Sox ownership again clueless with Terry Francona
|04.11.12 at 12:56 pm ET|
So Terry Francona will not be at Fenway Park next Friday for the 100th anniversary celebration (maybe you’ve heard about it) because he’s still pissed off at John Henry and Larry Lucchino for either a) directly participating or b) not attempting to prevent what amounted to a character assassination after he was fired (which is really what happened, don’t kid yourself) at the end of last season.
Good for Terry Francona.
First: This isn’t about whether or not Francona should still be managing the Red Sox this season. We can debate that forever, but the biggest collapse in baseball history plus zero postseason wins in three years with a monster budget each season plus clubhouse chaos at the end makes termination justifiable. Doesn’t mean it was handled anywhere close to properly, but guys have been fired for a hell of a lot less.
Also this: I’m getting slightly tired of Francona’s pity party. He’s made it plenty clear in plenty of places — with the Dan Shaughnessy column on Wednesday as the latest example — that he’s not thrilled with how he was treated. We get it. I understand that Francona’s angry, but it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to lay low on the topic from now on. Quit while you are ahead, and he’s got about a 50-length lead on Henry and Lucchino right now.
But I’m going to assume that Francona is painting an accurate picture to Shaughnessy (it should be noted that Francona and Shaughnessy are collaborating on a book) regarding his conversations with Lucchino and Henry about participating in the 100th anniversary. If that’s the case, how does this make Lucchino look?
“Larry called me yesterday,” Francona said Tuesday. “I was in a phone store in Arizona. I had three people standing around me. I was at a little bit of a disadvantage. He got a little perturbed at me, telling me I was being unfair to them. I called him back last night and left him a message. He called me back and we ended up getting into an argument. I just feel like someone in the organization went out of their way to hurt me and the more we talked I realized we’re just not on the same wavelength. They’re probably better off going forth and leaving me out of it.”
Totally clueless and tone deaf. Think about it: They fire the guy, kill him after he leaves and are now begging him to come back to help them save face with the public? Hubris colliding with desperation.
Look, it could be that everything Bob Hohler wrote about Francona in that story was accurate, there haven’t been a whole lot of denials flying around. But that’s not really the point, though, is it? Francona is right — someone in that organization (off the record) blasted him, went a long way in damaging his reputation and maybe cost him a job this offseason.
And now Lucchino and Henry (who didn’t return Francona’s phone calls at the end of the last season and didn’t contact Francona — kind of a significant figure in franchise history — until February) want him to forget all that, put on a happy face and dance for their benefit next Friday. Does it get more arrogant than that?
And Francona did what you and I and anyone else would want to do to a boss that we feel screwed us — blow them off and did so in a very public way.
This isn’t about budgets or NESN or Linda Pizzuti (though it’s OK to wonder how prominent a role she plays in all things Red Sox) or Bobby Valentine or Ben Cherington or bullpens. This is about common decency, simply doing the right thing. And, in that regard, Lucchino and Henry failed Francona. This is George Steinbrenner stuff (Yogi Berra didn’t show up at Yankee Stadium for a decade and a half after Steinbrenner fired him in 1985), just a perfect example of how not to handle a delicate situation. But that seems to be the modus operandi with Lucchino and Henry — when does it end well?
Terry Francona has said enough. Time to move on. One could argue, I suppose, that he could show up for the fans next week, that’s he’s being selfish (and he’d unquestionably get the biggest ovation). But I suspect he feels doing that would signal that he’s OK – to some extent – with Lucchino and Henry, that there has been some degree of reconciliation. And he clearly has no interest in spreading that message.
Good for him.
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