Arnie Barzov, 19, is thrown out of the University of Illinois for making book on Big Ten basketball games--the time is the mid-1950s. So Arnie returns home to Chicago, where he keeps a wary yet fond distance from his sexy mom Myrna (an ""Abbe Lane lookalike"")--while supporting himself by playing cards and the horses and betting on baseball. And baseball is indeed a hot topic in Chicago that summer: the Cubs are winning, they even seem to be barrelling towards a pennant. But there's a secret fix in the works among the Cubs--who hate their Steinbrennerish owner and intend to throw the pennant, making their own fortunes. How does Arnie find all this out? Well, when he falls in love with Chinese hooker Kim, he meets nightclub singer Angie--whose boyfriend is a Cub. Furthermore, mom Myrna has meanwhile become enamored of the Cubs' manager, Spieler La Chance, who's in on the fix. . . but who then pulls out, influenced by Arnie and Myrna and his own self-respect. First-novelist Pomeranz delivers this screenplay-thin tale in style-less, sometimes subliterate narration. (""Her brains were churning again. She was torn by the idea, wanted to do it, wanted to talk me out of it. She heard herself saying, like her conscience got the best of her; 'No, Arnie, you no do it. I no let you.' "") And the result is a hokey, crude, predictable fable--designed for Cubs fans but lacking the ballpark flavor you'll find in dozens of other baseball novels.