Granger (Drover and the Designated Hitter, 1994, etc.) takes time out from his Drover and November Man series to offer a plodding, talky baseball fantasy. It's the near-future, and George Bremenhaven, hateful owner of the New York Yankees, has cleared his floundering baseball team's roster of its highly paid talent. With the connivance of sinister State Department officials, George induces the economically disadvantaged Fidel Castro to draft two dozen young Cuban players to replace the club's handsomely compensated also-rans. The sole Anglo to survive this purge is Ryan Shawn, an almost over-the-hill relief pitcher who narrates the sorry tale in the ruefully self- conscious style of a half-smart rube auditioning for a Dan Jenkins novel. A native of West Texas, Ryan has been retained because he speaks serviceable Spanish and tightfisted George considers him controllable. But egged on by Charlene Cleaver, an eccentric Houston nutritionist with whom he's romantically involved, Ryan proves appreciably less compliant than anticipated. Although named manager of the Bronx Bombers (a.k.a. ``Yanquis'' by fans who revile the expatriate players as communists), he bucks his boss at every opportunity. Nor does Ryan accommodate the government hard cases who want to keep the US numero uno in the Caribbean, albeit not at the cost of pinstriped spics beating Americans at their own game. In time, of course, the homesick Latino rookies get their act together and win the pennant. Ryan even hurls a no-hitter in relief of a starter who has been ejected for inciting a brawl. Before these anticlimactic triumphs (and George's comeuppance), however, there are extra innings of whiny yak about greed, lost loves, aging athletes, generation gaps, political incorrectness, and other of the national pastime's unsuspected aspects. Good field; no hit. Granger's fable never quite lives up to the antic promise of its imaginative premise.