Although I am a voracious consumer of non-fiction I seldom traverse into the world of sports. If I read 50 books a year chances are less than a handful would be concerned with sports. There are simply too many other subjects I would prefer to read about. Several weeks ago The Boston Globe began releasing excerpts from Dan Shaugnessy and Terry Francona's long awaited and highly touted new collaboration "Francona: The Red Sox Years". Given all of the scuttlebutt on Boston sports radio I was led to believe that "Francona" would be awash in new and surprising revelations about Terry Francona's eight year tenure as manager of the Boston Red Sox. Being a lifelong Sox fan I could not resist the temptation. I ordered the book immediately.
Much to my surprise I found very little in the way of new information in "Francona". Practically everything I read in this book I had seen in print or heard discussed on sports radio and TV at one time or another. I must admit that I was a bit disappointed. This is by no means a bad book. Shaugnessy and Francona do a workmanlike job of chronicling Tito's eight year run as manager of the Red Sox. It was fun to read again about the antics of the so-called "idiots" on that '04 championship team and about "Manny being Manny". How Terry Francona survived seven seasons of dealing with that guy is beyond me. And you will probably shed a tear when Tito recalls hugging John Lester after he tossed his no-hitter back in 2008. It was such an emotional moment for both men. I was also very happy to see the recollections shared by former Sox GM Theo Epstein woven into the text. "Francona" spells out how it all started to unravel in 2010. Perhaps the key moment was when CEO Tom Werner suggested that "We need to start winning in a more exciting fashion". One had to wonder what the real priorities of the organization were. It seemed to be all downhill from there.
As I indicated earlier there is no denying that "Francona: The Red Sox Years" is an important addition to the historical record and will be enjoyed by generations of Red Sox fans to come. Dan Shaughnessy is an fine writer and Terry Francona proves to be a rather interesting subject. Terry saw it all during his eight years in Boston. Having said that, I cannot help but come away from this book feeling a little cheated. I simply did not learn all that much. According to the Amazon ratings system if you come away feeling a book is just "OK" then you are supposed to rate it three stars. For me, "Francona: The Red Sox Years" comes up a bit short. As such, I can only offer a rather lukewarm recommendation.
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