Why I Read It: Morbid Curiosity. I'm a Red Sox fan.
Summary: How the Yankees rebuilt in the early 1990s while the Boss was away and achieved greatness once more.
My Thoughts: I like to get these things out of the way first. I really liked this book, but the author had me for exactly 301 pages, Then, he lost me, with one simple line.
"The franchise desperately needed a twenty-third championship."
There is no North American sports franchise, no North American city, that ever "desperately" needed a twenty-third championship. I'm sure that Yankees fans all over the world would be perfectly happy holding 22 World Series championships over the heads of all other baseball fans. Think about it. Even today, the Cardinals are a distant, poor second, with 11 championships. The Yankees were never desperate for another title.
OK. Purged. Onward.
This was a fun read, Red Sox fan or not. It reminded me a bit of Mike Shropshire's Seasons in Hell in that it covered not a championship season, but those in-between years when a plan is put in place and a million things have to go right for a team to reach the ultimate goal. Unfortunately, for Shropshire's Texas Rangers, it never happened. For the 1990s Yankees, it all worked out in the end.
This was the era of growth for the Core Four (Posada, Jeter, Williams, Rivera), who should have been the Core Five (had Brien Taylor made it). But, more importantly, it was the era of Gene Michael as general manager and Buck Showalter as manager, an they are really the stars of this story. Michael sought players with the best on-base-percentage and Showalter forged a new Yankee identity and culture.
The author pulled from a wide array of interviews and other sources, some contemporary and some recently recorded. In the end it's a rags to riches tale complete with good guys and bad guys, tragedy and comedy. And for baseball fans from any city, the list of names provide a time machine within itself, offering safe transport back to the mid-90s, mostly pre-steroid era.