October 1, 2011
Thank You, Terry Francona!
He accepted the job as Red Sox manager shortly after the abrupt and soul-crushing end to the 2003 season, with the fans' frustration and the intensity of the rivalry with the Yankees at an all-time high. The first four months of the 2004 season were maddeningly ordinary, and he must have been under an unfathomable amount of pressure (in that season, and in every season since).
But we learned he was the perfect man for the job. Francona was open to progressive ideas, he grasped the Nation's connection with the team almost immediately, and although he maintained a close relationship with the front office, he could also be as goofy or irreverent as any of the players. Not living in Boston, I did not hear many of Francona's press conferences, but when I did, his interaction with the media, his responses and explanations and reassurances, were actually calming. He was an essential part of forever changing the way Red Sox fans feel about themselves, their team, and the game of baseball.
Of the Red Sox's 44 managers, Francona's "games over .500" record is the best in team history. And he became a cut-throat, no-bullshit "assassin" in October: 28-17 (.622) in post-season games and 8-0 in the World Series. Joe Cronin managed more seasons and won more games, but Francona is without question the greatest manager in Red Sox history.
He is also firmly on my list of Top 5 Red Sox - again, what long-time fan would have ever thought a manager could be as beloved as Tito - and I will be forever grateful for his steady, competent guidance of "my team". I've long said I wanted him to manage the Red Sox until he no longer wanted the job. Sadly, that day has come much quicker than I expected.
Terry Francona: I wish you as much joy and peace of mind in the years ahead as you gave me (and millions of other Red Sox fans) during those 11 exhilarating and unforgettable and surreal days in October 2004.
by allan at 1:29 PM