INTRODUCTION

Rick and Izzy

Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical.

—YOGI BERRA

It’s October 11, 2001, and the Oakland A’s are playing the New York Yankees in Game 2 of the opening round of the American League Playoffs. Nearly 57,000 raucous fans are in attendance at Yankee Stadium, with a TV audience of 11 million.

Tim Hudson, the A’s starting pitcher, has been nothing less than brilliant. He’s staked the A’s to a 2–0 lead. But it’s the bottom of the 9th inning, and the situation for Oakland grows particularly nerve-racking. Hudson no longer pitches. On the mound, trying to finish the game, is the A’s closer, Jason “Izzy” Isringhausen.

Last season, in his first full season as a closer, Izzy made the American League All-Star ...

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