Francona and the Red Sox

I finished reading Francona last week and have been listening and reading to what people are saying about it.  In case you don’t live in Boston, follow the Red Sox, or follow another baseball team, Terry Francona was the manager of the Boston Red Sox from 2004 through the 2011 season.  Quite a long time in baseball years, particularly in Red Sox years.  He managed the team to their first World Series win (2004) in 86 years breaking the infamous curse of Babe Ruth.  And then one a second Series in 2007.  I loved seeing him in the corner of the dugout chewing his tobacco which he pretended was gum or maybe is was sometimes the other way around.  And I felt terrible as the 2011 season imploded in September.  I think we all knew that Francona wouldn’t be back for 2012.

Terry in the dugout.

Terry in the dugout.

So now there is the book, Francona. by Terry and Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe.  Some people don’t like it because they think it completely trashes the owners which makes me wonder if they have actually read the book.  Or maybe they are responding on behalf of the owners.  I had read some of the advanced reviews which said that he was not nice to the owners so I guess I looked for those parts in the book.  (for a nice interview with Terry by Emily Rooney, click here.)

The controversy appears to stem largely from his statement that the owners didn’t like baseball.  Taken out of context, this is a rather silly statement.  Why would you spend millions to own a team if you didn’t like the game?  But if you read the book, you learn that in Francona’s  world, where one lives and breathes baseball from a very young age, the owners are different.  They have other interests, like making money, and bring in fans.  Why else would they bring in a showman like Bobby Valentine after Terry?

There is a delicate balance between the purity of the game and the game as business.  Francona is on one side of that fine line, John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino are on the other.  And that is the essence of the the matter.  In the end, Francona and Theo Epstein were on the wrong side from those that paid them.  I don’t think they were surprised.

I love baseball.  I like going to minor league games without all the show of the bigs to distract me.  I guess I’m like Francona in that tiny way.  If you love baseball and want an inside picture, read this book.

Red Sox pitchers and catchers report on the 12th; everyone else on the 15th.  I read that most of the pitchers have already arrived in Florida.  Bobby V. is thankfully gone.  New manager John Farrell is a baseball guy.  Maybe John Lackey will redeem himself.  Maybe we can give the young kids a chance to play and grow.  Maybe the Sox will have a winning year.  Francona is managing the Cleveland Indians and Theo is with the Cubs.  It’s spring time for baseball and anything can happen.

Photograph sportsofboston.com

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