Review: The Maple Street Press 2006 Red Sox Annual

For years Jim Walsh had been reading baseball preview guides and found himself wanting more than the 3-4 pages that these national publications would devote to each club. He wanted a preview devoted to the Red Sox, that would give the Boston fan more, something he felt they deserved “due to their undying loyalty to the team and insatiable appetite for Sox-related information.” To that end, Walsh heeded to the old adage that “If you want something done right, do it yourself” and set about creating that dream publication.

The result is the 108 page 2006 Red Sox Annual, published by Maple Street Press. Walsh edited the project, which was done in partnership with the Sons of Sam Horn website, of which Walsh has been a member of for four years. The publication is chock full of features, interviews, reports, analysis and yes, plenty of statistical charts and formulas. (In the effort of full disclosure, it should be noted that I wrote an article for the book, a four page look at the newspaper, radio, television and internet coverage of the Red Sox.)

The guide is divided out into three major sections, plus an appendix with scoring and win probability tables. The first section is Analyzing the 2006 BoSox, and leads off with 10 page, position-by-position, player-by-player breakdown by Chad Finn. The thumbnails of each player are both informative and fun at the same time. Finn mixes in plenty of one-liners in his player profiles, such as this one in Mike Lowell’s section: “…played prep ball with A-Rod in Miami…says they are not close…so he’s a good judge of character.” After Finn’s “From the Ground Up” article there is an American League preview by Aaron Gleeman, (with plenty of attention paid to the Yankees) followed by analysis from Pete Palmer (co-author of The Hidden Game of Baseball) on the Red Sox’s approach to the sacrifice bunt.

Vince Gennaro then examines the topic “Turning a Winning Red Sox Team Into a Financial Winner“, he compares the revenue advantages that the Yankees have over the Red Sox, noting that it is “entirely driven by the broadcast arrangements and largely attributable to the size of the New York market”. He also examines nuggets such as how much Johnny Damon was worth to the Red Sox after they signed him in 2002 and how revenues will rise and fall with a team’s number of wins. There a look at the reign of Theo Epstein, as he built and dismantled the 2004 championship team. The Moneyball approach and misconceptions surround it as regards the Red Sox is the subject of the article immediately before mine, which as mentioned is a look at the Red Sox media coverage. Jim Bennett then closes out this section of the book with an in-depth statistical breakdown of what Red Sox fans might be able to expect out of this 2006 edition of the hometown nine.

The second section of the book is Down on The Farm, which leads off with a Red Sox minor league report, followed by features and interviews with Jonathan Papelbon, Craig Hansen and Jed Lowrie, all done by David Laurila. The Papelbon article has the family of the pitcher recalling the day of his first major league start last season against the Minnesota Twins and their emotions and feelings on the event. The interviews with Hansen and Lowrie are straight Q&A session with the closer and infield prospects.

The last section of the book is dedicated to Red Sox teams and legends of the past. Mark Armour (co-author of Paths to Glory) has an interesting look at “The Year After“, which examines how the Red Sox squads of 1947, 1968, 1976, 1987 and 2005 fared after the team of the previous year had made a World Series appearance. Stephen Vetere and Jim Walsh then examine the 13 postseason elimination games that the Red Sox played between 1999 and 2004. Remarkably, the Red Sox won 11 of those 13 games in that span, making it the most prolific elimination game streak in baseball history. Each of the games is examined and dissected. There is a 20th Anniversary look back at the 1986 Red Sox, followed by a remembrance of Tony Congliaro by Shaun Kelly. (Who started the famous “Win it for…” thread on SoSH during the 2004 postseason) The final article in the publication examines the Hall of Fame candidacy of Jim Rice. Author Mark A Brown notes that Rice has no less then eight strikes against his when it comes to Hall admission, and probably in the end falls just short of the qualifications needed for the induction into the Hall.

The appendix, as mentioned earlier, contains win and scoring probability tables for major league baseball, as noted in the introduction the tables, these can be an interesting guide to compare Terry Francona’s late inning moves as the tables go through a plethora of scenarios for each team for last season.

Walsh wanted to create a publication completely devoted to the Red Sox, with plenty of in depth information and analysis. I believe this book succeeds in doing that, and is a worthwhile read to anyone planning to follow the Red Sox on their season-long journey to October. The 2006 Red Sox Annual can be purchased for $9.95 through the banner ad at the top of this page, which is directly through the publisher, or on Amazon.com.