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McGair: Regarding Francona’s book, let’s not spoil everything

January 19, 2013

Terry Francona

A little of this, a little of that …

Wake me when it’s Tuesday – the day Terry Francona’s juicy and highly anticipated book is scheduled to hit the shelves.
Not a moment too soon.
Look, I understand the importance of publicizing and spreading the word to the masses that there’s something on the immediate horizon that you may want to check out. The particular PR campaign for Francona’s 368-page opus has me a tad confused, however.
Wouldn’t you want to keep something like this under wraps as long as possible? Chances are a book in Francona’s own words about his Red Sox managerial tenure is going to have absolutely no trouble selling, particularly in New England. Saturday on barnesandnoble.com, the book stood 17th in sales ranks.
If the publishing group – in this case, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – wanted to release something similar to a movie trailer, by all means. Yet to feature an excerpt like in this week’s Sports Illustrated is akin to knowing the punch line before the joke is told.
At least the Boston Globe has the decency to wait until after the release date to publish passages from Francona’s book, which the newspaper will do for three straight days beginning Sunday, Jan. 27.
The account that Sports Illustrated was able to obtain should have come with a disclaimer that stated the following: if you plan on buying the Francona book, skip the next few magazine pages. Otherwise, continue reading.
Not everyone likes to have milk and cookies separately, but that’s exactly what’s shaping up here. You read the SI excerpt, purchase the book only to find yourself potentially jumping over this not-your-typical teaser that was unveiled to the public a week before its release.
And then there’s the fallout that’s ensued since the SI portion was put out there. Appearing at Cleveland’s fan fest last Friday, Francona told MLB.com that he wasn’t too pleased about the section of the book that was chosen. The new Indians skipper felt the part that described the disharmony between himself and Red Sox upper management placed the work he did with Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy in an unflattering light, as if Francona was exacting revenge stemming from how poorly his exit from Boston was orchestrated.
“What I’m hoping is it will be taken the right way, and people will take the time to read it and form their own opinions, and not just [go by] what a two-page thing says,” is the wish Francona expressed to MLB.com about having the book viewed in its complete form.
Perhaps my objection to Sports Illustrated making content from Francona’s book available before hand stems from the magazine running an excerpt from Jack McCallum’s “Dream Team” prior to its release last summer. Part of me was curious to read McCallum’s account even though my mind was already made up that I was going to buy the book the day it came out.
Upon arriving at Chapter 28 entitled “The Greatest Game Nobody Saw,” a conundrum arose. Do I fast forward given the part about the intrasquad scrimmage involving Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson since I was already aware of what happened thanks to SI, or do I keep continuing to read under the assumption that this is new material? In the end, I flipped to Chapter 29, though there was a part of me that regretted jumping the gun and reading what Sports Illustrated printed from McCallum’s well-crafted rendition of arguably the greatest team ever assembled in sports history.
Presented with the same predicament with the Francona book, there was no hesitation on this end. Desiring to read the book from cover to cover, I ignored SI’s plug for a literary work that figures to attract enough attention.
The premise of a movie trailer is to reveal as little as possible about the plot while simultaneously whetting the appetite of the consumer. That’s exactly the tactic that should have been taken with Francona’s ode to his time in Boston’s dugout. Sports Illustrated, though, probably was thinking more about individual magazine sales rather than boosting curiosity about Francona’s book.
Like a worm on a hook, there’s a part of the book that’s dangling out there. Hopefully there are some folks who didn’t take the bait and plan to read Francona’s book with an open mind.
***
It’s been awhile since a Rhode Island Division I college basketball entry has harbored serious NCAA Tournament prospects. That’s why we should start paying a little more attention to the goings on at Bryant, where the stars seem to be aligning for Tim O’Shea’s Bulldogs.
Now 6-0 in the Northeast Conference following Saturday’s home victory against Wagner, Bryant is enjoying the kind of winter that’s been rare around these parts. Nine years have elapsed since the Ocean State last sent a representative to the Big Dance.
Since Providence College’s one-and-done appearance in 2004, local college hoops enthusiasts have been buried under an avalanche of on-court struggles and coaching changes. Winning basketball has rarely been a topic of conversation.
Granted there’s plenty of season remaining, but at least Bryant is giving us the hope that the NCAA dry spell could be mercifully coming to an end.
***
Judging by the one-point outcome the two teams staged last Thursday night, the boys’ basketball teams at North Smithfield and Middletown appear on track to collide in the Division III tournament. If there is a second meeting, it will take place at a neutral setting. The memories of the Northmen defending their home floor in a pulsating 57-56 triumph will likely stick with the Islanders for the balance of the regular season and undoubtedly make them eager for another crack at a North Smithfield squad that is currently one of two R.I. high school teams that have yet to absorb a loss this season.
N.S. improved to 10-0 in Division III-North and 13-0 overall after cruising to a 75-37 win against St. Patrick’s on Saturday. For those curious, North Kingstown is the other unblemished unit, the Skippers 9-0 in Division I and 14-0 overall.

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