Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

So this happened…

I'll miss you Tito...and your pullovers too! (Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor and used with permission)

I’ve avoided this long enough, eh?

I’m still stunned, I think, because I haven’t had any kind of major emotional reaction to the news about Terry Francona.  I didn’t cry or yell or even gasp when I heard the news.  Yesterday was a day I had nothing planned so I ended up sitting in front of my computer and the television all day, literally from before 8 in the morning to well after 8 in the evening, reading and watching speculation, and waiting for confirmation. As much as I wanted it to not be true (and was so hoping that the members of the Boston sports media would all end up with egg on their faces), deep down, as it was all unfolding, I knew it was going to be true. I knew by day’s end Terry Francona would no longer be the manager of the Boston Red Sox.

And still, I wasn’t sure how I felt.  I didn’t want him fired.  I certainly didn’t think he deserved that after all these years and all he has helped this team accomplish.  But then what are the alternatives?  A lot of people are mad at the ownership team.  Many kept repeating last night that they would rather see John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino gone than Tito or Theo Epstein and, I have to say, I’m not in that group.  I love Tito and I kept thinking last night how happy I was that I had been able to thank him for all he’s done, but if I’m being practical I think it’s important for the team to have owners who aren’t afraid to throw their money around in an attempt to keep up with the Yankees.  Sure there have been acquisitions that didn’t pan out (I feel it’s too early to pin that label on Carl Crawford but I’m looking straight at John Lackey) but, on the whole, the decisions that Theo was allowed to make, fueled by the knowledge that he could make them, are an important part of why this team has been successful.  Tito was an important part of that too, but when your manager says that he doesn’t think he can make an impact with the players, well since you can’t get rid of all the players I suppose getting a different manager is what has to happen.

I’m sad that Tito felt things got so bad it was better for him to leave.  I’m frustrated that there are players in the clubhouse that forced Tito into making the decision to leave and, if I’m being honest, I’m annoyed that we don’t know who these players are.  Is it the rumored pitching triumvirate of Beckett, Lackey and Lester, drinking beers in the clubhouse on nights they aren’t pitching and forming a “clique” that couldn’t be penetrated? Is it some of the veteran players like Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek, happy but lazy since they’ve accomplished what they want so they’ve settled into that attitude of “entitlement” that Tito mentioned last night?  We’ll never know because Tito is too good a guy to tell us so now we’re left with a clubhouse that will have us wondering every time they take the field.

After Tito’s press conference last night, Tom Werner, Larry Lucchino and Theo Epstein took to the microphone for their own presser and Theo made it clear that Tito “doesn’t hate any of the players”, saying that after his press conference, Tito told him he was bothered by the idea the media was perpetrating (based on his comments) that he felt that way and telling Theo he “loved” those guys.  That’s Tito for you, loyal until the end.  And part of me is pleased that he chose that road instead of throwing everyone under the bus but part of me wishes we knew more.  Sure we root for the laundry but when the best manager this team has ever had leaves because, after 8 years, he can’t deal with the clubhouse any more…well I don’t mind saying I’d like to see a little blood shed in that clubhouse (figuratively, of course).

Yesterday, Tito did two things I didn’t think possible, he make me forget how miserable I was about Wednesday night and he stole the spotlight away from the Rays and the Yankees being in the playoffs.  Things that would please me if I wasn’t so confused about how I feel about his leaving.

I’m sad for him and I’m sad for us but there is a small part of me way deep down that is hoping this is the beginning of another good period for the Red Sox.  When they hired Terry Francona there were very few people short of Curt Schilling who were excited about the move.  We had no idea what to expect (many of us only knew Tito because of how much Philadelphia Phillies fans hated him) and, after 2003, didn’t exactly have high hopes.  That turned out amazing.  And while I know we can never duplicate exactly what happened under Tito, I’m choosing to be hopeful that, once again, a change can be good. I’m sorry that change is coming at the expense of Terry Francona, though, and that’s the part that will always sting.

People keep asking me how I feel about this and it took me this long to write anything because I wasn’t sure. If you’re making me use one word, though, it would have to be sad. For many reasons I’m just really sad that we’ve come to this.  Even through that sadness, I’m holding on to the idea that once we get through this post-season and then the hot stove season, we’ll have something to hope for in 2012.

Goodbye, good luck and thank you, Tito.  There will never be another era like yours.


October 1, 2011 - Posted by | 2011 | ,

1 Comment »

  1. Terry Francona was like the favorite uncle, who always did and said things that left you amazed at his clarity and commitment to being the best he could be – and he was.

    It’s taken me a few days to sort out his impact in leaving he team.

    To the very end, he worked in the best interests of the Boston Red Sox, doing one last monumental, selfless act; he will cause a lot of change and get some of the laundry washed, changed and replaced.

    Knowing he could not reach the players in a way that had become his style, which saw his won percentages and post season record something to admire, it was never about difficult egos, IMO.

    Jeez, he dealt with Manny, Nomar, Pedro and Curt under the big top known as the the Sox locker room. He had other players in Damon and Millar, jokers to the last who could cause anyone to wince when they opened their mouths. And yet, he managed all of that.

    This, though, the isolation of a clique was something he apparently could not break through was very different. In my opinion, he broke it up by leaving the club he managed – selfless to the last.

    I have no idea who will take his place, but Larry’s reaction of being puzzled over Tito saying he might have liked more FO support leaves me to wonder about how bad the situation was. Did he ask them for help and their doors were closed? Did Larry, the guy who has always favored stars on the Sox take the easy road?

    FWIW, I was struck dumb when Wake’s comments about coming back for another season in an attempt to break a personal record was happening at the same time Francona chose to leave the team.

    The Sox are a mess and the guy who knew how to straighten most of that out is now at home, hopefully getting some deserved rest.

    I’m going to miss him, even though I know the world will not come to an end. And when the day comes he’s back to walk on Fenway’s grass, I want to be there. I want to raise my voice with the thousands of others who would welcome him home…

    Comment by Tru | October 2, 2011 | Reply

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