need it. It was knowing that your employers don't want you, knowing that if another season began 21-29, as this season did, the snipers and leakers would be firing away with impunity. How could he ask respect from his players when his bosses did not respect him?
Torre spent hardly an hour in Tampa yesterday with the Yankee brass. Does anyone regard that as real negotiating, a good-faith effort to bring him back? And Torre came to Tampa on his own accord, implying that the Yankees were prepared to low-ball him by telephone. Classy. And did Cashman, as he told reporters, really share a plane ride with Torre from New York to Tampa and, despite all the time and success they shared, not warn him of the ambush waiting for him at Legends Field with specifics of the contract?
If the Yankees wanted to fire Torre, they should have just fired him after the ALDS, laying responsibility on him for a "failure" to get to the World Series seven straight years. It was the way of George. It was certainly their right. You could argue that Torre didn't deserve it, but you had to respect the dictatorial right of Steinbrenner, even as the Yankees cling to this "World-Series-or-bust" mentality that has long been rendered obsolete in the revenue-sharing age. Instead, under Levine, they took the cowardly way out and think they are slick enough that you won't notice.
It was interesting to hear Levine assume command on the conference call. Hank, except for a lame football analogy ("I'm sure if you asked Vince Lombardi ...,'' he said), and Hal, who briefly showed an ability to decisively say nothing, were eclipsed by Levine's bluster. Were the sons not taking command from their father? Is this not their inheritance, their responsibility? And wasn't this the first major policy decision in which they were supposedly taking daily control? So, too, was Cashman diminished. As one veteran GM told me last week, "If Brian has it written into his contract that he has authority on all baseball operations decisions, where has he been? Why hasn't he said anything about Torre?" It's apparent now that in his heart Cashman didn't really want Torre back, a sea change from where he was in May, when as the heat grew on Torre from that slow start, Cashman told Steinbrenner, "It's not Joe's fault. If you want to fire anybody, fire me!"
Cashman has fancied himself a Billy Beane-Theo Epstein wanna-be, an intellectual GM known for running an efficient system, especially when it comes to player development, rather than just a guy who writes checks. He has traded veterans for prospects, embraced sabermetrics and surrounded himself with young number-crunchers who get jazzed about PlayStation tournaments. The more he has put his self-worth in the image of cutting-edge GM the less Torre and his old-school ways became relevant.
"There may be some surprising names that show up," Cashman said about the search for Torre's successor. Sure, Cashman would love to go all cutting-edge on the Yankees and get somebody young and unknown like Trey Hillman, the former Yankees minor league manager who is now in Japan. But would the Steinbrenners and Levine dare let Cashman replace Torre with a no-name? And if they thrust Don Mattingly, who is a nice guy and a "true Yankee" but hardly sabermetric-friendly, on Cashman, how much further is Cashman diminished? We've already heard Hank tell us that he personally insists that Joba Chamberlain start next season. Are these Cashman's baseball operations any more?
Whatever happens, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada just earned themselves a boatload more money. Do you really think Levine's Yankees are going to let Rivera and Posada leave town, too? They need to sign them more than ever. This day is the official end of an era for the Yankees. The Torre era -- four world championships and six pennants in 12 years -- is over, with Torre taking with him the same dignity he brought to the job and the franchise. He didn't want the job under these conditions. What does that say about these Yankees?
ESPN The Magazine
Updated: October 18, 2007
Joe Torre never spent hours poring over statistics or videotape like a lot of young managers do these days. He wasn't a workaholic type who obsessed about getting to work earlier than his peers. He would have a nice lunch, and then he would shave cleanly after games -- wins or losses -- as he prepared for a late dinner at a restaurant.
It has never been his style to simmer in the aftermath of success or failure, after all. In an era when managers seem to put in more hours than first-year lawyers or hospital residents, Torre might've put in the fewest office hours of any manager in the game.
But Torre could delve deeper into the heart of his clubhouse in a 30-second conversation with a player than some managers can in a whole season. He could make the intense Paul O'Neill laugh dolefully at himself, or ask David Cone or Mike Mussina for a suggestion, or stop a slumping youngster at his door with a shout: Hey, kid, how you doing? When Scott Brosius went to him, late in the season in 1999, and told him that he needed to go see his dying father, Torre did not hem or haw or hesitate or fret about violating a century of old-school baseball protocol. Rather, he told Brosius to go home, to be with his dad.
When he removed 45-year-old Roger Clemens in the third inning of Game 3 of the Division Series with a fatherly pat on the cheek, it was not the gesture of a manager commiserating with a star who had had a bad night. It was Torre acknowledging, for Clemens' sake, that he knows that Clemens tried, that he knows that for six seasons, Clemens always tried, always cared. Torre's voice cracked when he spoke late Monday night, but not referring to his own situation -- he seemed resigned to his fate -- but when he mentioned his Yankees' effort and their passion.
He was not above playing favorites, of course, and some players felt the dark glower of his stare. He wasn't a Pollyanna who liked everybody no matter what. He didn't care for David Wells, or Jeff Nelson, and some of his relievers felt he mistreated them with the workload he foisted upon them. He hung out outfielder Chad Curtis publicly during the 1999 World Series, after Curtis refused to talk with NBC reporter Jim Gray, and even after teammates exonerated Curtis and told Torre that the outfielder had done what they all had agreed to do, Torre never set the record straight. On the other hand, Torre vehemently defended Clemens after the bat-throwing incident in the 2000 World Series, in a way that he did not defend Curtis.
But mostly, his players, including Curtis, sensed that he cared deeply about them as people, and was never a fairweather manager who took their slumps as personal affronts, like many managers and coaches tend to do. He treated them like men.
Torre brilliantly managed George Steinbrenner and the New York media in the same way: He recognized the implicit threat that each force represented, and while he understood that neither could be ignored nor bullied, he never surrendered his dignity to either along the way.
