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Change-Up: Mystery at the World Series

Change-Up: Mystery at the World Series

4.2 33
by John Feinstein

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New York Times bestselling sportswriter John Feinstein takes readers behind the scenes at the World Series in this exciting baseball mystery.
When teen sports reporters Stevie and Susan Carol are sent to cover the World Series, the talk of the tournament is Norbert Doyle—a late call-up for an underdog team. But the more they learn


New York Times bestselling sportswriter John Feinstein takes readers behind the scenes at the World Series in this exciting baseball mystery.
When teen sports reporters Stevie and Susan Carol are sent to cover the World Series, the talk of the tournament is Norbert Doyle—a late call-up for an underdog team. But the more they learn about him, the more conflicting stories they hear. Bit by bit they piece together the shocking truth about this rising star, but once the secret’s out, there’s no going back. . . .
John Feinstein has been praised as “the best writer of sports books in America today” (The Boston Globe), and he proves it again in this fast-paced novel.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Teen reporters Stevie Thomas and Susan Carol Anderson might have the scoop of this year's World Series. While interviewing a young star hurler, they gain an inkling that the story he's pitching might not be entirely the truth. What, they wonder, is he covering up? Is it a scandal, some past crime, or perhaps just an embarrassing family secret? As they probe his background, they learn a few things too about ethics and the human side of sports.
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
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
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)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sports Beat
Sold by:
Random House
Sales rank:
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

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. Guzman dove 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.


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.

The auxiliary press box was down the left-field line, and Stevie and Susan Carol had seen Zimmerman's shot go right past them heading out of the park. As 41,888 people went crazy, they had joined other members of the media who were scrambling to get down to the field and the clubhouses.

There had been no point trying to squeeze onto the elevators, so they had dashed to the ramps--which weren't too crowded, because most of the fans were still standing at their seats, celebrating. The Nationals were on the field, spraying one another with champagne--which someone had brought out from their clubhouse to allow them to _celebrate in front of the fans--so the media was directed down the tunnel to the home dugout and stood just outside the dugout watching the celebration.
"I guess when you go seventy-six years between championships, you're entitled to go a little crazy," a voice shouted behind Stevie.

He turned and saw Bobby Kelleher, his friend and mentor, standing there with a wide grin on his face. Kelleher, a columnist for the Washington Herald, had been sitting in the main press box and had apparently just reached the field.

"Is Walter Johnson smiling somewhere?" Stevie asked Kelleher, referring to the Hall of Fame pitcher who had been the Washington Senators' star in the 1920s and their manager when a Washington baseball team last played in the World Series--in 1933.

"My guess is someone will claim to have spoken to him by tomorrow morning," Kelleher said, still shouting because the noise had abated only a little bit. "It's hard for people to understand how remarkable this is. Washington's always been a town that either had no baseball or played bad baseball."

Not one but two teams had left Washington--the original Senators left town in 1961 to move to Minnesota; then an expansion version fled to Texas ten years later.

"Where'd Susan Carol go?" Kelleher asked.

"Mets clubhouse," Stevie said.

"Figures," Kelleher said. "She's always willing to take on the tough jobs. That's where Tamara went too. I have to write the Nats. I mean, seventy-six years without a pennant. Not to mention that this team lost a hundred and two games a year ago."

Tamara Mearns was Kelleher's wife, a columnist for the Washington Post. The two of them had taken Stevie and Susan Carol under their wing when the teenagers won a writing contest and were awarded press credentials to the Final Four in New Orleans.

That was a weekend that had changed Stevie and Susan Carol's lives forever. They had gotten off to a rocky start: the wise-guy kid from Philadelphia clashing with the seemingly wide-eyed Southern belle from a small town in North Carolina. But they had stumbled into a plot to blackmail a star player and had worked together to nail the bad guys, starting them on what had often been a bumpy road to media stardom.

From the Hardcover edition.

Meet the Author

John Feinstein is the author of many bestselling books. He lives in Potomac, Maryland, and Shelter Island, New York.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Change-Up 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 33 reviews.
Brandon2215 More than 1 year ago
This book was a GREAT book. I am a huge sports fan especially baseball. This book gave has many turns which make me want to keep reading the book. The ending of the book was very surprising and makes me want to read it again. I recomend this book to anyone that wants to read a good book. I recomend this book for people who have at least a little bit of an understanding of baseball. This book gets two thumbs up from me
semyhre More than 1 year ago
I think Change-Up is a very good book it's challenging but fun. I love to read John Feinstein's books. I am a huge Nationals fan so I loved the book even more cause it had my favorite teams in it, and my favorite player Ryan Zimmerman. I think the story of Norbert Doyle with not being the most successful pitcher in the minors then getting called up is cool,I think a lot of players could probaly relate to that. But the fact that he plays in the World Series is cooler and that he wins the final game that's amazing. I like how Steve & Carol Anderson get lots of clues that lead them in all different directions about Doyle's past. This is a very good book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Have you ever read a sports mystery that also has a romance mystery inside of it? Well I have this book is about a pitcher who has been traded around and gets a start in the World Series and shuts the other team out. Then Susan Carol meets with his son for lunch. She falls in love with him, but she is going out with Steven. Steven asks her what happened and she won't answer and then Steven goes to the pitcher's home town and finds out some weird things about the pitcher's wife's death. Will Steven and Susan Carol stay together and will Steven find out how the pitcher's wife died? Read Change-up and you will find out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I give the book Change-up by John Feinstein three out of five stars. I chose to give it a five because it was exciting at parts of the book to me because I like baseball but right after that short good part there was a long boring part. This book was about a kid named steven who was 14 years old and a great writer. In the book he wrote for the Washington Herald because he lived in Washington D.C. he got to write in the washington herald but his girlfriend susan-carol who wrote in the Washington Post was better. the book said he was jealous because susan-carol was better than him at everything and on top of that really beautiful. He met a guy on the nationals whose dream came true in the world series when no one was expecting it. I would suggest this book to anyone who likes both statistics and baseball.
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Great follow-up to rest of series
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