To prepare for the World Series*, I got a glimpse of Red Sox Nation through its official spokesperson, Bill Simmons. (Never mind Ben Affleck. He's just trying to grow his future political base.) Simmons compiled a collection of his earlier ESPN Sports Guy columns to illustrate the repeated anguish and ultimate bliss that comes with being a Red Sox fan since the mid-1980s. His book is entitled Now I Can Die in Peace.
I like how Simmons seems to flip-flop on his opinions of his team's stars within his own personal Boston pantheon as their skills erode and they begin to disappoint him. I have a feeling real fans do this. A prime example is Nomar Garciaparra, the socially standoff-ish shortstop who was traded months before Boston won the 2004 World Series. Simmons reveres him, then resents him, then justifies his departure as part of a grand design.
Until I read this book, I was under the popular impression that everyone in Red Sox Nation believed in the Curse of the Bambino. It was as if the epicenter of American superstition took a short drive from Salem to Boston several decades ago. Simmons doesn't believe in the curse, which I found refreshing. (This makes me wonder if there are rational Chicago Cubs fans out there who will come out of hiding before they eventually win another title.)
Finally, I never realized how strongly the city of St. Louis figured into Boston's fortunes. The Celtics and Patriots won their first titles against the Hawks and Rams, while the Bruins and Red Sox ended their long droughts against the Blues and Cardinals.
Criticisms: it's horribly edited, with way too many mistakes in his reprinted columns and recent margin footnotes, and the author makes reference to the Godfather movies beyond anyone's normal comfort level.
* Brief thoughts on this year's Fall Classic:
1. I'd prefer the Cardinals here, but the Astros have been playing like a team of destiny since that 18-inning game to beat the Braves. (Just like last year with the Red Sox, it's hard for St. Louis to protest when it's getting steamrolled by a team playing at another level.)
2. Should the Astros prevail next week, someone will have to explain to me how wild card playoff teams keep managing to win championships.
3. I picked the Angels to make it, but they were psychologically taken out of the ALCS after Game 2 that the White Sox took over and won 4 straight, three in Anaheim. Count this team out at your own risk.
4. Should the White Sox triumph, expect a lot of cable showings of Field of Dreams and Eight Men Out. Many will watch. Some will cry.