All good things must end. Sadly, some fizzle out a lot quicker than you’d expect.
And so did the storied relationship between Manager Terry Francona and the Red Sox end on Friday when owner John Henry passed on picking-up the future HOFer’s option.
The man who helped engineer two victory parades in eight years for the Hub City apparently hadn’t built-up the goodwill to weather a storm of hissy-fits that swept New England in the wake of one of baseball’s biggest September swoons.
Tito’s now fully appreciating how Teddy Ballgame felt while playing up to the sky-high expectations of Beantown baseball fans.
As the story goes, Ted Williams began his long-running snub of Fenway faithful after he’d been roundly booed for misplaying a fly ball. “Williams wouldn’t tip his cap after hitting a home run because he wouldn’t give the fans the satisfaction of claiming they forced him to acknowledge their applause (Baseball Digest / Meany / 3-66).”
The difference in their circumstance is that the Splendid Splinter couldn’t leave town. Back in those days, players were merely chattel, prisoners of the reserve clause. Today they have choices. If feeling under-appreciated, a sport star can seek out friendlier confines without having to appease their blow-with-the-wind, malleable ownership.
Francona spoke on Friday: “(It was the) frustration at my inability to effectively reach the players…(that convinced me) it was time for me to move on” (ESPN ticker / 9-30).
This writer’s not buying it. If every manager split town just because he had some trouble communicating with his roster there wouldn’t be any managers left.
The Suits freaked when the collapse was complete. Mr. Henry, et al. let themselves get swept-away by the tide of stupidity & arrogance flowing from the mouths of local radio and then amplified by national media. Scalawags & scumbags. Terry never had a chance.
To have been a fly on the wall at Francona’s Thursday meeting. He couldn’t believe his ears. When the Suits demanded an explanation that Terry couldn’t give them, he knew he was going under the bus, Epstein’s later claim notwithstanding: “We don’t believe in scapegoats (“Francona” / SI.com / JH / 9-30).” But human speed-bumps Theo, why not?
Though it sounded like all of greater Boston was fuming & fomenting on Thursday, I suspect the vast majority, while disappointed, were taking it all in stride. Collapses in sport are about as common today as no-hitters and missed-tackles.
What the Red Sox faithful should’ve been doing was swarming every AM radio station in a fifty-mile radius, hauling out the blowhards behind the mikes, finding the nearest ship and giving ‘em all a good, old-fashioned keelhauling in Boston Harbor.
Francona was the new Red Sox. A fresh face who guided a long-suffering organization to two Series sweeps under the wanting eyes of a fan base that believed it was cursed.
Expect a new Boston manager ASAP to help close the book on Terry. But the sporting gods have long memories. Just like they’re not forgetting how Notre Dame and Brian Kelly left Cincinnati high & dry before the biggest bowl game in their history.
The gods don’t punish teams because of a bad trade (Ruth ‘19) or a pissy fan (billy-goat). They’re not morons. If they did every club in the League would have a holy man on staff. They’re reasonable deities. You’ve gotta’ screw-up big time to engender their wrath.
Welcome to the big time Red Sox nation. “Evil Empire” in the Bronx? How ‘bout Brat Pack by the Bay?
About the Author
Written by Steven Keys
A native of the old Northwest Territory (IL), my wife and I have lived in four Midwestern states and Arizona. Today we live in Duluth, Georgia. I have a history / legal background.