(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

This book’s commercial success has been guaranteed by its notoriety prior to publication. For those who thrive on controversy, spring training 1988 was highlighted by a running feud between the book’s author, Dave Winfield, right-fielder for the New York Yankees, and George Steinbrenner, the team’s owner. As the book’s content became known, Steinbrenner became displeased with his portrayal and the book’s suggestion that the Yankee organization might be subtly racist. Steinbrenner encouraged Willie Randolph, the black second baseman of the Yankees, to deny statements attributed to him in the book, then called Winfield a liar and tried to trade his rightfielder to a locale as close to Siberia as possible. Buoyed by a guaranteed contract and the five-to-ten year rule protecting veteran players from trades, Winfield stood his ground and got off to a super start in the regular season.

Why should Winfield bother to get upset? With Steinbrenner’s help, the thirty-six-year-old Winfield will have picked up some quick cash for a book that would have earned little attention on its own merit.

Despite Steinbrenner’s outrage, the book’s problem is not one of credibility. Winfield may have remembered some things selectively, but no more so than is common in a typical sport autobiography. Steinbrenner, in particular, is enough of a public personality so that his treatment by Winfield can be measured against the image the Yankee owner has...

(The entire section is 447 words.)