The complete title of this New York Times Bestseller is “Now I Can Die In Peace – How ESPN’s Sports Guy Found Salvation, With a Little Help From Nomar, Pedro, Shawshank and the 2004 Red Sox”. It was written by Bill Simmons and was published in 2005.
The inside back jacket cover contains the following bio of the author:
– “Bill Simmons writes the popular Sports Guy column for ESPN.com’s Page 2 and ‘ESPN The Magazine’. A former sports reporter for the ‘Boston Herald’, he founded the award-winning bostonsportsguy.com website in 1997 and was a writer for ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’. He commutes between his home in Los Angeles and Fenway Park.”
“Now I Can Die In Peace” consists of Sports Guy columns which Mr. Simmons wrote between October 1998 and April 2005. Additionally, updates, which occurred to him upon rereading those columns, are included in the margins and form a running commentary on his writing and on Red Sox History.
The page layout consisting of text in the middle with running commentary in the margins looks hard to read, but it works out OK.
While reading this book I came to the realization that there are many similarities between the histories of the Boston Red Sox and of the Chicago Cubs – between Cubs Nation and Red Sox Nation – similarities of which I was not aware. I’m amazed at how similar Bill Simmons’ thoughts about his Red Sox, and my thoughts about my Cubs, are turning out to be.
That is the most striking aspect of this compilation of columns: change a name here and a date there and this book could very well be about the Cubs. In fact, as I was reading “Now I Can Die In Peace”, it WAS about the Cubs. My brain automatically transposed names, places and dates, and I found myself reading about my experiences being a Cubs fan.
As the bumper sticker might say: Same Stuff – Different Names.
One writing technique which Mr. Simmons employs – he very effectively weaves pop culture references into his storytelling. Those references include “The Shawshank Redemption”, “The Godfather” movies, “Rocky IV”, “Karate Kid”, etc.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book:
– “…if there was a God, the Red Sox would have won a World Series by now.”
– “Finally, the home plate ump raised his hands and started waving everyone off the field, like Bruce Willis waving the ‘Die Hard’ hostages off the top of the Nakatomi Building.”
– “I feel like I’m getting a great break on a used car.”
– “There is no such thing as a great break on a used car.”
– “The lesson, as always: Don’t get married.”
– “Through the past seven decades, through all the heartache, we’ve only seen two constants with the Red Sox – the ownership and the ballpark – and both have needed to go for years.”
– “Give me a crazy-competent owner over a cheap-quiet-incompetent owner any time.”
– “Just because they support a superior baseball team doesn’t mean they’re superior. Keep telling yourself this.”
– “We spend 10 minutes trying to remember if anyone won the World Series with an incompetent manager, finally taking solace that it happened with Arizona and Bob Brenly just two years ago.”
– “Lemme ask you – why does MLB ban HGH and steroids, but allow cadaver surgeries for blown-out elbow tendons that give pitchers stronger and more durable arms? What’s the difference?”
– “…you only have so many chances to win a championship, so you do what you have to do. It’s that simple.”
– “That’s the thing about baggage as a sports fan – you can shed this stuff. You just need a few breaks.”
– “First of all, it was released in 1986 – the same year the Pats lost in the Super Bowl…”
(I really enjoyed reading this quote.)
– “Q: What do you call 25 guys watching the World Series? A: The Yankees.”
I truly enjoyed reading this book. A lot more than I expected to.
Anyone interested in experiencing what it’s like to be a CUBS fan, should read “Now I Can Die In Peace”, by Bill Simmons.