Unlike some of those who preceded him as Yankees manager, he would not hide from Steinbrenner in the worst of times, taking the initiative to pick up the phone and call the owner, to be accountable, to commiserate, and above all else, to defuse, as best he could, any growing storm. But he would also hold his ground when necessary, sometimes using a well-honed cutting comment, with just the right amount of sarcasm, to knock Steinbrenner back on his heels a bit, to remind him that he -- Torre -- had played and managed for almost 40 years and that Steinbrenner had not.
Yankees staff members who were in the room for organizational meetings were awed by how adept Torre could be in dealing with Steinbrenner, in making it clear that some of his craziest ideas were horrible, exploiting Steinbrenner's own insecurity about his baseball knowledge, without inciting a confrontation.
He treated reporters as equals and generally did not play favorites. He answered their questions as honestly and respectfully as possible, without openly currying favor -- and in that way, favor was curried naturally.
As a beat reporter who covered the Yankees for four years, I had the same kind of relationship that most of the reporters had with him -- he dealt with me fairly, at arm's length. The joke among the beat reporters was that while Torre certainly knew the names of the individual reporters and would offer a smile and a nod, years would pass before he referred to them by name, if ever.
In the summer of 2000, the year after Torre was diagnosed with and treated for prostate cancer, the Metro desk at my paper, The New York Times, got a tip through the source at the mayor's office that Torre's cancer had returned. After his usual pregame meeting with reporters that day, in Detroit, I pulled Torre aside and asked him if this was true. It was not, and I could see in his face how taken aback he was by the question. Nothing about this ever appeared in the paper, of course.
The next day, he called me into his office alone, and with controlled anger, told me he thought my question was extraordinarily inappropriate, and beneath the tradition and dignity of The New York Times. He was livid, at the paper, at me. And after I left his office, he never mentioned the issue again, and never treated me any differently than he had before -- professionally, courteously, openly, and at arm's length. He was never warm with me, and yet, when my wife bumped into Torre and his wife at an event and introduced herself, he could not have been more gracious and gregarious with her.
Other managers will work harder than Torre, put in more time. His successor might handle the Yankees' pitching staff better than Torre, and moving forward, the team could benefit from statistical analysis in a way that it hasn't over the last 12 years. The lineups and lineup choices might be more informed.
But while many managers can crunch numbers and know the game, it remains to be seen whether anyone can usher the Yankees through the gantlet of crises the way that Torre has. The organization naturally veers toward chaos, because of the insatiable owner and media and fan base, and Torre mostly steered around all that, turning and deflecting.
I always will believe that during the 1996-2001 dynasty, Mariano Rivera was the only uniformed member of the organization more important to the Yankees' success than Torre. They could not have won so much without him, and it remains to be seen if any Yankee manager can ever be as successful or as adept as Joe Torre.
Torre 'couldn't agree to' proposed contract
By Buster Olney
ESPN The Magazine
Updated: October 18, 2007
As the Yankees' organizational meetings broke up Wednesday afternoon and general manager Brian Cashman prepared to fly back to New York, his cell phone rang. It was Joe Torre calling, to ask whether it would helpful, as his future with the Yankees was decided, for him to fly to Tampa and meet with the Steinbrenners face to face.
The Steinbrenners agreed. Torre had been told by Cashman over the last 72 hours what the forthcoming offer might be, but as Torre and Cashman flew to Tampa Thursday morning, Cashman asked the manager if he would accept. "Honestly, I don't know," Torre said.
George Steinbrenner was in the room when Torre sat down with Hank and Hal Steinbrenner, Cashman and team president Randy Levine. It was Hal Steinbrenner who spelled out the offer to Torre -- a one-year base of $5 million, with $1 million bonuses based on how far the Yankees advanced in the playoffs. The Steinbrenners explained their rationale for cutting his base salary 29 percent -- the team hadn't met the organization's goal of winning the World Series for seven seasons.
Torre was rewarded for past successes when he negotiated a new deal a few years ago, and in the proposed contract, his salary -- still the highest for any manager -- would come down for recent playoff failures.
Torre responded, in his measured tone, "Listen, I hear what you're saying, but that's something I couldn't agree to."
The Steinbrenners said that Torre would always be part of the family, and Torre and the Steinbrenners stood up. There were handshakes, and no tears, and after 12 years as Yankees manager, Torre walked away.
Torre survived a dozen seasons under Steinbrenner
By Buster Olney
ESPN The Magazine
Updated: October 18, 2007
Joe Torre was not George Steinbrenner's first choice to take over as manager of the Yankees in 1996. In fact, Torre initially was rejected as a candidate for general manager and manager, but Steinbrenner changed his mind, much to the dismay of columnists. "Clueless Joe," one headline blared infamously.
But with Torre came success not seen by the Yankees since the days of Mantle, DiMaggio and Ruth. The Yankees won the World Series in 1996, and again in 1998 -- when the team accumulated a record 125 victories including the postseason -- and in 1999 and 2000. The Yankees' championship dynasty ended in Arizona in 2001, on Luis Gonzalez's bloop single over the head of Derek Jeter, but Torre survived 12 seasons as Yankees manager, the same number of seasons that Miller Huggins and Casey Stengel managed the team.
But Stengel, Joe McCarthy and Huggins didn't work for Steinbrenner, the demanding Boss whom Torre adeptly handled for more than a decade. Rather than hide from Steinbrenner, like some previous Yankees managers, Torre would reach out to the owner, calm him, talk about horse racing. After the Yankees lost the first two games of the 1996 World Series, Torre told Steinbrenner not to worry, the Yankees would come back -- and they did.
