NEW YORK, JULY 31 -- New York awoke today to monstrous headlines, gloating columnists and long-alienated fans who put back on their Yankees caps in response to baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent's decision to give the team's boss George Steinbrenner the heave-ho.

In delis, taxis and subway cars New Yorkers chewed over the news, some slapping each other high fives.

There were, of course, the Steinbrenner sympathizers, like the bartender at Mickey Mantle's eatery who whispered her regret, or the less reticent Manhattan steakhouse owner who posted a "Bring Back the Boss" banner on his establishment. But such loyalty was a rare sentiment on the streets today.

Walter Landaverde, a 10-year-old from the Bronx, was wearing his blue Yankees cap around town today, glad to see Steinbrenner gone. "He was messing the team up," said Walter.

"I'm a die-hard Yankee fan, and I think it's great," said Tom Abbadessa, 41, as he waited for customers atop a horse-drawn carriage in Central Park. "He was just bad for baseball ... he alienated the players and the fans."

Lawyers Mark Speciner and Jim Blaney were among the thousands in Yankee Stadium last night who stood and cheered Steinbrenner's ouster. "When I got home I was talking to my wife, saying now we'll probably get somebody worse," said Speciner, over lunch with Blaney and another friend in a Manhattan deli. "Then I thought, there can't be anybody worse."

Of the three lawyers out to lunch, only Jim Donoian was gloomy. "This is a bittersweet time for me," said Donoian, a Manhattan resident who holds season tickets to Boston Red Sox games. "It's sad to see the end of this era for those of us who couldn't wait to see the next stupid thing Steinbrenner would do."

New York's tabloids heralded the news about Steinbrenner with headlines as high as 3 3/4 inches.

"The Pinstriped chameleon is dead! Long live the commissioner!" exulted Steve Serby of the New York Post. "Roseanne Barr would be better received on this night than the once mighty bully who, essentially, grabbed his crotch and spit on the office of the Commissioner of Baseball, the true Boss of Bosses."

Newsday columnist Joe Gergen called Steinbrenner "the man who held the club and, in a sense, the entire city hostage to his whims. Maybe now Yogi Berra can come home. Maybe now a manager will be allowed to finish an entire season."

"How did we ever get this lucky?" said Vic Ziegel, also in the Daily News, who in his column repeated like a giddy mantra, "He's gone."

WFAN Sportsradio host Richard Neer took calls for three hours this morning from listeners eager to rehash the decision.

"Surprisingly, the phone calls we took on the air were split 50-50," Neer said, minutes after the show ended. Asked what accounted for the discrepancy between the sentiment on the street and on the airwaves, Neer said, "People don't like to gloat over somebody's misfortune. So a lot of people pleased that George was gone wouldn't call up and dance on his grave."

Neer expressed concern that Vincent will be unable to effectively enforce his ban on Steinbrenner's involvement with the Yankees. "If his son is there it could be like Baby Doc and Papa Doc {Duvalier} in Haiti," Neer said. "How do you know if the son is getting advice from his father?"

Yankee fans everywhere were eager for expert analysis on what the change will mean for their team. This afternoon, diners at Mickey Mantle's Restaurant and Sports Bar on Central Park South listened in to the WFAN radio talk show broadcast live from one of the restaurant's window-side tables.

"There's still so many things up in the air that I just don't think it's over," said Tony Kubek, former Yankee and now Yankees announcer for the Madison Square Garden Network, a guest on the radio show.

On the other side of town, where the "Bring Back the Boss" banner was unfurled and hung on the Old Homestead steakhouse, owner Mark Sherry said he has initiated a petition to try to persuade Vincent to change his mind. "We believe in second chances," Sherry said. "George Steinbrenner has brought a lot of pennants and World Series to New York."

Does Sherry worry that the legions of Yankee fans who don't share his opinion will boycott his restaurant? "Not at all," he said. "The steaks will stand on their own merit."