Not only did Manuel question Torre's "integrity" for saying he was "curious" about the potential opening in Queens but the current Mets manager was especially amused by Torre's admission that he was hoping that his phone would be "ringing" with job offers this winter.
In joking around with reporters, Manuel said, "What's his number?" Then, pretending to have a phone conversation with Torre, a laughing Manuel snapped: "What's up dawg? I'm still here!"
Beneath the standup act, however, Manuel was clearly irritated by Torre's behavior. Before Manuel launched into the mock phone call, he addressed Torre's conduct at length and accused him of violating an unspoken code between managers about job security.
A few hours later, Gaby Sanchez eliminated the Mets from playoff contention - for the fourth consecutive year - with a tiebreaking, three-run homer off Elmer Dessens in the eighth inning to lead the Marlins to a 5-2 victory. David Wright and Lucas Duda homered for the Mets' runs. "We had our chances," Wright said, summing up another failed season. "For whatever reason - injuries, poor performance, poor execution - we really shot ourselves in the foot."
On Monday, Torre was asked about possibly managing the Mets and he replied, "I am curious. When the season is over, I hope the phone will be ringing."
That did not sit well with Manuel, who turned the same phrase back at Torre.
"I find it also curious when someone comments about a job that someone already has," Manuel said. "I think Joe gave me a great opportunity to go to the All-Star Game [as a coach] in '99. I don't know him on a personal basis. But when things like that come out or are said, you question the integrity - that's what comes to my mind."
After hearing of Manuel's remarks, Torre said last night that his comments were misunderstood. "I apologize," Torre told reporters in Los Angeles. "He is right that I shouldn't have said that, and I don't think I did. Somebody asked me if I would take a call from Fred Wilpon. I have known Fred Wilpon forever. I won't be managing the Mets, and I thought I made that clear yesterday. It was about taking a call as opposed to looking for a job."
After Tuesday's loss, Manuel accepted the apology, saying: "Of course. I've always known [Torre] as a class person. I have no problem with that."
As for Torre's future, he tried to put the Mets' rumors to rest, adding: "I am closing the door on managing the Mets and probably everybody else. My intention is that when I finish here as a manager a week from Sunday, I am anticipating that will be my last game as a manager."
Manuel has two weeks left on his two-year contract and he is almost certainly a goner with ownership seeking a new direction. Still, Manuel insisted that campaigning for a current manager's job is not acceptable. "No, not in in my opinion," Manuel said. "Not while a guy has that job. That's not integrity, and that's what you hope to find in those different high-profile positions such as this."
Manuel took it a step further when a reporter suggested it was "disrespectful." Said Manuel: "Sure. No question."