Torre had a similar effect on his players, his tranquil demeanor serving to quell his players' anxieties in the maelstrom of New York. He became a father figure to the likes of Paul O'Neill, and to Jeter, who long referred to him as "Mr. Torre." Darryl Strawberry once cried on the steps of City Hall as he thanked his manager.
When the Yankees players were told, in March 1999, that Torre had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, some of them wept. In time, the personal trauma that Torre experienced during his time as Yankees' manager -- the death of his brother Rocco, the heart transplant of his brother Frank, the revelation that he had grown up in a home of domestic violence, his cancer -- would reinforce Torre's standing as a beloved and respected figure.
Newsweek published poll results from this question -- which sports figure would best be able to lead the country -- and Torre finished second, behind Michael Jordan.
He became so popular, by 2001, that Steinbrenner began to feel as if he couldn't fire Torre, because of the public backlash that might result. But now, for seven straight seasons, the Yankees have failed to reach the goal of the sky-high Steinbrenner Doctrine -- anything short of a championship is considered failure - despite spending about $1.3 billion in salary, revenue sharing and luxury tax. And now it seems Torre is out, at age 67.
He had 2,342 hits, nine All-Star appearances and an MVP Award as a player, and is the eighth-winningest manager of all time. With the Yankees, Torre managed baseball's only dynasty since the advent of free agency in 1976. He is destined to be inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame.
Buster Olney is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. He updates his Insider blog each morning on ESPN.com.
By Ty Burr
Welcome home, Ben Affleck - all is forgiven. Yes, even "Gigli."
In adapting Dennis Lehane's 1998 crime thriller "Gone Baby Gone," the Hollywood star has gone behind the camera and rescued his career from the water-cooler ridicule that has dogged it since the days of "Daredevil" and J.Lo. The joke's on us, it turns out; as a director, Affleck has come through with a sharp, morally ambiguous piece of pulp crackerjack.
More impressive, even unique, is the way this local boy uses Boston - the mythic, clannish Boston of writers like Lehane and the late George V. Higgins. "Gone Baby Gone" is a straight-up genre film whose plotting sometimes prompts disbelief and whose dialogue turns to agonized speechifying toward the end. Yet it's anchored throughout by an insider's knowledge of this particular street, that specific turn of phrase, this local actor cast in a key bit part. The sag of a three-decker and the sag on the faces of the people who live there.
"Mystic River" and "The Departed" may be the better movies, in other words (although in the case of "Mystic River" I'm open to argument), but "Gone Baby Gone," which opens Friday, is by far the better Boston movie.
As in "River," a missing child galvanizes the action. This time the victim is a 4-year-old girl, Amanda McCready, and her mother is anything but camera-ready. This doesn't stop NewsCenter 5 and its competition from descending like locusts on the Dorchester side street where Helene McCready (Amy Ryan) lives, the better to snap up prime-time footage of the grieving mom. Even in this early scene you can see what Affleck's getting right: The faces of the neighborhood women are shut down tighter than a storefront security gate.
Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) and Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan) aren't intruders, but they're still viewed with suspicion. Private investigators and lovers, the two are hired by Helene's busybody brother (Titus Welliver) and sister-in-law (Amy Madigan), who in short order inform the detectives that Social Services would have taken Amanda away long ago if anyone considered it the city's business. The cops are on the job, but Patrick and Angie know people in the neighborhood who don't talk to the police.
Director Ben Affleck on the set of Miramax Films' Gone Baby Gone - 2007
Reluctantly, they join the investigation; just as reluctantly, the two detectives working the case accept them. Ed Harris as Detective Remy Bressant and John Ashton ("Beverly Hills Cop" and "Midnight Run" - where has this bulldog been since then?) as his partner, Nick Poole, are more familiar crime-movie fixtures, but both actors bring a weary specificity and eyes that have seen it all.
The further everyone digs into Helene's immediate past, the more it stinks: a Haitian drug lord (Edi Gathegi), a bag of missing money, a tortured corpse in Chelsea. "Gone Baby Gone" takes place in the urban cracks where the roaches and the rats live; more than once, the characters leave a bar and you're shocked to discover it's still high afternoon.
When a city's worst impulses are hidden from sight, you have to know the terrain to find them. This is where Affleck's inner map serves him well. Would another director, one from out of town, have filmed a scene set at the Quincy quarries at the Quincy quarries? Does geography matter if you're not from around here?
It does. The Boston in this movie coheres as a town deeply lived-in, with roots so deep and so tangled they can surface miles away - in a quiet suburb, perhaps. Yet those connections are all that make sense of the place, especially since no one's talking. Lehane knows the class and ethnic divisions that balkanize the Hub, and Affleck captures them in a neighborhood kid's vulgar taunt or the flat, cold-fish stare of Helene's friend Dottie (the remarkable Jill Quigg, late of Southie's Old Colony housing projects).
That authenticity goes a long way to making "Gone Baby Gone" work when the plot twists start curling beyond the pale. Even the accents are unobtrusively dead-on for the most part; the way Ryan unprintably describes a smell in a certain apartment should win her an award from the South Boston Citizen's Association. The actress's larger triumph lies in letting us see damaged maternal love hiding beneath the skin of a hateful woman. This is the stuff supporting actress Oscars are made of.
Affleck's not certain what to do about race, though - he is from these parts, isn't he? - and white characters in the book have been cast with black actors (Gathegi, Morgan Freeman as a police captain) in ways that don't feel entirely organic to the tale. Yes, we're a more modern, cosmopolitan city than Lehane and "The Departed" indicate; no, Southie is not now nor ever has been all mook. And, yes, we're still chained to our ghosts. When the great Boston movie is finally made, it will deal with class and race and the past, and no one here will want to see it.
