Welcome to Red Sox Nation, Bobby Valentine! Undoubtedly, you know much about our beloved ball team, its history and lore.
For a more profound and well-rounded immersion, Bobby V, pick up these classics and more during your honeymoon period--from now until spring training--as the Red Sox new skipper. Over the next few months, you'll be logging a lot of miles jetting all over the country and to and from Japan, where you're helping with the earthquake disaster relief. All that air travel and airport time translates into plenty of reading time.
My writing students usually have some final project to turn in at the end of the semester. While you will not take quizzes or write response papers, these readings could affect your final grade; think twice before blowing these books off. Please note that your grades will be determined by committee aka Red Sox Nation. The midterm grade will be based on the team's and your performance at the time of the All-Star break. As for the final exam, it's a biggee: a World Series win.
Your Reading List
Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu: John Updike on Ted Williams (Library of America), who describes Williams connection with Red Sox fans, “a marriage, composed of spats, mutual disappointments, and, toward the end, a mellowing hoard of shared memories.” Take plenty of notes, Bobby V. Although this New Yorker essay was written in 1960, some things haven't changed.
Because the Red Sox have had some bonding issues of late, David Halberstam's The Teammates: A Portrait of a Friendship may provide insight into putting bromance back into Fenway. In this book, Halberstam chronicles the lifelong friendship of former Red Sox players Bobby Doerr, Dominic DiMaggio, Johnny Pesky and Ted Williams. Assignments: Take Johnny Pesky to breakfast at his eatery of choice, the Salem Diner. Sit at foot of the Teammates statue at Fenway Park often and contemplate on the meaning of the word "team." Consider taking the entire Red Sox roster on a mini-pilgrimage there before Opening Day, where you can give them one of those heartwarming, classic inspiring go-get-em speeches.
Take them for pitchers of margaritas at La Verdad around the corner.
Avid Red Sox fans and authors Stephen King (wave to him from the dugout this summer) and Stewart O'Nan co-wrote Faithful, in which they chronicle the 2004 season. This book will give you a real fan's point of view. Let King and O'Nan give you a sense of what Red Sox Nation experiences from the stands. Dennis Lehane, author and Boston native, described the book in Entertainment Weekly this way (note the words I've highlighted):
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.
Now on to a touchy subject: fried chicken. Reports in the media have noted some rather unhealthy dietary choices among Red Sox players. Perhaps you can encourage them to opt for takeout sushi in the club house. Regale them with tales of the sushi-eating habits of the Chiba Lotte Marines you managed in Japan and any correlation (we're desperate, Bobby V) with their Japan Series win. Also, to bolster your argument, tell the players that sushi is also the go-to choice of Wimbledon players.
Scratch that. This team needs a complete diet makeover. Order The Complete Idiot's Guide to Total Nutrition for everyone in the Red Sox team and place a copy in each locker on the first day of spring training. Pull up a chair and gather all the players around you on little mats. Read from this daily. Bonus: The word "Idiot" in the title harkens back to the World Series team of yore (think "warm and fuzzy," and in some cases, very fuzzy) and may trick the current roster into thinking this book was written especially for them.
Word on the street has it that you have had some epic run-ins with the team office and players in your past. That combined with Red Sox players' end-of-season apathy and collapse could prove to be a challenge all around. To round up your required reading, I have several books in mind:
- Toxic People: Decontaminate Difficult People at Work Without Using Weapons Or Duct Tape by Marsha Petrie Sue. From the book: "Work is tough. No matter what you do or where you do it, difficult situations are always likely to arise. The true test of a professional is how you respond to those difficult and stressful moments in the office. Do you react negatively, making the situation worse? Or do you respond positively and change the situation to your benefit?" (See also her other books: The Reactor Factor and The CEO of YOU.)
The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli. Amazon description: "'It is far safer to be feared than loved...' Machiavelli made his name notorious for centuries with The Prince, his clever and cynical work about power relationships. The key themes of this influential, and ever timely, writer are that adaptability is the key to success and that effective leadership is sometimes only possible at the expense of moral standards."Expense of moral standards? On second thought, maybe not.
- The Big Book of Team-Motivating Games: Spirit-Building, Problem-Solving and Communication Games for Every Group by Mary and Edward Scannell. The authors say that these games require few or no props. Whatever you do with the team, though, think twice about any "trust falls" exercises.
As for your boss, John Henry, here's a little TMI for you: emails between him and his current wife while they were a-courting, which were featured in a Boston Magazine story about their romance. Warning: contents may make you gag.
And when you need a break from all this heavy-duty reading, download "Still We Believe" to your laptop. This documentary will help you understand the heartache of Red Sox Nation.
As for acing the final, view this clip every morning and before you go to bed:
Happy reading (and viewing), Bobby V! See you in April.
The author is solely responsible for the content.