Posted: Friday April 29, 2005 9:53AM; Updated: Monday May 2, 2005 11:18AM
The Yankees' season reached its nadir, however, when Martin removed Jackson from a game in Fenway Park on June 18 in the middle of an inning, believing that Jackson loafed after a ball in right field. The two nearly came to blows in the dugout, with NBC Game of the Week cameras capturing it all.
That blowup was fairly tame compared to the unrest gripping the city that summer. On the steamy night of July 13, the city's lights went out, touching off a long night of looting and arson that reached all five boroughs. There were 1,037 fires, 1,616 damaged and/or looted stores, and 3,776 people arrested. After several years of municipal cutbacks caused by a severe fiscal crisis, the city had seemed ready to blow. When the lights went out, it finally did.
Have a question or opinion for Pete? He might answer/address it in his mailbag.
Wisely, Mahler lets the baseball action fade to the background for this section of the narrative. That leaves more room to meet the politicians fighting for City Hall, especially longshots mayoral candidates Ed Koch and Mario Cuomo, who ended up in a run-off for the Democratic nomination that Koch won. Mahler also traces the newspaper war inspired by Rupert Murdoch, the Australian mogul who bought the formerly sleepy, liberal New York Post in late 1976 and turned it into a loud, freewheeling tabloid.
The Yankees got it together to reach the World Series, though the fraying fabric of the city was never far from view. During Game 2, an abandoned school near Yankee Stadium caught fire in what became a five-alarm blaze, leading ABC's Howard Cosell to utter the famous line that became the book's title.
Mahler makes his two-pronged approach pay off, linking Koch, Jackson, Steinbrenner and Murdoch together as the type of men who would lead New York to a new day: "They were flawed, farsighted, self-made men who intuitively understood the city's desire for drama and conflict because they shared it. They were not idealists but egomaniacs."
Jackson caps the memorable season by clubbing three home runs on consecutive pitches in the Game 6 clincher against the Dodgers. As this book reminds us, though, the journey -- for the team and its city -- was much more interesting and complicated than even the most spectacular finish.