October 1, 2011

Thank You, Terry Francona!

Sadness is not the usual emotion Red Sox fans have when the team's manager loses (or leaves) his job. That's simply another one more reason why Terry Francona was unique.

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.

27 comments:

johngoldfine said...

I hate to mention the MFY as a source of hope or inspiration, but I can think of at least one major league manager who was fired and then rehired repeatedly...so maybe it can happen here.

(Not that Tito was fired.)

Thanks for this wonderful encomium.

San Francisco Red Sox Fan said...

thanks for the post. My sentiments exactly.

laura k said...

Thank you, Terry Francona and thank you, Allan, for this post. After the comments finish rolling in, you should see to sending Francona the post.

The Omnipotent Q said...

Amen, Allan.

He made my life in New York City so much more bearable with those amazing October days in 2004.

Thank you always, Tito.

Jim said...

Seconded, thirded, fourthed etc etc. Thanks, Allan.
He really was the right guy at the right time for the Red Sox. He didn't deserve to leave with the usual Boston shit-storm but still left with dignity.
Being a life-long Red Sox fan, I was conditioned into the default drive of dumping on every bad manager's decision. Gawd knows we had enough of them. Tito cured me of that. He always had a reason.
I'll miss him and hold future managers to his standard of professionalism and respect for his own players and employers. And I really don't care what detracting fans or media think about him.

9casey said...

Amazing to think he was the manager of the geatest comeback in history and of the greatest collapses.

A lot of grown men making a lot of money have to look inside themselves and realize what has actually happened here.

The last 2 Red Sox managers have basically lost the job because of one game.
I do not remember that ever happening in baseball, most managers lose the job because the team just plain stinks.

It will be interesting to see Tito's next step.
And more interesting the Red Sox...

Allan you say you didn't see many of his press conferences, if somehow you can find video when someones cell phone rings when he his talking it is classic Jekyl and Hyde, he makes a fool out of the person in question, then just go back to ansewring the question...

accudart said...

geez, just read most GM's think Theo is going to the Cubs....saw it on Rotoworld.

JFett said...

Allan - thank you for putting into words exactly how I feel about Terry Francona and his time with the Red Sox. While I do always root for the Red Sox, I have also always cheered for those in baseball that I enjoy watching. I will cheer for what whatever team he goes to, and I will be a little jealous of them too.

Edward Lee said...

At least for me, this is 10000x worse than missing the playoffs. Thanks for everything, Terry.

Caffeinated Joe said...

Here, here! Thanks for everything, Tito!

allan said...

The last 2 Red Sox managers have basically lost the job because of one game.

This is not true. Henry wanted to dump Gump at the end of 2002, but was outvoted. Feeding the Monster outlines how Henry grumbled all during 2003. Things really came to a head in the ALDS against the A's when they found out that Gump did not hold a meeting with the hitters to go over the info that the scouts had spent 100s of hours gathering. Just ignored it!

These guys are too smart to fire a guy for one game. What is Tito's one game? The last one? (Better to fire Bot for that!)

allan said...

geez, just read most GM's think Theo is going to the Cubs....saw it on Rotoworld.

A few tweets posted to SoSH say Sox will give Theo permission to talk to Cubs.

Also, Beane (who actually accepted the Sox GM job and then changed his mind) is apparently available. ... Theo has never writen a famous book that was made into a movie, has he? Point, Beane.

Grant said...

Perfect.

Amy said...

All I can say is Amen. Thanks, Allan, for saying it just as I feel it. :(

Rob said...

I've always looked up to Tito and how good of a person he is. I looked up to the way he handled people, even in difficult situations, and mostly how he always stuck to doing what he thought was the right thing to do, even if it's the unpopular thing.

I was thoroughly depressed yesterday when word became official, and my eyes welled up when listening to him talk about how his favorite times being a manager were watching the players jump onto the piles.

He always seemed like a father figure, and that really showed up when Jon Lester threw his no-hitter.

Red Sox baseball will never be the same.

Rick (f/k/a westcoastsox) said...

Agree with all of the above.

Rick

Ewa said...

Always check the posts here but rarely comment. Thanks Allan for the post and thanks to Teets for the two championships and all the rest. It's too bad it had to end this way, but that's how it is. Maybe AGon can help you figure out how it's God's plan for you.

Tom DePlonty said...

Intelligence, wit, and tact, someone who seemed to genuinely connect with his players as people, and a total class act in his dealings with the press, even as his tenure ended the wrenching way that it did.

The Red Sox will be extremely lucky if the next manager comes close to being as good at the job as Terry Francona.

9casey said...

allan said...
Theo has never writen a famous book that was made into a movie, has he? Point, Beane.


Neither has Beane , Lewis actually wanted to shadow Theo first he said no..

9casey said...

Rob said...

Red Sox baseball will never be the same.


I guess....
Next year whomever manages this team or whomever plays for it. It will still be Red Sox baseball for me.

I was shocked when they traded Nomar midseason, dissapointed and sad.
Sad also when Tito left, but he is gone and I have to move on.

The fact remains when you play in this market and have the resources the Red Sox do , you are not expected to miss the playoffs especially not 2 years in a row and go out 3 in a row the year before.
Am I saying it is Tito's fault , by no means, but when that happens the manager is the first to go.

wardo said...

That's a fantastic read. I can't imagine who'll be wearing the blue pullover windbreaker in April, but whoever it is will have lots of gum-chewing to catch up on.

laura k said...

Am I saying it is Tito's fault , by no means, but when that happens the manager is the first to go.

So even if the manager's not at fault, he loses his job? Because of some kind of tradition, or to appease the fans and media? Makes no sense.

Rob is right, it will never be the same - nothing ever is. The Francona era will always be unique. Other managers will bring in a ring, but nothing will ever be as special as 2004. And to repeat a mere three years later - once upon a time no Sox fan dared hope for that.

It will still be the Red Sox and we'll still root for them, but I think all Sox fans will look back on the Francona era with a special joy. I don't think 2011 changes that.

Matt said...

Exactly how I've been feeling and thinking about this, but so much more articulate! Thanks.

Kathryn said...

Thank you Allan...and thank you Tito.

This is the saddest news of all from this 2011 season.

9casey said...

laura k said...


So even if the manager's not at fault, he loses his job? Because of some kind of tradition, or to appease the fans and media? Makes no sense



Makes absolutely no sense.
2004 was awesome he will always be linked to that.

But not having October baseball sucks. I dont care how many championships he won. Would I rather have a playoff berth or Tito as mangaer? A playoff berth, no doubt.....

laura k said...

So the collapse is not Francona's fault, but we choose between him and playoffs, which means that without him, we make the playoffs, even though it's not his fault.

My friend, you need to test a few of your assumptions. You're not making any sense!

MThomas said...

Thank you Allan!

This post needs to be included in your "Important" links at the top of the blog. Tito will, as you said so eloquently, always hold a special place in the heart of the fans.