April 04, 2005 at 04:00 AM EDT

We gave it a B

If there was ever a fair time for the Yankees to win the World Series,” says former third baseman Scott Brosius, ”that was the year.” It was 2001, the year the entire country was rooting for the oft-reviled Bronx Bombers in the weeks following 9/11. (Make that the entire country minus Arizona, whose Diamondbacks eventually emerged victorious.) The bitter-sweet Nine Innings from Ground Zero, featuring fans who lost family members, sportswriters (including Newsday‘s Shaun Powell, whose brother perished in the Pentagon attack), and beleaguered firefighters, shows how the sport became a sort of panacea. (How badly did New Yorkers need their baseball? Mayor Giuliani — a famously fervent Yankee fan — actually attended a Mets game.) And if you lack confidence in the commander-in-chief, witness George W. Bush’s perfect pitch to kick off game 3 at Yankee Stadium. The president recalls receiving a helpful tip from shortstop Derek Jeter: ”Don’t bounce it. They’ll boo ya.”

EXTRAS A strikeout — zilch! For a future special edition, Billy Crystal — a lifelong Yankee fan and part owner of the Diamondbacks — would deliver a home-run commentary.

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