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The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty: The Game, the Team, and the Cost of Greatness Hardcover – August 17, 2004

4.3 out of 5 stars 68 customer reviews

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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
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

About the Author

Buster Olney, who covered the Yankees for the New York Times for four seasons, is currently a senior writer for ESPN. He lives in New York.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 346 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco (August 17, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060515066
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060515065
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,208,953 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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By C. W. Repak on September 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Buster Olney dives behind the scenes to tell us about what it was like in the clubhouse and executive suite at Yankee Stadium during the first six years of the Joe Torre area, and it stays behind the scenes almost exclusively.

That yields lots of additional info even for this lifelong Yankees fan, though its pitch-by-pitch focus on the excrutiating Game 7 of the 2001 World Series is, unfortunately, far more detail than we get of many of the other gripping moments in those six years. Glossed over, mentioned in passing or omitted altogether are such moments as Mariano Rivera's coming-out party in Game 2 of the 1995 Division Series against Seattle, perhaps the most crucial founding moment of the dynasty; Derek Jeter's Jeffrey Maier home run; Scott Brosius's Series-changing homer off Trevor Hoffman in Game 3 of the '98 World Series; the emotionally shattering crowd chant of Paul O'Neill's name in the top of the ninth inning of Game 5 in the 2001 World Series; and the list goes on.

Granted, the team's on-field exploits weren't the focus of the book, but rather the building of the team, how its players, coaches and execs related to one another and to Boss George Steinbrenner; but if Olney is going to recount every pitch of the most painful loss of those six years, then he should dwell a bit more on the myriad moments of triumph that permeate those years. For example, what did O'Neill's teammates think of the chant? What was Steinbrenner's reaction? Torre's?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Forest have been felled in writing books about the New York Yankees, but Buster Olney has provided us with an interesting account of George Steinbrenner's 2001 Yankees. Each chapter discusses a different player or executive, and he does provide interesting anecdotes about each one. The final few paragraphs of each chapter discuss the progress of the 7th game of the 2001 World Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks. In addition to players chapters are devoted to Steinbrenner, Brian Cashman, and Gene Michael. The chapters on each individual are not a mundane recitation that you can find anywhere. Olney provides us with insights into the personalities of his subjects, and how they react to the stressful positions they find themselves in playing for an owner who insists on winning all the time. If not, "There are going to be changes. Meeting in Tampa in 48 hours." The book takes its title from the fact that several of the Yankees' winning type players have retired while the team has now become a collection of aging superstars with hefty contracts that don't necessarily mix well together as a team. That, and a barren farm system, spell demise for the Yankees' dynasty. I'm not a Yankees' fan, but I found the book to be worth my time and one that is worth keeping in my bookcase as part of baseball's glorious history. You won't be disappointed.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Buster Olney, a former beat writer for the New York Times, looks at the New York Yankees' run of baseball success from 1996 to 2000 from the vantage point of the night it all came to an end, Game 7 of the 2001 World Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Published in 2004, the book's title seems overwrought. The Yankees haven't won a World Series in the last five seasons, but they have that in common with a lot of other good teams, and the Bombers remain impressive, winning the American League East every season since 1998, and well over .500 in 2006 as of this writing.

But something was lost in 2001, a spirit that departed along with Scott Brosius, Paul O'Neill, and Tino Martinez. One of the remaining Yankees, Derek Jeter, is quoted bemoaning at the end: "It's not the same team." Olney makes a convincing case for that non-quantifiable game element known as team chemistry, both its presence from 1996-2001 and its absence thereafter.

Olney seems to model his book, consciously or not, on the classic Dan Okrent book "Nine Innings," which focused on a single regular-season game in 1982, using each half-inning as an excuse to digress on different elements on the game and its players. The great thing about "Nine Innings," or one of them, was the fact the game wasn't that important, it was just another mid-season game and presented Okrent for a backdrop as he divided his focus between the two small-market clubs playing that day. Here, the game is the last one of the 2001 World Series, and all the focus is on the Yankees.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Another lucid piece of writing from Buster Olney. Using Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, which Olney deems the "the last night," as a backdrop, the book explains the backgrounds of players and other central figures of the late 90s dynasty. Each chapter is focused on a specific player and their role in the dynasty, which is in turn wrapped into specific parts of Game 7. The book function like a series of independent anecdotes, which are entertaining, but are told at the expense of showing the chronological erosion of the dynasty itself. Olney's format is vivid and entertaining, but a chronological analysis might better showcase the reasons for the dynasty's collapse.

The first Yankees dynasty (30s-40s) was founded on homegrown talent. Free agency was not part of the game the, but the Yankees cultivated all-stars including Dickey, DiMaggio, and Gehrig to dominate the sport. Homegrown talent helped the Yankees prosper in the 90s, too. The dynasty had invaluable veteran imports like Martinez and O'Neill, but without the homegrown youngsters -- Jeter, Pettitte, Posada, Rivera, and Williams -- the dynasty would have never been. All empires fall eventually, but the Yankees' fall was seemingly quick.

Yankee dynasty collapsed for obvious reasons: many key players left and/or retired. The expensive new players had to inherit the winning legacy, which they could not do. This financially constrained the Yankees. Olney touches on how the "money machine spun out of control." The epilogue provides some insight on this topic: monster contracts for ultimately inconsistent players limited the Yankees' options. Veterans who were past their primes were acquired in hopes of preserving and prolonging the Yankees' winning ways (Giambi, Sheffield, and Brown to name a few).
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