The manager of the Cleveland Indians struggles with a decision that could harm his best player - and himself. Howie Traveler, a former minor league baseball prospect (with a very short stint in the majors), becomes the manager of the Cleveland Indians. His best player is Cuban-American slugger Jay Alcazar. During a trip to Baltimore to face the Orioles, Howie is returning to his room when the door to Alcazar's room flies open. A woman, looking panicked, sees Howie but, before either of them can react, Alcazar wraps his arms around her and pulls her back into the room, shutting the door on Howie. Howie knows Alcazar fairly well, and doesn't believe the star could ever rape a woman - yet the force with which Alcazar pulled the woman back into the room suggests otherwise. Howie also knows that Alcazar has changed since the previous year, becoming more sullen, withdrawn, different, but Howie doesn't know why. As the Indians get set to play the Orioles again, the general manager for the Indians tells Howie that the woman has reported Alcazar to the police. This is both a blessing and a curse for Howie, since, in only his second year as manager, he was on the "hot seat," meaning his job as manager was in jeopardy. With the allegations against Alcazar, however, the Indians are unwilling to make a change, but Howie knows that they have another candidate for the job lined up and ready to go. The police interview Howie, and he lies to them, saying he didn't see anything. The woman tells the police that she saw a man in the hallway, but the police don't know who it was. Feeling guilty after his interview with the police, Howie tells his story to the general manager of the Indians, and says he hasn't decided whether or not he will tell the police. On their last day in Baltimore, a woman comes to Howie's room, and it's pretty clear that they both recognize each other - it's the woman who was in Alcazar's room. She moves into Howie's room and tells her side of the story. She tells Howie that, after a few drinks in the hotel bar, she went back to Alcazar's room, where she eventually changed her mind about sleeping with Alcazar. It was then that Alcazar started to grab her and force himself on her, but she made it to the door, only to have Alcazar pull her back in and rape her. After her story, Howie is still unsure about her motives or, indeed, if she is actually telling the truth - it still doesn't sound like the Alcazar he knows. Unable to make a decision and still wrestling with guilt, Howie calls his daughter, Lindsay, who is a lawyer in Washington, DC. Lindsay immediately drives to Baltimore and tells her father not to do anything before she can talk to Alcazar herself. At first, Alcazar is wary, but Lindsay tells him her own story - how she was raped in college, an event that led her to quit school for a while. Alcazar opens up to her with his own story. Born in Cuba, Alcazar was whisked out of the country by his aunt, who brought him to his uncle in the United States. His uncle raised him, and Jay called the man his father. After a long time, Jay's uncle told him that his mother was still alive in Cuba. During the offseason, Jay visited his mother in Cuba, believing that he could take her out of the country and make a new life for her in the United States. But, for some reason unfathomable to Jay, she decided to stay in Cuba. It was a massive blow to him, a blow that caused the changes Howie noted. Alcazar goes on to tell Lindsay that he did not rape the woman in his hotel room that night. After drinks in the bar he asked if she wanted some coffee upstairs, and once they were together in the room he asked her to perform oral sex on him. When she refused and moved to leave, Alcazar pulled her back into the room. But he insists that he didn't force himself on her at all - once they were back in the room, he just sat and talked to her until, eventually, he made another move on her. This time, he and the woman had sex. Afterward, Alcazar tried to give her some money to buy herself something, and the woman thought that he was giving her the money like he was paying a prostitute. Lindsay believes Alcazar, and tells him as much - but also wants something in exchange for her father keeping his story to himself. Jay promises to talk to the general manager for the Indians and threaten to go to another team if they fired Howie. Lindsay goes back to Howie and tells him that she believes Alcazar's story. Her belief is good enough for Howie, who finally decides to keep his knowledge of the events to himself. Afterward, Howie is surprised when the Indians agree to give him another year in the job, but he has no idea why they suddenly flipped from their previous position.
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Best part of story, including ending:
A baseball story at its heart, the book also deals with major issues - rape, the reverence which the general population affords major stars such as athletes, and the upheavals in Cuba and how it affected several generations of people inside and out of the Caribbean nation.
Best scene in story:
The chapters detailing Alcazar's trip to Cuba detail a convoluted, sad story of how Alcazar's father was imprisoned by Castro, how Alcazar's mother didn't know that Alcazar's aunt was going to take him away, and how his real father tried to escape from prison and lost his life in the process. The chapters solve the mystery of Alcazar's personality changes while making him a sympathetic character. They also place his capability to commit rape in serious doubt.
Opinion about the main character:
In some ways, Howie is not a good person - he repeatedly cheated on his wife when he was on the road as both a player and a manager, and after the allegations against Alcazar come out, he struggles with balancing his morals against the best interests of his team - and his own best interests, especially where his job is concerned.