That said, "Gone Baby Gone" gets tantalizingly close. I'd never stopped to consider Casey Affleck as a movie star before, but under his big brother's tutelage, he blooms as a leading man of richly watchable savvy and intelligence. Purists will kick, since this Patrick Kenzie is nothing like the hero of Lehane's four novels: young rather than touched by middle age, slender instead of bulked up, a bit of a yuppie.
Casey Affleck in Miramax Films' Gone Baby Gone - 2007
The Patrick of the books rumbles like a flatbed truck down Dot Ave. and doesn't let anyone pass; the actor plays the character as a wary diplomat, able to play smooth or rough as circumstances dictate. (Monaghan, unfortunately, is given little to do but look distressed; the book's tough cookie is turned into a limp biscotti.)
Above all, Patrick is a neighborhood kid who grew up and out, who lives among the clan but has his eyes fixed on the horizon. He dresses well; he reads books and people. It's the specific plague of this city to not trust native sons who are "better than they should be," and nothing brings the wrath of a townie down faster than perceived superiority in another person. "I remember you from high school," Dottie tells Patrick before dropping the hammer. "You're still conceited."
You think the director knows something about this? Being "from here" is both a scar and a badge of honor, and you don't throw it over for preppie shirts or Hollywood superstardom without paying a price. It's a complicated thing, this Boston tug-of-war between belonging and ambition, and "Gone Baby Gone" worries at it like a metaphorical bone. "You must think you're more from here than me," the New Orleans-born Bressant tells the hero. "But I been living here more than you been alive. So who's right?"
Who's right: The question hangs over the movie like a curse. In its final scenes, after most of the bodies have been cleaned up, "Gone Baby Gone" expands its line of inquiry into a painful moral dilemma that pokes the bruise of class one last time. Is being part of a family, a neighborhood, a city worth the scars they can leave? The answering's easy. It's what you do with the answers that's hard.
Ty Burr can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more on movies, go to boston.com/ae/ movies/blog.
30 Days of Night (3 stars out of 5)
You take the original with the hackneyed in '30 Days of Night'
Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel Movie Critic
October 19, 2007
Cast: Josh Harnett, Danny Huston, Melissa George, Ben Foster, Mark Boone Junior
Director: David Slade.
Runtime: 1 hour 50 minutes
Rating: R for strong horror violence and language.
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Somebody has melted all of the satellite phones in Barrow, Alaska, on America's farthest frontier. They've sabotaged the radios, cut phone lines.
The power grid is going down. They've slaughtered the sled dogs.
Who did it? Is it those pesky Russkies? The new "Evil Empire" the Chinese?
Nope. It's those #@&$% vampires!
That's the brilliant conceit behind the Steve Niles comic, and the new movie based on it, 30 Days of Night: Send vampires to the most famously remote place on the continent. There, on the frozen tundra of Barrow, the sons and daughters of Dracula spill a lot of crimson on the snowy white nothingness.
Josh Hartnett is the local cop who wonders who or what has descended on Barrow just as the sun goes down for the winter. Melissa George plays his estranged wife, now a fire marshal anxious to flee to Anchorage before the airport shuts down. Mark Boone Junior is Beau, the crusty anti-social "sourdough" who runs the snowplow.
And Ben Foster is the deranged stranger who wanders in from a distant, ice-bound ice-breaker. To warn the town? Or to pave the way for mayhem?
"Bar the windows. Try to hide ..... That cold ain't the weather. That's death approaching!"
Pretty much everything that can be done has been done in vampire movies, especially since the superb Cold War metaphors Nightwatch and Daywatch came out of Russia. So you take the original with the hackneyed, and there's plenty of both in 30 Days of Night.
A few good lines zero in on the place and the people, the by-the-book "lock your doors and load your firearms" loud-speaker message from the police department SUV, the surly anti-government, survivalist ethos of many Alaskans.
"We know the cold," Harnett's cop tells the townsfolk not wiped out in the initial orgy of slaughter. "We live here for a reason. Because nobody else can."
The film also has a stunning sense of snow, remoteness and a perfectly chilly sci-fi look, thanks to art director Nigel Churcher, production designer Paul D. Austerberry and cinematographer Jo Willems.
But a few early jokes that promise a little horror-humor give way to a generally grim and gruesome 30-day slog as a handful of survivors try to hold out against the undead, led by Danny Huston, of all people. His character sputters his Slavic horror haiku through pointy teeth and black-hole eyes.
"When a man meets a force he cannot destroy, he destroys himself."
A nice touch the vampires don't leave breath fog in the cold, the "humans" do.
But the gas runs out of this snowmobile as we settle in for that wait for daylight. So much detail is left out that the "realism" vanishes. There isn't enough emotion connecting the cop to the soon-to-be-ex-wife. Very little is invested in characters. They're colorless, neither sympathetically emotional nor sarcastically cynical.
Still, 30 Days hangs on a pretty cool conceit. It doesn't spoil the movie that the "real" Barrow has over 4,000 people, not the hundred or so who stick around for the "days of night." A world of white-out is a great place to spill a lot of cinematic blood.
Being a woman is Mrs. Clinton's biggest asset--and she's trying to seem like one.
The Wall Street Journal
Friday, October 19, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT
Where do things stand now with Hillary Clinton? What is her trajectory almost a year since it became clear she was running for the presidency?
Some time back I said she doesn't have to prove she is a man, she has to prove she is a woman. Her problem is not her sex, as she and her campaign pretend. That she is a woman is a boon to her, a source of latent power. But to make it work, she has to seem like a woman.
No one doubts Mrs. Clinton's ability to make war. No close or longtime observer has ever been quoted as saying that she may be too soft for the job. Instead one worries about what has always seemed her characterological bellicosity. She invented the War Room, listened in on the wiretaps, brought into the White House the man who got the private FBI files of the Clintons' perceived enemies.
