Every so often, a book comes along that is really special — it contributes to the way people think about a topic, and possibly encourages them to look at something in a completely different way. The Last Nine Innings is one of those books.
Rewind to Game 7 of the 2001 World Series between the New York Yankees and Arizona Diamondbacks. The Yankees were looking for a fourth straight ring, while the Diamondbacks, only in their fourth year of existence, were staking their claim on the game’s greatest prize with a collection of top-notch veterans and role players. One team was going home with the hardware that night – while the other would be going home with a lot of what if’s and a long wait until the next season.
Charles Euchner takes this amazing setting and breaks down nine innings of baseball – mixing physics, storytelling, play-by-play, history, medicine and statistics to literally rip every thread out of the seams of a ballgame and examine the makings of a championship game. It analyzes the amazing amount of stress and almost torture that the human body endures playing the game. It takes you inside the impact that the Diamondbacks had on baseball in the greater Phoenix area, and how they have transformed the Valley of the Sun into one of the hotbeds of youth and amateur baseball.
Euchner takes you on the field, into the clubhouse, the front office, and the heads of some of the games biggest stars, while never taking the game over your head.
This is one book that will both engage and challenge the serious fan, while entertaining and enlightening the casual one. As a serious follower of baseball, I would love to be able to put this book into the hands of anyone who has ever or will ever watch a baseball game so that they might better understand the inner workings of what happens on and off the field — and not frivolous details such as a player’s favorite food. From the moment I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. Especially during this final week of the postseason, it is a timely read that will help you appreciate just what is going on between the final two teams left.
Enjoyable? Absolutely. Worth adding to your bookshelf? Definitely. In fact, I’d suggest adding it to a friend’s bookshelf as well – it is that good, and you’ll benefit from it as much as your friend will.
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With the Baseball Book Review, I’m Pat Lagreid.