‘Faithful’ by Stephen King and Stewart O’Nan

I got Faithful the other day and finished it immediately. It was a great book, and I’d even recommend it to non-Sox followers, especially because it records the 2004 season, a historic season for the ages and will probably become “the” book to own about the 2004 Red Sox because, unlike most books, it involves knee-jerk reactions.

Like all Sox fans, Stephen and Stewart differ from me on some things, but we agree on some things. For example, they really liked Nomar, and thought the Red Sox shouldn’t have traded him. They thought (at the time) that who we got for him was junk. They weren’t too pleased with the signing of Leskanic (or as they call him, ‘The Mechanic’.) However, we agree on a couple things. For example, Stephen King’s “boy” is Tim Wakefield, much like Wakefield is my “boy”, and they were big fans of Brian Daubach, like I am (and most Sox fans are). They called Ellis Burks and Brian Daubach the “prodigial sons” of Fenway, something I found quite fitting.

It made me think. I had an exchange with Sam in the comments back in the 2004 1B Review, about Brian Daubach and where he should go. Maybe he should come here again. Think about it – it’s very doubtful that Millar and Mientkiewicz will be both around next year, leaving us with two first-basemen in Ortiz and Millar/Mientkiewicz. I doubt David McCarty will return, especially because he will retire before going to the minor leagues, and we will most likely want an outfielder over another first-baseman. So if we resign Daubach with the understanding he will be on the bubble for the 25-man roster and most likely start in AAA, then if Ortiz/Millar/Mientkiewicz goes down to injury, or an outfielder, we could see Daubach. I sure wouldn’t mind seeing Dauber back in crimson socks.

It was strange to experience April again (I also didn’t realize how much time Dauber did spend with us), to remember how excited I was at the fast start. Then we started scuffling and wishing for Trot and Nomar. Then we staggered to a .500 record with Nomar, before trading him. The doom and gloom in the book is similiar to what we went through. Then we were wild with fever with a wild August and a solid September. Then we feel the rage at being down 3-0 to the Yankees, and the joy of winning it all. The only beef I had with the book is that the World Series was a little too quick, it almost seemed like an afterthought. Reading this book, it’s kind of like it was supposed to end with the Red Sox beating the Yankees and a postscript saying “The Red Sox lost in six against the Cardinals, but they had already given us a season to remember.” I am fortunate they gave us more than just a comeback against the Yankees!

Most of the book is the diary of Stewart O’Nan, also with entries by Stephen King, who is much more knee-jerk and reactionary. There are also snippets of e-mails between King and O’Nan. There is one such snippet from an e-mail by O’Nan on April 21st I found really interesting (and true) and wanted to share it.

And here’s some history: the Angels, prior to 2001 [does he mean 2002?], were all-time chokers. Remember? No, you can’t, at least not emotionally, because their win has forever changed the way we see the club and its past. It’s a line you cross, and when the Sox cross it, our hindsight will be softened, and all these close calls will lose their power to wound us. Like the Pats, we’ll no longer be hapless. Ask the old hard-lucker UConn Huskies of Jim Calhoun [who once threw out a first-pitch for the Red Sox, and flatly refused to do so at Yankee Stadium for the Yankees, as is said in the book], the 1980 Phillies, the last two Elway Bronco squads, etc., etc. So good-bye Tony Eason, good-bye, Donnie Moore [goodbye, Bill Buckner].

I went through my Fire Brand archives and tried to select one post from each month starting with February, like Faithful, and going through October that best described each month, to get the feeling of each month. It’s a nice stroll down memory lane.

February: A Leap Year, a Leap of Faith – a quick post saying how confident I am about this season.

March: Why Mike Mussina wont survive – Here I talk about why I don’t think Mike Mussina won’t do so well this season (he didn’t for most of the year).

April: “It doesn’t mean the season’s over” – I talk about the rotation issues in spring, about who was being lined up to face the Yankees. This is something that was talked about in the book.

May: Inflammations, Tendinitis