The Last Nine Innings
By Charles Euchner
A Review By Phil Speranza
A baseball fan reads a book about baseball because he loves the game. The key word there is game. The cover itself will turn off the avid Yankee fan. The slogan "You'll Never watch a Baseball Game The Same Way." Broadcasts the fact that it more than just a baseball book. The author Charles Euchner has written six other books that deal with the business of baseball as far as the amenities go.
As far as the baseball purest goes the slogan itself tells you this book is more than the game. The photo brings back a bad memory to the Yankee fan all by itself. The photo is enough to keep the Yankee fan from buying the book. The photo depicts Luis Gonzalez's game winning hit with one out in the ninth inning of Game 7 of the 2001 World Series. A game that had Yankees written all over it. From the travesty of the WTC bombings to a World Series where the Yankees should have been swept.
Mr. Euchner marks this hit and game as a turning point in the make up of todays game. It is at this point that he asks the question Is Baseball Better or Worse? He questions everything from psychology, movements, fitness, and their relationship with the "new" stats of the game. He blasts everything from the media to the free agent system and naturally jumps on the steroids bandwagon.
The author uses Game 7 of the 2001 World Series as the main focal point to rip into the game that we love. He takes shots at Paul O'Neill as well as teen idol Derek Jeter. O'Neill's base running choices that feeds fuel to a discussion about the theory and practice of base running; he takes a sharp grounder to Jeter in the second inning and make it gospel of his whole career and shoots down the use of fielding stats in general.
Euchner hits just about everything: there are treatments on the mechanics and physics of hitting and pitching, the intricacies of managing, and the globalization of the game, and quite a few other subjects. The author makes a simple game way to complicated and if one reads this book to learn about the game they would probably chose another sport to be a fan of. You didn't think that game seven had such an impact did you?
Mr. Euchner does a great job of detailing the events of each inning in with conversations he's had with the managers of each team, the players, and other people associated with the game of baseball. I probably would have enjoyed that more if my team won, but it was a great insight into what went wrong. He also uncovers trivial tidbits like conversations with Mariano Rivera where he reveals why he plans to devote himself to God after his playing days are over. Her brings forth the fact that Mariano's close friend and teammate; Enrique Wilson may be dead now if the Yankees had won that game. It seems Wilson had reservations on Flight 587 to the Dominican Republic; which crashed bearing no survivors upon take off. Once the Yankees fell to the D-backs Enrique changed his reservations to an earlier flight and the rest is history.
While it brings up a lot of trivial, although some useless facts the book is quite an interesting read but maybe not for the between the lines baseball fan as it brings up way too many bad memories for the Bronx Bomber fans.