This is not a woman who has to prove she's tough enough and mean enough; she is more like a bulldozer who has to prove she won't always be in high gear and ready to flatten you. In private, her friends say--and I have seen it to be true--that she is humorous, bright, interested in the lives of others. But as a matter of political temperament and habit of mind, she is neither patient, high minded nor forbearing. Those who know Mrs. Clinton well, and my world is thick with them, have qualms about her toughness, not doubts.
But she is making progress. She is trying every day to change her image, and I suspect it's working. One senses not that she has become more authentic, but that she has gone beyond her own discomfort at her lack of authenticity. I am not saying she has learned to be herself. I think after a year on the trail she's learned how to not be herself, how to comfortably adopt a skin and play a part.
Her real self is a person who wants to run things, to assert authority, to create systems and have people conform to them. She is not a natural at the outsized warmth politics demands. But she is moving beyond--forgive me--the vacant eyes of the power zombie, like the Tilda Swinton character in "Michael Clayton." The Boston Globe, dateline Manchester, N.H.: "Clinton is increasingly portraying herself more as motherly and traditional than as trailblazing and feminist." In a week of "Women Changing America" events Mrs. Clinton has shared tales of Chelsea's childhood and made teasing references to those who are preoccupied by her hairstyles and fashion choices. On "The View" she joked of her male rivals, "Well, look how much longer it takes me to get ready." This was a steal from JFK's joke about Jackie when she was late for an appearance: "It takes her longer to get ready, but then she looks so much better."
Her fund-raising emails have subject lines like, "Wow!" and "Let's make some popcorn!" Her grin is broad and fixed. She is the smile on the Halloween pumpkin that knows the harvest is coming. She's even putting a light inside.
In New York this week she told a women's lunch that "we face a new question--a lot of people are asking whether America is ready to elect a woman to the highest office in our land." She suggested her campaign will "prove that America is indeed ready." She also quoted Eleanor Roosevelt: "Women are like tea bags--you never know how strong they are until they get in hot water."
Mrs. Clinton is the tea bag that brings the boiling water with her. It's always high drama with her, always a cauldron--secret Web sites put up by unnamed operatives smearing Barack Obama in the tones of Tokyo Rose, Chinese businessmen having breakdowns on trains after the campaign cash is traced back, secret deals. It's always flying monkeys. One always wants to ask: Why? What is this?
The question, actually, is not whether America is "ready" for a woman. It's whether it's ready for Hillary. And surely as savvy a campaign vet as Mrs. Clinton knows this.
Who, of all the powerful women in American politics right now, has inspired the unease, dismay and frank dislike that she has? Condi Rice, Nancy Pelosi, Dianne Feinstein? These are serious women who are making crucial decisions about our national life every day. They inspire agreement and disagreement; they fight and are fought with. But they do not inspire repugnance. Nobody hates Barbara Mikulski, Elizabeth Dole or Kay Bailey Hutchison; everyone respects Ms. Rice and Ms. Feinstein.
Hillary's problem is not that she's a woman; it's that unlike these women--all of whom have come under intense scrutiny, each of whom has real partisan foes--she has a history that lends itself to the kind of doubts that end in fearfulness. It is an unease and dismay based not on gender stereotypes but on personal history.
But here's why I mentioned earlier the latent power inherent in the fact that Hillary is a woman.
It is true that 54% of the electorate is composed of women, and that what feminist sympathies they have may be especially enlivened this year by a strong appeal. It is not true that women in general vote in anything like a bloc, but it is probably true--I think it is true--that they share in a general way some rough and broad sympathies.
One has to do with what it is to be a woman in the world. To be active on any level in the life of the nation is to be immersed in controversy. If you are a woman, the to and fro, the fights you're in, will to some extent be sharpened or shaped by what used to called sexism. There isn't a woman in America who hasn't been patronized--or worse--for being a woman, at least to some degree, and I mean all women, from the nun patronized by the bullying bishop to the congresswoman not taken seriously by the policy intellectual to the school teacher browbeaten by the school board chairman to the fare collector corrected by the huffy businessman. It happens to every woman.
Conservative women tend not to talk about it except to each other, and those conversations are voluble and pointed. They don't go public with their complaints because they're afraid it will encourage liberals to pass a law, and if you wanted more laws, or thought laws could reform human nature and make us all nice, you wouldn't be a conservative. Their problem is sharpened by the fact that some conservative men are boorish and ungentlemanly to show how liberated they are. But I digress.
Or rather I don't. The point is there are many women who will on some level be inclined to view Mrs. Clinton's candidacy through the lens of their experience as women, and there is real latent sympathy there if she could tap it, which is what she's trying to do.
But first, or more important, she will have to credibly and persuasively address what it is in her history--in her--that inspires such visceral opposition. That would be quite something if she did, or even tried.
Ms. Noonan is a contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal and author of "John Paul the Great: Remembering a Spiritual Father" (Penguin, 2005), which you can order from the OpinionJournal bookstore. Her column appears Fridays on OpinionJournal.com.
Newark Star Ledger:
Posted by Stan Goldstein October 19, 2007 1:12AM
Thursday's second show at Madison Square Garden was a special night because of two songs.
The tour debuts of Meeting Across the River (my favorite Springsteen song) followed by Jungleland.
Five of the eight songs from the Born to Run album were played.
Show began at 8:26 p.m.
1. Radio Nowhere
3. Lonesome Day
4. Gypsy Biker
6. Reason to Believe
Two shhhhhhhushhhes again by Bruce before as the crowd started getting into the song. Toward the end of the song Bruce put his harmonica in water and then splashed it around the stage.
7. Candy's Room
8. She's The One
9. Livin' In The Future
In his rap before the song, Bruce said "The Bill of Right has to get louder cheers than cheeseburgers! Damn people!"
Bruce also mentioned how the Statue of Liberty and the Jets and the Giants are in New Jersey and that the theme song from New York/New York was sung by a guy from Jersey.
