Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Magical, Idiotic 2004 Red Sox Season

Book number 8 was "Now I Can Die In Peace: How ESPN's Sports Guy Found Salvation, With a Little Help From Nomar, Pedro, Shawshank and the 2004 Red Sox" by Bill Simmons. This book is a reprinting of articles the author wrote, with the addition of footnotes that sometimes explain a reference or express his feelings about writing a particular segment. It was worth reading for two reasons: 1) It's about the Boston Red Sox winning their first World Series after an 86 year drought in 2004 and 2)It's incredibly humorous.

If you're a Red Sox fan, you know the story of 2004 and what led up to it. The book goes back over the details starting in October 1998. It was fun to look back and remember the instances Bill Simmons is writing about. It felt wonderful to remember Pedro as the guy that was a guaranteed win, Nomar as the guy you could count on to hit and El Guapo for being known as El Guapo. It was reassuring to read that I wasn't the only person who called Everett "Crazy Carl" or that I thought no city Clemens played for really respected him after he turned his back on them. It's also great to read about the things I didn't know about or couldn't understand since I'm a long-distance Red Sox fan and don't get the daily barrage of the Boston media scene.

The humor is not just in how Mr. Simmons writes about the team, but the references he adds to his articles. He mentions Rocky IV, the New England Patriots, old Italian superstitions, and of course, Shawshank Redemption. And it makes complete sense when he does it!

He is also able to capture the pain of being a Red Sox fan. He describes the heart-wrenching 1986 World Series from the perspective of a kid. He brought back painful memories of Game Seven of the 2003 ALCS. For me, it was like it was happening all over again: How could Grady leave Pedro in there?? Then the Aaron Boone homerun off of Wakefield. It played in my mind so easily as I read about it and it hurt just as much as it did back then.

Mr. Simmons is definitely a regular "sports guy" and it creates a natural connection with the reader. It was like he was talking to me, telling me the stories of how everything happened and how he felt about it as it occurred. I never felt talked down to or that he was claiming to be an "expert". He is simple a fan, just like me.

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