If you manage to buy the premise of this baseball novel-a greedy Steinbrenner-like owner of the New York Yankees ditches his high-salaried, low-scoring players and replaces them with a crew of Cuban all-stars handpicked by Castro as part of some grand foreign-policy aperture-you are rewarded with a surprisingly entertaining novel. Veteran novelist and sportswriter Granger (The November Man) adroitly moves the zany events at top speed with just the right dialogue to make the scenario funny and vivid. Just when 38-year-old reliever Ryan Shawn reckons it's time to hang up his cleats, his crazed owner, George Bremenhaven, offers him a new deal: translate for (and eventually manage) the 24 Cuban kids set to replace the Yankees. Ryan grudgingly accepts the offer-and steps into a nest of deceit and government intrigue characterized by the mysterious harassment of those around him. When the tabloid-dubbed ``Yanquis'' make a run for the pennant, the pressure mounts-from the government, who would prefer they not win; from Bremenhaven, who insists they must; and from Castro, who holds Ryan responsible for the athletes' well-being. Though Ryan may strike some readers as an unlikely hero-a milquetoast drafted to leading-man status-that's all part of the fun in this sportive romp. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/03/1995 Release date: 04/01/1995 Genre: Fiction
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