Joe Lavin

May 2005

From Boston Sports Review

Red Sox Book Reviews

"Idiot: Beating The Curse and Enjoying the Game of Life" by Johnny Damon
4 stars out of 4

In this literary tour-de-force, Johnny Damon takes time off from his baseball dominance to present an exciting look inside the 2004 Red Sox team that finally overcame the hated Yankees and won the World Series. Overall, it is an excellent book. Would you expect anything less from our own personal Jesus? The only problem is that he seems to have nice things to say about everyone. While that is perfectly acceptable when discussing the Red Sox, one wishes he could have had more nasty things to say about the stupid Yankees. At one point, he calls Jason Giambi one of his best friends when we all know that Giambi is really just a jerk.

Still, this remains an outstanding book about one of the best moments ever. Everyone on the team should have a book contract. I very much look forward to a sequel next year after the Sox pummel the Yankees again.

"Winning" by Jack Welch
0 stars out of 4

I accidentally bought this book thinking it was about the Red Sox, and can you blame me? How can a book be called Winning and not be about Boston's dramatic World Series victory last year? And yet former General Electric CEO Jack Welch has somehow accomplished this in his latest business book. In this lackluster effort, we are stuck reading about Welch's long career at GE when instead we could be reading about David Ortiz's historic walk-off hits against the Yankees last fall. I always thought that Jack Welch was a Bostonian, but after reading his attempt to analyze so-called "winning" while barely mentioning the 2004 Sox, it's clear that he's really a New Yorker at heart.

"A Tale of Two Cities: The 2004 Yankees-Red Sox Rivalry and the War for the Pennant" by Tony Massarotti and John Harper
2 stars out of 4

At first glance, the premise for this seems clever. Boston writer Tony Massarotti and New York writer John Harper join to recount the historic 2004 baseball season from the perspective of both the Red Sox and the Yankees. But, on second thought, really who cares what the Yankees think? Frankly, the parts of the book about the Yankees suck just as much as the Yankees themselves do. Personally, I plan to go back to the bookstore and demand half my money back.

"The Da Vinci Code" by Dan Brown
0 stars out of four

All this talk about Christ, and not one mention of Johnny Damon? I have just one word for this supposed work of literature: disappointing.

"Faithful: Two Diehard Boston Red Sox Fans Chronicle the Historic 2004 Season" by Stewart O'Nan and Stephen King
2 1/2 stars out of 4

While not as bad as "The Da Vinci Code" or "Winning," this book is still somewhat lacking. With e-mail correspondence and journal entries, horror maven Stephen King and novelist Stewart O'Nan help us to relive the 2004 season, but what makes these two guys so special? I've never heard of Stewart O'Nan (Has he even written about the Red Sox before?), and while I enjoyed Stephen King's "The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon" (He should write a sequel called "The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon Pitching to David Ortiz!"), his other work seems all too often to ignore the Red Sox.

Frankly, I think e-mails between my buddies and me would make just as good a book. We may not be masters of horror like Stephen King, but we did live through Dent, Buckner, and Boone. Shouldn't that count for something?

"Fever Pitch" by Nick Hornby
1/2 star out of four

How depressing to discover that this book had nothing whatsoever to do with the Red Sox! Despite the misleading advertising from the movie of the same name, this book is about soccer of all things. Who wants to read about that?

Hornby's tale of his devotion to the English football club Arsenal is not at all remarkable. For example, in one scene, Hornby's girlfriend faints at a football match, and he asks his friend to take her to the hospital so that he can stay behind to watch the end of the game. Hornby acts as if this is somehow strange, but really that's the sort of decision that depends on the game situation. If it's a close game and your buddy is willing to leave the game to take care of your girlfriend for you, then that's a win-win situation. Hornby dwells on similar episodes, as if there is something special about his fanaticism, whereas many of us are just as devoted to our teams, if not more so.

Luckily, Hollywood has made a movie based on the book and sensibly replaced all the dreadful soccer with Red Sox baseball. Why can't there be more forward thinking like this in Hollywood? Unfortunately, though, the story has been morphed into some piece of romance. Whole minutes go by without any baseball whatsoever. Sure, Drew Barrymore is cute, but frankly she is taking away valuable screen time from the true stars of this film, the 2004 Boston Red Sox. Somehow, the moviemakers have taken the single greatest moment in sports history and turned it into some sort of chick flick. What a disappointing waste of an amazing story!

©2005 Joe Lavin

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