Change-Up: Mystery at the World Series

Change-Up: Mystery at the World Series

4.2 33
by John Feinstein

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A behind-the-scenes mystery at the World Series from bestseller John Feinstein.

Bestselling author, journalist, and Edgar Award winner John Feinstein is back with another high-stakes sports mystery. Teen reporters Stevie Thomas and Susan Carol Anderson are covering baseball's World Series, and during the course of an interview with a new hot pitcher, they

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A behind-the-scenes mystery at the World Series from bestseller John Feinstein.

Bestselling author, journalist, and Edgar Award winner John Feinstein is back with another high-stakes sports mystery. Teen reporters Stevie Thomas and Susan Carol Anderson are covering baseball's World Series, and during the course of an interview with a new hot pitcher, they discover more than a few contradictions in his life story. What's he hiding? An embarrassing secret? A possible crime? Let the investigation begin!

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Nancy Pierce
Teens Stevie Thomas and Susan Carol Anderson are back on the newspaper sports beat, this time at the World Series. Veteran reporters, they have access to athletes and locker rooms to get the stories fans want to read, and it seems that Stevie has hit it big when he interviews Norbert Doyle, a pitcher for the Washington Nationals. Doyle has never made it big in baseball, but he is about to. Doyle gets to start the first game of the Series and becomes the biggest feel-good story in baseball. As Stevie digs for more material for his story, he finds out there is more to Doyle than he first thought. While covering the Series, Stevie tries to also uncover the truth of Doyle's past, and then must decide if it is something the world really needs to know. Readers will appreciate the sports details and real-life characters Feinstein includes throughout the novel. He provides enough background of the sport so even non-baseball fans can appreciate the action. It is not the drama of the World Series or baseball as much as the mystery of Doyle's past that moves the book forward, as Stevie and Susan Carol interact with Doyle's teenage twins and visit his former hometown to get at the truth. Yet readers never forget that Stevie and Susan Carol are newspaper reporters as they grapple with deadlines, sources, ethics, and the power of the press. This book is an enjoyable trifecta of sports, mystery and journalism for young readers. Reviewer: Nancy Pierce
Children's Literature - Candice Ransom
Cub reporter Stevie Thomas has covered the Final Four, the Super Bowl, the NBA finals, and the U.S. Open in both tennis and golf—and he is only fourteen. With his partner and girlfriend, Susan Carol, the next assignment is the World Series, with the unlikely Nationals pitted against the Red Sox. Stevie wins an interview with Norbert Doyle, a minor league player who had no hopes of making it to the majors, much less as starting pitcher for the Nationals in the World Series. After his wife's death in a car crash, Doyle is raising their twin teenagers, David and Morra. As Stevie examines the facts of Doyle's life, he finds parts do not ring true. What secret are the twins hiding? Why is Susan Carol spending so much time with David Doyle? And what really transpired the night Norbert Doyle's wife died? Sports fans will relish Feinstein's authentic details. A well-known sports columnist, Feinstein's zesty style gives readers close-up views of the baseball world from the pitcher's mound to the locker room. Stevie grapples with the truth and the ethics issue of where to draw the line between journalism and the invasion of privacy. A solid mystery grounded in the game, lightened with a slight romance—this one hits a home run with sports fans. Reviewer: Candice Ransom
School Library Journal
Gr 6–9—In previous books, teenage sportswriters Stevie Thomas and Susan Carol Anderson exposed a scheme to throw a game in the NCAA basketball tournament, unraveled a kidnapping plot at the U.S. Tennis Open, and uncovered a steroid scandal at the Super Bowl. Now they are assigned to cover the World Series, where the underdog Washington Nationals are meeting the Boston Red Sox. While checking out the Cinderella story of the 38-year-old Nationals' rookie pitcher, Norbert Doyle, the friends discover a shadowy incident in the man's past. Although Doyle, his children, and especially his agent attempt to deceive, manipulate, and intimidate them, in the end the two reporters base their decision about running the story on the good it would do versus the harm it would cause. As in the other books in the series, Feinstein brings his insider's knowledge of sports to bear, with good effect. The inclusion of real-life sports and media figures along with fictional characters is likely to appeal to knowledgeable fans. For libraries in which the other books have proven popular.—Richard Luzer, Fair Haven Union High School, VT
Kirkus Reviews
Fourteen-year-old sports columnists Stevie Thomas and Susan Carol Anderson begin freshman year with a close-up look at a dramatic wild-card National League Championship final and then at the World Series between Boston and Washington, D.C. When a player who's come up from the minors in a late-season trade pitches a near no-hitter in game two, the mystery and personal tragedy in his past become the story Stevie pursues. Feinstein trots out an array of familiar personalities and offers a look at the way that the players, Major League Baseball and the media interact. He winks editorially about everything and everyone from Tony Kornheiser to the deficiencies in the new Nationals stadium. But the dogged running to earth of the pitcher's story is the real focus, far more than the game of baseball, which is seen only in glimpses. While Stevie and Susan Carol's unlimited freedom stretches credulity more than a bit and nuanced relationships and glimpses of dugout grit are in short supply, fans of the series will enjoy another inside scoop. (Mystery. 12-14)

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Steve Thomas & Susan Carol Anderson Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
7.68(w) x 5.22(h) x 0.78(d)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

JOHN FEINSTEIN is the author of many bestselling books, including A Season on the Brink and A Good Walk Spoiled. His books for young readers offer a winning combination of sports, action, and intrigue, with Last Shot receiving the Edgar Allan Poe Award for best young adult mystery of the year. He lives in Potomac, Maryland, and Shelter Island, New York, with his family.