10. The Promised Land
11. Tougher Than The Rest
12. Meeting Across The River
Just Bruce, Roy Bittan on piano and Garry Tallent playing the stand-up bass.
Bruce said before playing it:
"I have a special dedication tonight. An old friend passed away a while back. When I first game to New York City I met Peter Boyle. I had just put out Born to Run and Peter told me how much he liked it because of the failure and redemption on the album. Tonight would have been his birthday."
Perfectly done. It just doesn't get better than this at a Springsteen show for me.
What can you say. A perfect song to be played in Madison Square Garden. The place went nuts. Clarence sounded great on the sax solo. Bruce gave Clarence a double tap on the shoulder after he finished playing it.
After Jungleland Bruce said: "That's for Peter. We love you!"
14. You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch).
Bruce has a lot of fun on this song with Steven.
15. Devil's Arcade
16. The Rising
17. Last To Die
18. Long Walk Home
Main set over at 10:10 p.m .
Bruce came out for the encores wearing a black T-shirt that had "New York City" on it.
20. Girls in their Summer Clothes
"This was our original showstopper before there was anybody at the shows to stop," Bruce said. He mentioned again how he used to play the song at Max's Kansas City when he was on a bill with Bob Marley and The Wailers.
22. Born to Run
23. Dancing in The Dark
24. American Land
Five members of the Sessions Band joined the E Street Band on this song: Lisa Lowell on vocals, Jeremy Chatzky on bass, Larry Eagle on percussion, Charlie Giordano at Roy's piano and Greg Liszt on banjo.
Show over at 10:48 p.m.
Spotted in the crowd: Howard Stern and his fiancee Beth Ostrosky, (although they left before "The Rising" was played); Jack Ford from Cout TV, actor Ed Norton, Chuck Zito and NBA (Knicks) TV-announcer Mike Breen.
Overall six songs played tonight that weren't played on Wednesday night.
The tour now moves to Chicago for shows on Sunday and Monday.
By JON PARELES
The New York Times
Published: October 19, 2007
The Madison Square Garden crowd joyfully sang along with Bruce Springsteen on Wednesday night, not for the first or last time, as he reached the chorus of “Lonesome Day”: “It’s all right, it’s all right, it’s all right, yeah.” That’s what the sound of the E Street Band always says, surging past every bit of disillusionment, loss, bewilderment and bitterness in the verses.
The sheer vitality of Mr. Springsteen, 58, belting an entire set of showstoppers straight from the gut and working the stage with his longtime band, provides all the hope the lyrics struggle to find. He’s as serious as any public figure alive, but he leaves audiences euphoric — a paradox that only grows more profound as he endures.
The music Mr. Springsteen makes with the E Street Band is grounded in the invincible sound of the pop he grew up on, particularly Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound. It echoes the glory days of early rock ’n’ roll and an America that — after World War II and before Vietnam — was prosperous, confident and outwardly unified.
His favorite chord progressions hark back to doo-wop; so do the saxophone tags of Clarence Clemons. There’s camaraderie in the music and among the musicians. The video screens above the stage would constantly intercut close-ups of the band members with their boss.
Even when those old chords carry lyrics that are far more troubled than those of girl-group love songs, and even when songs expand into anthems and suites (like “Thundercrack,” the encore Mr. Springsteen revived from his barnstorming live shows in the early 1970s), the music itself harbors no doubts, no second thoughts.
Yet for decades Mr. Springsteen has sung about a world that grinds down dreams and betrays the promise of America. Six years into the second Bush administration, he is open about his political anger. He introduced the title song from his new album, “Magic” (Columbia), with a comment about our “Orwellian times,” when “what’s true can be made to seem like a lie, and what’s lying can be made to seem true.”
Playing the jovial M.C. while the band vamped the intro to another song from the album, “Livin’ in the Future,” he started out naming “things that we love about America, like cheeseburgers, the Jersey Shore, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution,” and went on to warn about “rolling back civil rights” and “sleeping through all those changes that shouldn’t have happened here.”
Concentrating on new songs, the set built into something like an extended argument about the meaning of home. Except for “Brilliant Disguise,” a song about a troubled marriage that Mr. Springsteen sang in harmony with his wife, Patti Scialfa, there were few old hits before the encores. Instead Mr. Springsteen brought back songs like “Adam Raised a Cain” and “The Promised Land.”
Most of the arrangements followed their recorded versions, with a vivid exception: “Reason to Believe,” a quiet song from “Nebraska” remade as a harmonica-huffing, John Lee Hooker-style blues boogie, tapping the blues for its alchemy of hard luck into pleasure.
The set’s conclusion was an emotional seesaw: a new ballad, “Devil’s Arcade,” for a soldier wounded in a desert war, and then “The Rising,” nothing less than an incantatory ritual of mourning and redemption. “Last to Die” and “Long Walk Home” contemplated the current morass.
Then “Badlands” vowed to push through: with the colossal beat of Max Weinberg’s drums and Gary Tallent’s bass, the chime-topped keyboard chords of Roy Bittan and Danny Federici, Mr. Clemons’s saxophone, Soozie Tyrell’s fiddle and the triple-barreled guitar strumming of Nils Lofgren, Steve Van Zandt and Mr. Springsteen. When the band paused, the audience sang at top volume: all burdens, all misgivings were cast off once again.
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band will be at the United Center in Chicago on Sunday and Monday.
Joe Goes Out With Dignity Still Intact
October 19, 2007 -- CLEVELAND - The more you think about it, the more you understand that there was nothing the Yankees could ever do to make this end well. Joe Torre was never going to give them the obvious escape hatches to jettison him from his nest in the Yankees dugout. He was never going to make it easy for them.
