Sunday, April 3, 2011

It Was Never About The Babe By: Jerry M. Gutlon

This book sets out to set the record straight concerning the fabled
Curse of the Bambino. It attempts to lie out the reasons that there was never a curse. The reason for 86 years of suffering had nothing to do with selling Babe Ruth. As the book’s subtitle tells us, it was a case of racism and mismanagement that led to the years of despair. Not a ghost hovering over Fenway Park. This book chronicles the history of the Red Sox. It tries to correct some long-held misconceptions along the way. It dives deep into the background of stories that everyone only thinks they already know. It presents itself as the actual history that nobody wanted to hear about. They would rather just place it all on some Curse.

If you ask a religious person for proof that there is a god, they’ll often tell you to look around. The trees, the mountains, the air, all the goodness. They are all god’s work. So, if I was looking for proof of the Curse, couldn’t I use the racism and mismanagement as proof of its existence? Couldn’t the Red Sox have been mismanaged because of the Curse?

The problem with any Red Sox history is that all the important stuff happened long ago when it wasn’t all that important. In 1919 the Red Sox got rid of a disgruntled superstar, but coverage of it was relatively minimal. In 2004 the Red Sox did the same thing, and you couldn’t leave the house without tripping over coverage. I think I have a pretty good idea of what Theo was thinking when he traded Nomar. I have a great idea of what fan reaction was to the trade. It was covered to death. Babe Ruth? What stories remain were only a fraction of the information we have at our disposal today. So, anytime a book like this is written, it’s always a toss up as to what the “true” history is. Was Ruth a distraction? Was the Jackie Robinson tryout a sham? One book will find accounts on one side, some on the other. Who’s to know? So it’s somewhat troubling when this book falls into some of the same traps as the Curse of the Bambino book it is trying to discredit. My opinion of this book flip-flopped constantly as I read it. I’d read a section that made me question the whole book. Then, I’d read a wonderful section that made me want to read it again. In the end, it’s a well-written book. It had some information in it that I hadn’t heard before. It’s well worth sitting down to read. You’ll just have to ignore the part where Bill Buckner is run out of town.

Rating: 3 bases

1 comment:

  1. I can see Dan Shaughnessy running out to bookstores, buying up every copy of this book and having a giant bonfire while yelling, "The curse is still alive" over and over again.


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