I just started reading R.A. Dickey's new book.
I hoped it would be good, but not many as-told-to autobiographies by baseball players are any good at all. This one's really good, though. So far, anyway ...
I'm 85 pages into @RADickey43's book and 83 of them have been compelling. Excellent candidate for Baseball Book of the Year.— robneyer (@robneyer) April 5, 2012
Those other two, non-compelling pages? For that, you'll have to keep reading ...
I was sorta live-Tweeting the book -- which is actually kind of a cool idea, now that I think of it, though I'm sure I can't be anything like the first to think of it -- and here was my second post (the first was this shocking fact about Brandon Inge) ...
Just got to the first stuff in @RADickey43's book about his faith. I wish he could have figured a way to make it interesting.— robneyer (@robneyer) April 5, 2012
Yes, it was a flippant comment. But, you know, it's Twitter. Which doesn't allow for much else. And I knew that comment wouldn't go over real well in every quarter. Example:
And then a few moments later, this:
In case you didn't already know, R.A. Dickey's one of my favorite players. Maybe my favorite player. He throws my favorite pitch, the same pitch that Tim Wakefield threw, and he seems to have written a better book than Wakefield's. If you know how I feel about knuckleballs and how I feel about books, you know how I feel about Robert Alan Dickey.
But Joel Biddle's question isn't fantastic at all; at least I don't think he had fantastic in his mind, when he posed his question. I think his question, as formed in his mind, probably was facile.
Because the answer to his question is ridiculously simple: Faith is interesting to an unbeliever -- or, I would hope, even to a believer -- when it's expressed in an interesting way.
Look, sabermetrics isn't interesting to most people. But a lot of people really enjoyed the Moneyball movie because sabermetrics was expressed via the talents of Aaron Sorkin, Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, etc. Most people aren't interested in serious bird-watching, but a lot of people find it highly interesting when Jonathan Franzen writes about birding-watching because Franzen writes well enough to make almost anything interesting.
I'm an unbeliever. Or a nonbeliever. Or a pagan. Whatever you want to call me is fine. But that does not mean faith is inherently uninteresting to me. It's just uninteresting when it's ... well, when it's uninteresting.
Have you been around many devout Christians who like to spread the Word? In my (granted, limited) experience, it's always sort of the same. There are a lot of capital letters and epiphanies and everything sounds like it's been rehearsed and repeated a thousand times. Which is almost inherently uninteresting.
What makes Dickey's book so good is that he doesn't think or write (or dictate to his collaborator, perhaps) like the great majority of professional baseball players. I guess I wish Dickey would have lingered over these two pages for a bit longer, and tried to tell a story about his faith that made it distinctly his. Rather than the same boilerplate you can probably get from any number of your believing relatives.
I'm only 85 pages in. Maybe those two pages with all those capital letters are going to be the only two pages in the whole book like that. Or maybe not. Dickey's faith is obviously a big part of his life, and I can't blame the guy for wanting to tell that part of his story, too. But the interesting material in the book is the stuff I've never heard before.
Fortunately, I get the feeling there's going to be plenty more of that.