He was never going to get stinking drunk on a team charter, as Joe McCarthy did, and he was never going to start snoring on the bench and forgetting his players' names, as Casey Stengel did. He was never going to call his best player a “liar" and his owner “convicted," the way Billy Martin did.
And he was never going to lose 60 percent of his games, as Stump Merrill did.
In the end, he would have to leave the same way he arrived: with his head held high and his dignity intact. Few men have ever been allowed to leave that way. Good for him. Good for Joe.
Eventually, that faction of Yankees brass that wanted Torre out was going to do something very similar to what they did yesterday, presenting Torre with a contract they knew, in their hearts, he was going to be unable to accept. It was smart. It was crafty. No working man anywhere in New York is going to empathize too deeply with Joe Torre this morning, after walking away from $5 million in guaranteed money and another $3 million in incentives.
Fair enough. That still doesn't make this a rightful ending. And it still doesn't paint the ending anyone wanted. Maybe the problem all along was that Torre liked the job too much. Even if the Yankees won the World Series this year, do you really believe he would have left on his own then? Would he really have walked away?
Of course not. He loved the life. He loved the perks. He loved being the city's non-partisan unelected mayor, its smiling ambassador. He loved being one of the three most famous faces in a city filled with famous faces. He loved the attention. He loved the money. And he loved the fact that this was all taking place in his city, in his town, in his New York.
From the start, after all, this was a New York tale all the way, the kind of dream harbored in the souls of millions of kids through the years in the neighborhoods of Brooklyn and the Bronx, and the lower East Side, and Queens, and everywhere else in this tangled network of a town where baseball has always been king, always borne princes with wide eyes and big ideas.
In Joe Torre's case, it was a row house at 3324 Avenue T, and it was the surrounding streets of Marine Park that would flood with kids armed with broom handles and pink balls called “Spaldeens," filling their afternoons with the elegant geometries of a quintessential city game.
“The adults in the neighborhood, they hated the fact that we played stickball in the street," Joe Torre told me a few years ago, his eyes closed and his mind drifting, rewinding half a century and more. “They wanted us to move the games to the park. And no matter how much you tried to explain, they couldn't seem to grasp that you can't bounce a ball on grass."
This was Joe Torre's basic appeal, of course. It was that way 30 years ago, with the Mets, when he managed some of the lousiest teams you'll ever see but always managed to do the job with a distinct Gotham grace and good humor that belied the train wreck he'd been handed. And it was that way all across his final year with the Yankees, maybe his finest year on the job, when he was the biggest reason - bigger than A-Rod, bigger than Joba, bigger than anyone - that the Yankees were able to overcome the vast hole they'd dug for themselves.
“We respect Joe Torre an awful lot," said Randy Levine, the team president who dominated the conference call yesterday that delivered the fateful news. Referring to the Yankees' inability to escape the first round, Levine said: “It's nobody's fault. And it's everybody's fault."
Now, this will be someone else's maze to negotiate, someone else's team to manage. Good luck to them. Maybe somewhere in the mix of Don Mattingly, Joe Girardi, Bobby Valentine and Tony La Russa - let's call them Matgirvalla, for short - will emerge a baseball version of George Allen, who followed Vince Lombardi in Washington and took the Redskins to the Super Bowl two years later.
Or maybe they will get a pinstriped version of Phil Bengtson instead, who followed Lombardi in Green Bay and became a trivia question for his troubles.
We'll find out now. We'll all find out. Those who revered him to the final minute, and those who plotted years for this very day, and this very outcome. Soon enough, we'll all find out.
New York Daily News
Joe Torre is surrounded by media as he returns to his home in Harrison, NY, after a meeting with Yankee's management Thursday, Oct. 18, 2007, in Tampa, Fla.
CLEVELAND - The Yankees probably think they played this just right, but they aren't fooling anybody here. It's obvious they didn't want Joe Torre back, no matter what they're saying. They just didn't have the guts to fire him.
So now we know what the new Yankee hierarchy was doing for two days in Tampa: coming up with an exit strategy that Hank and Hal Steinbrenner apparently thought would leave no blood on their hands.
At least George Steinbrenner took the heat for his notorious firings over the years, no matter how illogical some of them might have been. The fact that he wasn't heard from at all during this "process," as GM Brian Cashman repeatedly called it, is surely the most telling sign of all that the old Boss is gone for good as Yankee fans knew him.
Instead, the Yankees came up with an offer they had to know that Torre would either find insulting or see as a set-up - or both. If they were going to offer him a salary that cuts his pay by one-third - players' salaries can't be cut more than 20% - then at the very least, they had to offer him a two-year deal.
It's not that the $5 million Torre turned down isn't plenty of money - that's just not the point. A one-year deal, especially after Steinbrenner's public threat to fire him, was, at best, the Yankees telling the world they didn't have a better alternative.
You can't do that to any manager, especially the highest-profile manager in baseball who is expected to lead a locker room full of superstar egos and huge salaries. Players surely would have seen it as a complete lack of confidence, and no matter how much they may respect Torre, such a perception could erode any manager's ability to lead.
As for the contract incentives, based on winning in October, there's a reason no team has ever done that before: it's ridiculous. What, Torre is going to try harder to win playoff games with an extra million riding on each round?
How could the Yankees, of all organizations, make this about money, anyway? This is a franchise that overpays for or plain wastes money away every winter on players such as Kyle Farnsworth, Kei Igawa and Jaret Wright, to name a few of the most blatant examples of recent years.
Don't mistake this as a Poor, Poor Joe slant. It's about handling a difficult situation with the kind of class with which Torre managed the Yankees for 12 years.
On that count, the Yankees couldn't have done worse. If they wanted him out, based on early playoff exits the last three years, that was their right, even if it's ignoring the more difficult task of making the playoffs every year, especially this year.
