Friday, June 21, 2013
The Red Sox Fan Handbook
I do have hobbies other than collecting baseball cards. I also collect records, tapes, etc. I posted about that here. Another one of my hobbies is reading. I am one of those people who will probably never get a Kindle or anything like that unless it is required by law. I'd rather hold a book in my hands and as much as I can appreciate how much space you would save reading e-books, a full bookcase is comforting to me.
I also have a tendency to buy way more books and subscribe to way more magazines that I could ever possibly read. This would explain why I have an issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly dated March 2007 in the "reading room". (Did you know that Major League Baseball 2K7 is coming out soon?)
Anyways, I just finished reading this book. The above paragraph should explain to you why in 2013 I just finished reading the 2005 edition of this book.
So first of all, if you are a Red Sox fan, you need to get this book. It is extremely informative (and at over 350 pages, that's a lot of information), and it spans the entire Red Sox history. Well, at least up to 2005.
The book starts of with a short history of the Red Sox beginning in 1901 when they were called the Boston Americans (they didn't become the Red Sox until December 1907), up through the aftermath of the 2004 World Series Championship.
Even though intially they were a good team (winning the very first World Series in 1903), after selling off most of their players to the New York Yankees (in fact, there were 11 former Red Sox on the Yankees first World Series championship team in 1923), they were absolutely awful through most of the 20's and 30's, finishing last 9 times between 1922 and 1932.
In 1933, Tom Yawkey bought the Red Sox. They would not finish last again until 1992 (ironically the year his wife Jean Yawkey, would pass away).
The book also includes a list of "the players who are most talked about - the heroes and villians and cult favorites and quirkiest players who have appeared with the Boston Red Sox in the last 100 years." Included is everyone from Dwayne Hosey to Herb Pennock to Dwight Evans to Babe Ruth. This section encompasses the majority of the book, and even if you are a die-hard Red Sox fan, you are sure to learn about players you had never heard of and reminded of players you had forgotten about.
You'll also read an assortment of interesting quotes said by or about the Red Sox over the years, as well as a description of the "Fenway Experience". You'll learn where to sit, where to eat, what to look for, how to get tickets (as of 2005, of course).
There's also a question and answer section as well. If you've ever wondered how they figure out a player's OPS or what salary arbitraiton is, you definitely will not want to skip over this part.
You'll also find a section devoted to the Red Sox minor league affilliates, including the top prospects at the time. Since this book is eight years old, all the top prospects have either panned out or they didn't. Reading something like this several years after the fact is really enjoyable because you get to see if they lived up to their potential. There were 50 listed, 20 hitters and 30 pitchers.
Of the 20 hitters, the most productive has been Dustin Pedroia who "is most often compared to ex-Red Sox prospect David Eckstein, but could turn out to be much better" and "may be the steal of the 2004 draft". Well said.
Other hitting prospects who spent significant time in the majors included:
David Murphy - "...as disappointing as Murphy's been, it's too early to give up on him."
Hanley Ramirez - "When the Red Sox signed All Star shortstop Edgar Renteria, it let to speculation
that they'll trade Ramirez for a front-line starting pitcher..."
Kelly Shoppach - "...catchers often take longer than other players to develop, and Boston remains
cautiously optomistic that Shoppach will do well in the majors."
The most siginificant pitching prospect turned out to be Jon Lester. At the time considered an "inconsistent but dominant starter", I'd have to say in 2013 that still rings true. He was also considered "ideal trade bait" at the time.
Other pitching prospects included in this book were:
Cla Meredith - "...may not throw hard enough to be a big league closer, but could help Boston's pen
Jon Papelbon (he apparently wasn't Jonathan yet) - ..."converted closer with great stuff."
Anibal Sanchez - "While Sanchez's smallish size and injury history raise some red flags, his skills,
smarts, and maturity could make him a frontline starter in the majors someday."
Even though I read this eight years after I should have, it still was a very informative and entertaining read. I've followed the Red Sox for as long as I can remember, but there were still lots of things about them that I did not know and also plenty of things I did know, but enjoyed reliving them. If you are a old-time Red Sox fan, this is a great coffee table book, and a fantastic introduction for those people just beginning to experience life as a Red Sox fan.