Read an Excerpt


Even though he was only fourteen years old, Stevie Thomas considered himself a veteran of sports victory celebrations. He had been to the Final Four, the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals, and the U.S. Open—in both tennis and golf. He had seen remarkable endings,miracle shots, and improbable last-second heroics.   But he hadn't seen anything quite like this. He was standing just outside the first-base dugout inside Nationals Park, the home stadium for the Washington Nationals, and even though the game had been over for several minutes, the noise was still so loud he couldn't hear anything Susan Carol Anderson was shouting in his ear.  

"Mets . . . clubhouse . . . press box . . . ," he managed to make out over the din. Since she was starting to pick her way through the celebrating Nationals and the media swarm surrounding them, he guessed that she had told him that she was going to make her way to the clubhouse of the New York Mets and then meet him back in the press box. She was taking the harder job—talking to the players on a team that had just suffered a shocking defeat. His job was easier: talking to the winners.  

The ending of the game had been stunning. With the National League Championship Series tied at three games all, both teams had sent their star pitchers out to pitch game seven: Johan Santana for the Mets, John Lannan for the Nationals. Both had pitched superbly, and the game had gone to the ninth inning tied at 1-1.  

Nationals manager Manny Acta brought Joel Hanrahan, his closer, in to pitch the ninth, a bold move in a tie game. And it seemed to have backfired when Carlos Beltran hit a two-out, two-run home run to give the Mets a 3-1 lead. In came the Mets' closer, Francisco (K-Rod) Rodriguez, to get the last three outs needed to give the Mets the pennant.   He got two quick outs, and it wasn't looking good for the Nats when shortstop Cristian Guzman hit a weak ground ball. But somehow Mets all-star shortstop Jose Reyes booted it, allowing Guzman to make it safely to first base. Clearly upset and distracted by the error, Rodriguez then walked Ronnie Belliard, bringing Ryan Zimmerman, the Nationals' best hitter, to the plate.  

Guzman began dancing off second base, stretching his lead each time Rodriguez looked back at him. Second baseman Luis Castillo kept flashing toward the bag, as if expecting a pickoff throw from Rodriguez. Sitting in the auxiliary press box, Stevie was wearing headphones that allowed him to hear the Fox telecast.  

"Rodriguez and Castillo need to forget about Guzman," he heard Tim McCarver say. "Right now K-Rod has one job, and that's to get Zimmerman out."  

"But if the Nats double-steal, the tying runs would both be in scoring position," play-by-play man Joe Buck said.  

"True," McCarver said. "But I'm telling you, there is no way Guzman is risking making the last out of the season trying to steal third. He's not that much of a base stealer to begin with."  

Rodriguez finally focused on the plate and threw a 97-mph fastball that Zimmerman just watched go by for strike one. Again Guzman danced off second base. This time Rodriguez whirled and did make a pickoff throw as Castillo darted in to take it. Guzmandove back in safely.  

"That tells me Guzman has gotten inside K-Rod's head," McCarver said. "You don't risk a pickoff throw in this situation. The only man in the ballpark he should care about right now is Zimmerman."  

Rodriguez threw another fastball, and Zimmerman fouled it straight back to the screen.  

"That one was ninety-seven too," Buck said. "He doesn't seem too distracted."  

"Zimmerman was about two inches from crushing that ball," McCarver said. "You see a batter foul a fastball straight back like that, it means he just missed it."  

Rodriguez came to his set position again. Guzman was off the bag once more and Rodriguez stepped off the rubber. Everyone relaxed for a moment.  

"Zimmerman has to look for a fastball here, doesn't he?" Buck said.  

"Absolutely."   Rodriguez set again, checked Guzman one more time, and threw. Stevie glanced at the spot on the scoreboard that showed pitch speed, and saw 98. Rodriguez had thrown a fastball, and Zimmerman had in fact been looking fastball. This time he didn't miss it. He got it. He got all of it. The ball rose majestically into the air and sailed in the direction of the left-field fence. Mets left fielder Daniel Murphy never moved. The ball sailed way over the fence, deep into the night, and complete bedlam broke out in every corner of the stadium. The Nationals had won the game 4-3 and the series 4-3. Shockingly, they were going to the World Series.

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