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March 19, 2006

Day After Day

Red Sox Journal Day by Day
Author
John Snyder, author of Cardinals Journal, Cubs Journal, and The Worlds Series’ Most Wanted: The Top 10 Book of Championship Teams, Broken Dreams, and October Oddities Bill Nowlin, author or co-author of numerous Red Sox books including Blood Feud, The Kid: Ted Williams in San Diego, and Ted Williams at War, as well as the upcoming The 50 Greatest Red Sox Games

Specifications
716 pages
7 7/8 by 10 inches
$29.95
ISBN 157860253X
Emmis Books
614 pages
6 by 9 inches
$17.95
ISBN 1579401260
Rounder Books

Organization
Each decade summarized with best and worst teams, moments, and player moves, as well as an all-decade team
Seasons have significant dates beneath each year
Each season lists team record, manager, team statistics, starting lineup, season attendance, and club leaders
Photographs appear throughout
Daily entries with events organized by year in reverse chronological order
Detail of transactions, debuts, birthdates, and deaths at the end of the day
Entries of special significance marked with an icon, but no other images featured

Appendices
Multiple, including offensive and pitching leaders and an all-time roster with dates of service Single appendix with an all-time roster listing birth, death, debut, and years on the team

Sample Entry: July 29, 2003
From page 660
“Bill Mueller becomes the first player in major league history to hit grand slams from both sides of the plate during a 14-7 win over the Rangers in Arlington. Mueller had three homers overall and drove in nine runs. Batting left-handed, Mueller hit a solo homer in the third inning off R.A. Dickey. Batting right-handed in the seventh, he hit a grand slam against Aaron Fultz. An inning later, he connected again for his second grand slam of the game, this one as a lefty facing Jay Powell. On the same day, the Red Sox trade Phil Dumatrait and Tyler Pelland to the Reds for Scott Williamson.
In actuality, Pelland wasn’t named until a few weeks later.
From page 318
“In back-to-back innings (the seventh and the eighth), switch-hitting Bill Mueller hit back-to-back grand slams, one from each side of the plate at The Ballpark in Arlington. He already had a solo home run back in the third. His nine RBIs helped beat the Texas Rangers, 14-7.”
Under “Transactions,” the Williamson trade is mentioned, and it properly does not name Pelland, instead stating a player to be named later. The left-handed pitching prospect was not named until August 18, 2003; this updated information does not appear in Nowlin’s book.

It’s hard to choose between the two because they both lend themselves to different types of reading. If I wanted to relive a decade or season, I would pick up Snyder’s book. But if instead I wanted to see the odd synchronicities between throughout the eras, Nowlin’s book would be my selection.

Snyder’s book would be best if you wanted to best your peers in Red Sox trivia involving team leaders, but I question the criteria he used to determine those best and worst categories throughout the book. A note on the methodology used to select these events and players would have been appreciated.

Those wanting to explore the day-to-day coverage of the team would do well to peruse Nowlin’s volume. My issue with the Nowlin’s work is that I needed to have Retrosheet at the ready to know which game he was commenting on. Perhaps eventually Day By Day will be an electronic book with links to the box score in question.

Both books are welcome editions to my ever-growing baseball library, Given the discrepancy in the Williamson trade details, however, I suggest they hire me as their factchecker for their next editions.

March 28, 2005

A Tale of Two Cities: Divergent Destinations

Tale2citiesFull title: A Tale of Two Cities: The 2004 Yankees-Red Sox Rivalry and the War for the Pennant
Authors: Tony Massarotti and John Harper
Publisher: The Lyons Press
ISBN: 1592287042

Two beat writers for the rival teams, Tony Massarotti for the Boston Herald and John Harper for the New York Daily News, collaborate to chronicle the 2004 season. Despite the reputation of the newspapers they write for, both reporters outstrip their milieu with their achievements. Massarotti was voted the best sportswriter in Massachusetts by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association in 2000 and was a finalist for the award in 2003. Harper has co-authored several books on both the Yankees and the Mets and has covered sports for over twenty years. Both are exemplars of local kid growing up to cover the teams of their childhood.

Unlike Faithful, the Stephen King and Stewart O’Nan book, A Tale of Two Cities succeeds because Massarotti and Harper have greater access to and insight on the inner workings of the clubhouses as well as an astute eye (not always objective) to observe the foibles of players, managers, and executives. Since I’m a fan like King and O’Nan, their viewpoint (other than the fact they had much better seats and went to more games) isn’t necessarily very different from mine. Being with the team almost continuously enables Massarotti and Harper to witness firsthand incidents that would otherwise go undocumented.

One occurrence that has gotten publicity because it was excerpted in the Herald is the clash between Shonda Schilling and Johnny Damon’s then-fiancée, Michelle Mangan, regarding the good luck scarves the former had distributed amongst the players’ significant others. There are many other peccadilloes recounted that I’ll leave to the audience to uncover for themselves. Even if you were an ardent follower last season, you will still probably discover something new in this book.

Also of note is seeing the series through their lenses lightly tinted with bias. The Red Sox took an early lead in the season series, winning six out of seven games, including a sweep at Yankee Stadium. Massarotti mocks the Yankees’ excuse of jet-lag, pointing out it had been three weeks since since they had returned from Japan. Meanwhile, Harper states unironically that the “jet-lagged ballclub [was] still shaking off the cobwebs from the season-opening trip to Japan.”

The temptation for newspaper writers would be to rehash the work they had already done all season. Fortunately, neither succumbed to this facile path. Instead, the point/counterpoint structure of the book lends itself to lively and well-informed banter between two reporters that, for this occasion, decided to be fans first. Fans fortunate to have an enviable vantage not only at the games, but in the clubhouses and front offices as well. I give this book four press credentials out of five.

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