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Book Review: Bill Simmons Now I Can Die In Peace

I just polished off Bill Simmons's new book.  It's called 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.  Yep, that whole thing is the title - it's a little much. 

I didn't know much about Simmons until recently.  I had stumbled across his column occasionally, and it always gave me a chuckle.  His new book kept popping up on my Amazon recommendations, so I gave it a chance.  Also popping up on my list: Lord of the Rings Platinum Series Special Extended Edition.  That three hour creation would actually be my own personal version of hell, so you have to take Amazon recs with a grain of salt.

Not being too familiar with Simmons's past writing made the book far more enjoyable for me.  I definitely didn't feel cheated out of my $15.37 after I finished this book.  If I were a regular Simmons reader, I may have been pissed.  It's just a reprinting of his more interesting and relevant columns as they pertain to the Red Sox eventually winning the 2004 World Series.  Then again, Simmons more than throws his regulars a bone - he includes five hundred lovingly crafted footnotes with his musings and factoids.  Loved the footnotes. 

Bill's style is a breeze to read and never gets boring.  His columns read like a barroom conversation, only more pithy.  The book is mostly Red Sox baseball, but with plenty of amusing digressions.  For example, Bill missed Pedro's 17 K one-hitter to attend a friend's wedding in 1999.  His adventures during the wedding are more entertaining than any description of Pedro's game could've been.  A hilarious Life Goes On reference is the icing on the cake. 

My favorite chapter/column of the book was Bill's breakdown of the ESPN documentary Outside the Lines as they covered the Manny Ramirez free agent negotiations.  I laughed out loud as Simmons described the incredibly awkward interactions between antisocial Boston GM Dan Duquette and man-child Manny.  Another recurring reference that was always effective was The Derek Lowe Face.  This is described as the face you make when you're on the toilet and you realize there's no toilet paper.  I actually laughed out loud more than five times while reading this book.


Honestly, that's all you really need to know.  It's laugh-out-loud funny, packed with pop culture references, and doesn't pull any punches.  Now I Can Die In Peace is probably one of two worthy Red Sox books in a sea of quickie writeups.  The other is Baseball Prospectus's Mind Game, and a review is on the way.

Today's pick: (1-3, -$170)
Paul Byrd (+210) over Randy Johnson (-250)

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