Francona’s new book a home run or a foul ball?
A year removed from being fired, former Red Sox manager Terry Francona is still making waves in the Sox organization. Francona was labeled as a scapegoat for the “September Collapse” in the 2011 season after the Sox went from the best team in baseball to the butt of a joke within three weeks. As bad as they were in 2011, they were worse in 2012, this time manager Bobby Valentine took the fall and was promptly kicked out of Boston. The Sox have gradually fallen off the radar over the past few years which causes fans to question whether the problem is with the managers or the organization.
Francona co-wrote a new book with Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy titled Francona: The Red Sox Years. The book is largely commemorative of Francona’s time as manager of the Red Sox however, he also provides insight into changes within the Red Sox organization especially regarding the ownership. Why Francona and former GM Theo Epstein left in such a hurry after the 2011 season was largely a mystery, but with Francona’s new book on the shelves there is a clue to why both men left and never looked back.
“I don’t think they love baseball,” Francona says in the book. “I think they like baseball. It’s revenue, and I know that’s their right and their interest because they’re owners … It’s still more of a toy or hobby for them. It’s not their blood. They’re going to come in and out of baseball. It’s different for me. Baseball is my life.”
Larry Lucchino, co-owner of the Sox, once labeled the New York Yankees as the “evil empire,” could it be that the Sox have fallen prey to the monster they fought for years?
“They told us we didn’t have any marketable players. We need some sexy guys. Talk about the tail wagging the dog,” former general manager Theo Epstein says in the book. “We’d become too big. It was the farthest thing removed from what we set out to be.”
Indeed, since the Sox won the World Series in 2007 and were crowned the best team of the decade the team has changed. When they let Victor Martinez and Adrián Beltré walk in favor of Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez the Red Sox organization sent a message that they had moved on from the gang of loveable losers to a marketable product. In 2011 the owners attempted to appease angry and tired players with trips on a yacht and brand new headphones. Obviously things did not work out.
Ben Cherington has stayed far away from big contracts and star power, providing a little hope to a tired and weary fanbase. Even with $270 million at his disposal he turned down the likes of superstar Josh Hamilton for players like Jonny Gomes and Ryan Dempster. The Sox have been a successful organization, yet it seems that in their fame they forgot what got them there in the first place. Let’s hope that the Sox get back on the right track in 2013.