From Publishers Weekly
Nothing succeeds like success. But human nature being what it is, some people get a thrill when the successful fail. Is it a matter of rooting for the underdog or bringing the haughty and powerful down a peg? Olney, who covers the Yankees for the New York Times, addresses the question in this sympathetic assessment as he selects their seventh-game loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2001 World Series as the turning point in the team's decline. Recounting the details of the contest, he flashes back to reveal how individuals contributed to the Yankees' accomplishments in recent years. Of course, the one person who demands success, and for whom even victory doesn't seem to be enough, is owner George Steinbrenner. Much of the ill will generated by the legions of Yankee-haters can be traced to Steinbrenner, with his bullying and deep pockets. Olney's work puts the team under a microscope, as if the daily exasperations, disappointments and even boredom suffice to explain why their fortunes reversed. Olney gives a good account: success is hard work that, like prayers, sometimes does not yield the hoped-for result.
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Many readers of this book, starting with fans of the other American League teams, might find laughable the notion that the "Yankee Dynasty" has ended, the team having played in two of the last three World Series, after winning four of the previous five. Still, Olney makes a good case that the championship-winning Yankees were a divinely built team whose talents fit perfectly together: "[Derek] Jeter's confidence, [Paul] O'Neill's intensity, [Tim] Raines' humor, [Joe] Girardi's professionalism." Add manager Joe Torre's calming intelligence, closer Mariano Rivera's unhittable fastballs, owner George Steinbrenner's maniacal competitiveness, and a series of tragedies that bonded the team--and the Yanks were unstoppable. Until Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, which Olney details here inning by inning, interspersing his account with profiles of the Yankee principals involved. Olney, now a writer for ESPN, delivers a winning valedictory to the five years he covered the team for the New York Times. Alan Moores
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