Terry Francona went on Michael Kay’s ESPN radio show in an apparent attempt to do some damage control to repair his fading image as the innocent bystander in the Red Sox’ 2011 collapse and only succeeded in making things worse.
You can read about the appearance here on ESPN.com.
In the piece, it’s revealed that—shocker!!—Francona is working on a book with none other than reporter Dan Shaughnessy who also happened to pen the piece in which Francona aired his reasons for not attending the 100th anniversary celebration to commemorate Fenway Park.
I’m not sure which upcoming book is going to fire more vendetta-tinged salvos, Francona’s or Tony LaRussa’s.
For someone who’s viewed positively throughout baseball for his good guy persona, Francona is doing his best Gary Sheffield impersonation.
Those who remember Sheffield know that whenever a reporter needed a hot story, all he had to do was walk over to Sheffield and ask him about something that he’d insisted he wasn’t going to talk about. Sheffield would invariably reiterate that stance…then go into a long-winded rant about precisely what he said he wasn’t going to discuss. Sheffield’s reputation made it easy to dismiss his complaints whether they were valid or not. Francona’s the opposite.
Francona backtracked on his decision to go public with his gripes and then snatched Kay’s bait like a starving shark.
Here’s a clip from the above-linked ESPN article:
Kay also asked the question many around Boston have been wondering: “As you sit back on Thursday, April 12, and the Red Sox are 1-5, is there a part of you that’s absolutely elated?”
Francona laughed at first, but then said: “I wouldn’t say elated. I know what you mean, though. You know, everybody has human emotions … there are so many people there that I’ve gone through so many things with, that I care so much about. You know, somebody asked me yesterday and I said ‘I hope (Dustin) Pedroia hits 1.000 and I hope (Jon) Lester wins every game.’ … At the same time, I recognize the way things ended there didn’t make me very happy. And actually really hurt me. And I’m aware of that also. So, you try to balance it a little bit. But being vindictive is not a good way to go through life. And I hope I’m not that way.”
No, the Red Sox are not playing well. Yes, it’s natural for Francona to feel a certain amount of satisfaction that they’re going poorly without him. But this looks and sounds bad because it is bad in perception and practice.
Would the Red Sox be better with Francona? If Francona had stayed, Theo Epstein was going to stay as well, so the construction of the club would be radically different. We don’t know what they’d look like with a different GM and manager, who would and wouldn’t be on the team.
It’s a question that can’t be answered.
What he’s doing is distracting and unfair to the club that gave him an opportunity that other teams weren’t prepared to give him in a situation that was ready-made to win immediately.
It’s clearly intentional payback.
Regardless of how it ended with the Red Sox, Francona’s in a far better position now with a lot more money in the bank and industry-wide respect that wasn’t there when he was fired by the Phillies after a four-year tenure of 285-363.
He wasn’t hired by the Red Sox because they were expecting the reincarnation of Connie Mack. He was hired by the Red Sox because the Red Sox were trying to get Curt Schilling to agree to a trade to Boston and Francona was an agreeable choice to the pitcher; Francona was willing to take short money for the opportunity; and he would do what Grady Little didn’t do—take orders from the front office.
This labeling of Francona being a “great” manager is directly connected to the results he achieved. That Red Sox team in 2004 was very good and it wasn’t his mere presence that was the final piece in the championship puzzle. They would’ve been good with or without Francona.
The Red Sox have earned the right to celebrate their ballpark and try to right the ship on the field. Francona’s gloating makes him look petty and babyish and won’t be lost on any club that considers hiring him as their manager in the future. He may feel safe in his new broadcasting job and is trying to retaliate for the shoddy manner in which he was treated when the Red Sox let him go, but he’s making himself look terrible and it’s casting the Red Sox in a far more sympathetic light than they were in before.
Francona needs to shut up.
On another Red Sox-related note, the football club their ownership purchased that was supposedly siphoning money away from the Red Sox—Liverpool FC—has made their own change at the top. This clip is from the NY Times:
Liverpool dismissed its director of football, Damien Comolli, after criticism of his transfer strategy since he was hired 16 months ago. Liverpool has spent $183 million on players since Comolli joined the club, but expensive recruits like Andy Carroll, Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing have failed to impress.
You can read analysis of this maneuver here.
Is Comolli going to go on Kay’s show? Will he write a book?
The mess has gone international and it shows no signs of abating any time soon.