The Eddie Kranepool Society

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


I received a copy of Charles Euchner's new book THE LAST NINE INNINGS and I have to say it is quite a good read.

This is a book for the thinking baseball fan as Euchner looks at every facet of the game. From the on field aspect of hitting, pitching and defense. To the stratigic role of the manager. To the ever expanding world of sabermetrics and the globalization of baseball. and as if that was not enough for you to absorb all this is laid out to the reader with Game 7 of the 2001 World Series as a backdrop.

Just as I was reading the introduction alone I was struck by this passage that made me close the book for a moment and give this question some serious thought:

{If statistics are but cold indicators of performance, how can we move inward and understand the psyches of players? What inner traits do winners have? How do players like the Yankees' Paul O'Neil and Bernie Williams and the Diamondbacks Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling show about the psychology of elite performance?

At a time when so much of the game is reduced to scientific examination and action, I also wondered why the best players seemed to come from Latin America. If we have become a nation of superkids with superparents who hire supercoaches and use videos and stats ans scientific research to teach throwing, hitting, running and sliding to the privileged scions of the American dream, why do so many great and innovative players come from places where bats need to be carved out of tree trunks?}

I must have spent an hour thinking over that passage. It reminded me of something Bob Hurley the ledgendary basketball coach at St. Anthony's of Jersey City said about suburban ball players calling them "Driveway Warriors" these are kids who never go to the schoolyards to refine their game and to give them the necessary toughness to compete on the bigger stage and that's why Hurley never went for that kind of player.

As I said Euchner goes on and uncovers more of the game in this book than any other baseball book I've read.

If you really want to read about the debates in baseball pick up The Last Nine Innings. It's worth the investment.

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