Indeed, if the Rockies' berth in the World Series isn't proof enough that MLB is moving more and more toward NFL-style parity, consider that the Yankees are the only one of the eight playoff teams this season who made it to October last year, never mind the last 12 under Torre.
And for this, the brass offers him one year? How did this make sense? Emasculating Torre was somehow going to make him a better manager in October?
So it looks very calculated. And whatever role Hank and Hal Steinbrenner played in this, maybe they could justify it as somehow following the wishes of their father, but surely Cashman had to be embarrassed by the way this played out.
Unless he too wanted Torre out. There were indications this season that after all his years as a Torre supporter, Cashman wouldn't have minded a change himself.
The Joba Chamberlain rules were one obvious example that he didn't trust Torre with one of his prized young pitchers, and his public criticism of how openly Torre talked about those rules was a sign of friction.
It's well-known around the Yankees that Cashman had become a devotee of statistics, to the sabermetrics philosophy of building a ballclub. Whether he wanted a manager in that mold, nobody knows for sure, but knowing Torre better than anyone else involved in this decision, he had to know the manager would walk away from this.
How could any of the Yankees bigwigs think that after everything Torre has endured in recent years, from last year's near-firing, to Steinbrenner's humiliating threat two weeks ago, to 10 days of indecision, he could accept such an offer?
And if they truly did want him back, thinking he was still the best man for the job, how were they not willing to even negotiate with him?
And how is it that, after two days of hiding from the media, they organized a conference call with New York reporters by about the time Torre was getting into a cab to go back to the airport?
No, the Yankees didn't want Torre back, and he was smart enough to realize it. So he goes out with his dignity while the Yankees look small for letting it end this way. Better that they'd had the guts to fire him.
By Mike Lupica
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How will you remember Joe?
What do you think about Torre's decision?
He was a gentleman to the end, Joe Torre was, on the day it ended for him with the Yankees, at least for now. He flew down on a private plane to Tampa, and he already knew the Yankees were going to cut his salary, about to officially find out that they were only prepared to bring him back on a one-year contract, with some nice incentives attached. It meant a lightweight like Isiah Thomas had more job security.
So maybe Torre had already decided, before he ever got near Legends Field, that he was going to be the first manager to ever fire George Steinbrenner.
Manager fires Yankees. The Yankee version of man bites dog.
And it is some man. This is the great gentleman of modern Yankee history, whether you are in the majority of Yankee fans and wanted him to stay, or from the minority who thought it was time for a change, that not even Torre gets to manage the Yankees forever, that if he got all the credit he had to get at least some of the blame.
There has still never been anybody quite like this managing the Yankees or anybody else.
You knew it would end badly someday between Torre and the Yankees, even after all the winning they did together. It ended badly yesterday, with the Yankees making Torre an offer they had to know he would refuse and Torre walking away from the best baseball job he will ever have.
To the end, though, all the way into that room with George Steinbrenner and his two sons and Randy Levine, the team president, and Brian Cashman, the general manager who saved Torre's job a year ago, when he had a year left, not the two weeks he had when he walked into the room yesterday, Torre carried himself with a kind of grace with which you must be born.
Hal Steinbrenner, the youngest Steinbrenner son, did most of the talking for the family. There was a lot of explaining on both sides, all those from Yankee management talking about the money they were offering in the new contract - $5 million for next season, million-dollar bonuses for each round of the playoffs the Yankees won, an $8 million contract for '09 becoming automatic if the Yankees made it back to the World Series for the first time in five years - and Torre ultimately explaining why he had to turn them down.
Torre never acted insulted, never raised his voice. The mood was never confrontational in that room yesterday, on either side. But then it never could be with Joe Torre in there.
The old man let the others do most of the talking and shook Joe Torre's hand when it was over. Who knows what George Steinbrenner meant during the Yankees-Indians series when he said Torre was gone if the Yankees went out in the first round again? Who knows what he is really like these days? What we know is that if the family, and Yankee management, really wanted Torre to come back, they would have made him a better offer than they did.
But Torre was not confrontational yesterday at Legends Field because it has never been his nature, this Brooklyn kid who grew up with a hatred of loud voices and any kind of violence, who has dedicated his fine Safe at Home Foundation to fighting domestic abuse in such an important way. Of course, he never yelled enough to suit Steinbrenner, even in the old days, when the old man was still inclined to yell back.
Joe Torre never was one for making a scene, in all the years when he turned Yankee hating into as much of a chore as it has ever been. He didn't make a scene yesterday as he listened to all the reasons why he should accept what he considered a lowball offer, even as the Yankees said they were still prepared to make him the highest-paid manager in baseball.
Torre decided he deserved better, even if it meant walking away from the job that will put him in the Hall of Fame. He didn't act insulted as he heard them out in that room, but had to be.
If this all holds - if the deal that went down yesterday meets the Hollywood standard of not just being set, but "set set" - he walks away from the Yankees, at least for now, the way Yogi Berra did when Steinbrenner fired him 16 games into the 1985 season after promising him he would give him the whole year, swearing that Yogi would have the job all year. Yogi Berra walked away from the Yankees that day, walked away from the Stadium, stayed away a very long time. We'll see how it goes with Joe Torre if this is really the end.
Torre told them all, in his quiet voice, his quiet way, yesterday how well he had done for the Yankees, how much he had done over the past 12 years. And they told him he had done pretty well BY the Yankees, everybody knowing that if the Yankees had ended up winning the World Series this year, they might have been talking about $10 million a year for Torre yesterday, not $5 million with incentives.
An agreement about a disagreement, that was what happened in that room yesterday, what they all felt when it was over.
It was just the most famous disagreement we are ever likely to see in baseball, the most famous manager telling the people who run the most famous team to take their job and shove it. A manager finally fired the Yankees yesterday. Got up and walked out of the room. It was always going to be this way with Joe Torre, like 100 men leaving the room.