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Original Issue

Furious George

MEMO TO: New York Yankees manager Joe Torre, all Yankees staff and players

CC: Horse trainer Nick Zito, all Kinsman Stable employees and horses

BCC: All New York City and Tampa hospitals

FROM: Stephen Sukupp, personal assistant to Mr. George Steinbrenner

RE: Mr. Steinbrenner's mood, highest alert

NOTE: Confidential

Be advised that Mr. S is returning from the Kentucky Derby soon after a very, very bad weekend. Personally, I would give him a wider berth than Sean Penn with an impacted molar.

His horse, Bellamy Road, the colt that some were comparing with Secretariat, the one that went off as the 5-2 favorite, the one that was supposed to make the other entries look like Tijuana mules, the horse that trainer Nick Zito called "a gift from God," finished seventh. He was beaten by a 50-1 shot, a 72-1 shot and a 46-1 shot. It's a wonder Bellamy Road didn't get shot. He did not win, place, or show up.

Worse, Mr. S's beloved Yankees have been sucking like the Hoover factory. Last week they were in last place after April for the first time in 10 years. You just don't see a team with a $208 million payroll in last place, do you? That's like seeing Bill Gates walking down the road with a gas can. Or Paris Hilton at Goodwill.

The Yankees haters out there are delirious. I'm sure poor Mr. S is hearing it from them.

Hey, George, love what you've done with the basement!

Not to worry, George! You turn the paper upside down, you're in first!

Who does your shopping, George, the Pentagon?

Mr. S will be mad enough to eat bees. He will be in what we call his Furious George place. He'll need cold compresses for his forehead. He already had me order up another crate of pink slips, and believe me, he won't be writing any to himself.

So it is my advice, dear employees, to stay home, call in scared or go to the courthouse and beg for jury duty. If you must come in, I recommend wearing a suit to match the wallpaper. Women should wear shifts that resemble potted ferns. Mr. S will be looking to fire anybody and everybody. Last time he was this mad, he fired two FedEx guys and a homeless lady before he got to his desk.

Mr. Torre, as the Yanks' manager, you're in real danger. Have you considered a disguise? Perhaps dress as a reporter. Mr. S rarely talks to them anymore. In Louisville he gave fewer quotes than Bellamy Road.

I feel for you, Mr. Torre. You didn't have much luck at Churchill Downs, either. The day before the Derby your 3-year-old filly, Sis City--the 3-5 favorite to win the Kentucky Oaks--ran like she was carrying the McCaughey septuplets, finishing fourth. Then, that night, your $208 Million Mistake went out and played like a bunch of three-year-olds, committing three errors in the 10th inning alone and losing to the Oakland A's 6-3. We all like you, Mr. Torre, but I have a feeling Mr. S will be moving your desk to Bellamy Road. Got a shovel?

I know it's hard to feel sorry for a spoiled, petulant, silver-spoon boor who buys whatever it takes to win and then calls himself a winner, but you have to feel a little sorry for Mr. S. He's like King Midas walking backward lately. Everything he touches turns to mold. He trails a team with a $74 million payroll, the Baltimore Orioles, by eight games already. Mr. S spent more than that on Jason Giambi--and he was benched.

And even when good things do happen to the Yankees--and it hasn't been often--somebody finds a way to kill the buzz. Case in point: Our own Alex Rodriguez had a heroic game last month, with three home runs and 10 RBIs, so what did some media types do? Drag out the old Yeah, but he's not a real Yankee argument.

How dare they say that? Alex Rodriguez left his teammates and his fans in Texas for monster bucks from Mr. S and to try to win a cheap World Series ring. If that's not a real Yankee, what is?

Oh, and then came the capper--the hats. Cartons containing 47,000 Yankees hats were stolen last week from a New Jersey warehouse! The way the Yanks are playing, those hats will be about as easy to fence as fur sinks.

It should be simple for detectives to catch the thieves, though, because each of those hats has the Cap Day sponsor's logo on the back. Personally, I think the authorities should subject the first 10 people they catch wearing those hats to a cruel and unusual penalty: Make them start for the Yanks the next game.

Anyway, Mount Steinbrenner is about to blow. I'd bring a Kevlar umbrella. I wish you all the best. Me, I won't need it.

I quit yesterday.

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It is my advice, dear Yankees employees, to stay home, call in scared or go to the courthouse and beg for jury duty.