Since the Boston Red Sox blew a 9 game lead in the race for the AL Wild-Card (not to mention they were competing for the AL East title after the All-Star Break) rumors have been swirling that they will be parting ways with Manager Terry Francona. The club holds options to keep Francona around for the 2012 and 2013 seasons, but last week they announced they would not be exercising those options. In short, Francona has been fired.
The owners of the Red Sox must be out of their minds. We are talking about a guy who won two World Series Championships in just 8 seasons… for a club and a town that had desperately been seeking World Series bling for the previous EIGHTY-SIX years!
To pour salt down the wound, Francona won his first title in 2004 in his first season as manager of the Red Sox, and he did it in as historic and dramatic a fashion one could hope. Even to me, a die-hard New York Yankees fan, I must admit that seeing the Sox come back from a three games to zero deficit in the ALCS and then go on to sweep the helpless St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series was one of the craziest things I’ve ever witnessed in sports. (Prior to this, no MLB team had ever come back from such a deficit.)
Just two years later, the Red Sox again dispatched of the Yankees in the playoffs, only to find themselves down 3 games to 1 and facing elimination versus the Cleveland Indians. To the dismay of every Indians fan on the planet, Francona somehow guided his team through 3 straight wins to another World Series appearance. Just like in 2004, the Sox swept their foe, bringing Francona’s record in the World Series to 8-0.
Yet just 5 short years later, Francona found himself on the hot seat, specifically for missing the playoffs 2 straight years and blowing a 9 game Wild Card lead in September. Sure, blowing a lead like that is bad, but you know whats worse… 94 years without a title, which is exactly what Boston would have if it weren’t for Francona.
Some people are speculating that Francona quit, and even Francona gave some lame excuse about “not being able to reach the players.” Sounds like a bullshit cop-out to me. If he quit, more power to him—after all, who would want to work in an environment where your historically good work is unappreciated and your ass is put on the hot-seat just a few years after delivering what your owners (and fans) would have killed for prior to your arrival?!
Everyone knows that Boston’s owners & fans have high expectations, but apparently they are higher than anyone realized. It would appear that constantly competing with the Yankees (one of the greatest franchises in all of sports), winning 2 titles in 8 years and ending the worst drought in the history of professional sports only buys you 5 years of good grace. I feel sorry for Francona’s replacement but I certainly don’t feel sorry for the Red Sox… firing Francona is doing the Yankees a huge favor!