At long last, Terry Francona, possibly the most loyal man in all of MLB, breaks his silence with regard to what really happened in his time with the Boston Red Sox in a forthcoming book entitled Francona: The Red Sox Years. In a published excerpt on SI.com, there is some fairly damning quotes about what actually occurred, why Francona was forced out, and behind the scenes stories about how the Red Sox went from a success story to flop in such a short period of time.
The one thing that concerns me about this book is that it was co-written with Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe, who is not an unbiased reporter in any way, shape, or form. His go to move is to insult whatever Boston team happens to be in season, so I feel that some of what the book may have to say could lose some credibility because of that, but it will be quite interesting to see exactly how much dirt Francona is willing to dish.
The first of two quotes that really caught my eye in the SI.com article was this one:
“(W)omen are definitely more drawn to the `soap opera’ and `reality-TV’ aspects of the game … They are interested in good-looking stars and sex symbols” – a reference to All-Star second baseman Dustin Pedroia.
I think it’s unfair that this is being pinned solely on the female fans, because there are plenty of male fans who are drawn to the ‘soap opera’ and ‘reality-tv’ aspect as well. These are the infamous pink-hatters of whom I have so often spoke. None of them, whether male or female are true fans, they’re simply interested in the ‘cool’ factor of being at the ‘hot’ place which is Fenway Park, for the moment (though losing certainly will change that.)
It’s long been a complaint of ‘real’ fans that ownership had sold out in order to market their team and increase profits by turning Fenway Park (and their television package with NESN) in to a cash cow by catering to people who might not actually care about the team’s success. As Francona noted in my other favorite quote:
“They come in with all these ideas about baseball, but I don’t think they love baseball,” he said. “I think they like baseball. It’s revenue, and I know that’s their right and their interest because they’re owners … and they’re good owners. But they don’t love the game. It’s still more of a toy or a hobby for them. It’s not their blood. They’re going to come in and out of baseball. It’s different for me. Baseball is my life.”
“I know that’s their right…because they’re owners.” As a fan, that’s something that is hard to read, even as it has to be acknowledged. Yes, John Henry, Tom Werner, and Larry Lucchino “own” the Boston Red Sox, but really they are more trustees. The Boston Red Sox as much as any other team in sport except perhaps the Green Bay Packers are part of the community, and in the case of the Sox, they are part of New England culture. A such, anyone who dares to call themselves a fan has a stake in the team’s success, whether or not they actually have made a financial investment. For Red Sox fans, it’s the emotional investment that has been put in over the course of generations that matters.
Henry, Werner, and Lucchino have done a lot of good things for the Red Sox, and for the city of Boston, but they have slipped up over the last several years which has made being a fan more difficult than it should be. While I would never tell anyone how to run their business, or how much money they should make off of it (it’s their business), with the Red Sox I think it is important to uphold the tradition more than anything else. It is important to field a competitive team, not one that is necessarily “sexy” so that t.v. ratings will increase. If this current ownership group is going to stick around, they need to get back to the basics, and focus on finding players that can win, rather than simply look pretty.
As for Francona, if I was a Cleveland fan, I would be heartened by his statement that “It’s not in their blood….It’s different for me. Baseball is my life.” Those are the words that I want coming out of the manager of my team, because that should be the attitude that the management and players carry on. I don’t want those who are in charge and those that are playing to do so as a ‘hobby’, I want it to be their life. I want them to spend every waking moment looking for ways to improve the team. It’s what we as fans do, why should we expect any less from them?
How’s your off-season going? Will you buy Francona’s book?
Let me know: