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Faithful: Two Diehard Boston Red Sox Fans Chronicle the Historic 2004 Season Paperback – September 6, 2005
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"Faithful isn't just about the Red Sox. It's also about family, friendship, and what it truly means to be a baseball fan and to be -- well, faithful, come hell or high water....The season was full of priceless moments, and King and O'Nan catch nearly all of them in amber."
-- Frank Mosher, The Boston Globe
"King and O'Nan are the kind of fans who make for great baseball companions: know-ledgeable, opinionated, funny, and irreverent."
-- Bob Minzesheimer, USA Today
"A sweet romance...the details are priceless."
-- Kyle Smith, People
"Faithful is ultimately a quasi-religious book about what all great religions should be founded upon: love -- in all its blindness and terror and euphoria and purity and, yes, addiction."
-- Dennis Lehane, Entertainment Weekly
About the Author
Stewart O’Nan’s award-winning fiction includes Snow Angels, A Prayer for the Dying, Last Night at the Lobster, and Emily, Alone. His most recent novel, The Odds, was hailed by The Boston Globe as “a gorgeous fable, a stunning meditation and a hope-filled Valentine.” Granta named him one of America’s Best Young Novelists. He was born and raised and lives in Pittsburgh.
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It was good to see how Spooky and Kooky spend their lives from April until November. They are good fathers and husbands whose families support their fanaticism. I gave Mr O'Nan the nickname Kooky because he is obsessed with catching baseballs and getting them signed. When he took a fish net on a ten-foot pole to a game his wife and kids walked behind him, pretending not to know him.
I was really looking forward to the book after hearing during the post-season that Steve and Stewart were working on this book. What a fortuitous year to have chosen for this project (sometimes the stars do align). The problem I have with the book isn't as moronic as the idiots that are whining about "nasty language". Good lord, people, they're real words written by real people expressing real thoughts. Get over it already you prudish dullards.
Nope, my problem with the book is that so much time was dedicated to early games in the season than was put into the most important games of the season (the post-season). You get pitch-by-pitch accounts of games in May, but only a gloss-over of some of the post season wins. Come on, guys, those are the games we really wanted to read about.
I'm giving it 3 stars, though, because you do get a real feel for what it's like to be a fan of the BoSox, but most of all what it's like to be a fan of the game of baseball. For that, Steve and Stewart are to be congratulated. A better editor would have helped greatly.
A couple of gripes and comments.
SK wishes he was wearing his "DAUBACH IS MY DADDY" shirt in February . This seemed to me like there was perhaps a little editing post - YANKEES ARE MY DADDY, but who knows, maybe he did have such a shirt
SK and SO dialogue on the possibility Trot Nixon was on Steroids due to the amount of time it was taking his hamstring to heal. How Nomar was left off of their list of suspects is beyond me. Nomar had missed 4 months due to achilles tendonitis and had missed most of 2001 due to a very rare tendon rupture in his wrist. These are typical problems associated with those either using Roids or those who used them in the past. Also, his power production numbers have been off these past 3 years even though he was at an age when they should be taking off. Most likely it is lingering effects of surgery on his wrist and not ROIDS, but Nomars 2002-2004 numbers are nowhere near his 1998-2000 numbers ( discounting 2001 which is the year he had surgery) and if he went off ROIDS it most likely would have been in 2001 when medical staff would have advised of the relationship between ROIDS and tendon ruptures. So it seemed unfair to pick on Trot and leave Nomar off the hook.
SK apparently has an impression Manny has always been a happy camper, all smiles and outgoing since joining the Red Sox in 2001, and that he still remained the same old Manny after the Red Sox tried to trade him for A-ROD. This was not the case. What he describes is the NEW Manny. Manny came out of his shell only after taking a beating from the newspapers and fans the past couple of years for being sullen and not giving interviews (this would manifest itself by them over reacting to some of his questionable injuries or time off, or mistakes on the field). His behavior changed in 2004 after realizing no one else besides the Red Sox wanted him at his present salary (he cleared waivers end of 2003 befor A-Rod talks began) plus David Ortiz has been a big influence on him and most likely convinced him life would be a lot easier to live the next 4-5 years in Boston if he opened up. The fans and news media responded accordingly by cutting him some slack when Manny would mess up (eg. forget how many outs there are, not run out a play, etc).
On the SOX's 5-4 loss to yankees on July 1 SO complains of Jeters hot dogging. The incident being referred to is when he dived into the stands in the 12th and busted up his face a bit on the metal frames of the chairs. I am a lifelong Red Sox fan and Yankee hater (mainly the yankees of the 70's as the Joe Torre yankees are an OK bunch except for A-Rod and Sheffield, and......), but even I appreciated that play by Jeter. Meanwhile, Nomar was taking another day of rest -against the Yankees!- and sitting alone in the dugout all night looking like a dog does after his master has scolded him. Even as the Sox rally and come back Nomar doesn't crack a smile or show any emotion let alone get off the bench, at least most of the time -he did get up at one point that we could see but held back a bit by staying on the bottom steps while his mates were on the top steps . There is nary a mention of this by SK or SO, but to me and many other fans it started us thinking, oh oh, Nomar may be with us physically but he is not going to be a part of this team in the way we need him to be, and is certainly not re-signing with the BOSOX (1 month later he is traded and I believe it is this game that prompted it to be considered. We all wish Nomar could have been part of this championship team, but when he was traded, things were looking bleak and it was not looking like the Red Sox could even get to the playoffs since they had been playing 500 ball for 2 months and the Yankees were streaking, and Nomar did not look like he wanted it too much.
SK and SO were really put off that Nomar was traded for orlando carbrera (OC) and MIENTKIEWICZ (DM). They couldnt get over this and in truth, we really didnt get much in return. What we did get was a shortstop who is not as good a player as Nomar is, when Nomar is healthy, and a 1B who was hitting 240. The key here is Orlando was healthy and a good player, and Nomar was not healthy and warned the Red Sox he may need additional time off the remainder of the year. OC had a rough start at the plate and began to produce and was good defensively, plus he actually did something Nomar was not doing much of in 2004, he smiled and looked like he was having fun playing baseball. DM was used mainly as a defensive replacement and he made some truly spectacular plays in the field, even if he did not hit as much as we hoped. SK did have a valid point that the Red Sox had for much of the season a player who played good D at 1B in Dave Mcarty but he was rarely used as a defensive replacement for Millar, so DM represented more a change in philosophy than a necessity. But since OC was a free agent at the end of the year, like Nomar, we had to end up with someone who would stick around so we had something to show for the trade next year.
SK and SO did criticize both Francona and 3B coach Dale Seveum from time to time (reminding some of us of Wendall "send em along" Kim), but nowhere near to the extent they may have. I suspect some self-censorship on their part for obvious reasons (eg SK getting to throw out the first pitch, tickets, etc). I dont have a problem with this since after all, we did win the World Series, so the book should not be too negative.
Despite my comments a good read.