Holley also confirms a few common suspicions. Namely, that the enigmatic Manny Ramirez could drive a lesser man mad (you almost wonder if Francona had a full head of hair before Manny came into his life), that David Ortiz is a godsend as Tito's clubhouse consigliere, and that the two transcendent sluggers' roles often intersect. Writes Holley of one particularly exasperating Manny-Being-Manny episode:
Francona was so frustrated with Ramirez that he told Ortiz, "I'm going to kill him." Ortiz listened and told the manager that he'd check on Ramirez. After a while, Ortiz returned with a smile and a statement: "It's all right for you to kill him now."
It's good stuff to be sure, and if there are criticisms of the book, they are small ones, certainly not significant enough to prevent a sincere recommendation. Sometimes Holley's metaphors require a second read to deliver their full effect, and it occasionally takes him three sentences to say what a more disciplined writer would convey in one. (I know, go ahead and file that baby under Takes One To Know One.) And I'm fairly certain Joba Chamberlain never pitched for Portland last season, because I'd like to think I would have noticed the midges.
Also, because of that anecdotal style - each chapter focuses on a different chapter in Francona's life - some of the most significant moments are little more than footnotes, though I imagine the glossing over of the the two World Championships was by design. There are entire shelves in your local library dedicated to those particular topics.
Make no mistake, this book, despite its generic title, is about Terry Francona. After reading it, you can't help but have further admiration for baseball's finest and most underappreciated manager. Chances are your admiration for the author will grow as well.
About Touching All The Bases
Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.