I love the Boston Red Sox. Ever since I was born again during the Era of Nomah and shed the last of my Evil Empire allegiance, the Red Sox have become a fabric of my life, my daily oxygen. So I devour anything that is Red Sox, and today’s Boston Globe story about the factors that led to the team’s epic September collapse was required reading for me.
The piece, written by the excellent Bob Hohler with help from Nick Cafardo and Peter Abraham, reveals the story of a team in turmoil, with so much detail that is begs the question: are the owners of Red Sox vindictive employers? Are they using the media to disclose personal and painful information about the manager, Terry Francona, that in essence, ownership stop supporting? And what does it say about The Globe, which is owned by The New York Times, who by the way, is a minority of the Red Sox.
This article, which cites several anonymous sources from all levels of the Red Sox organization, reveals way too much information about Francona and why he left as the team’s manager. It is a shameless and heartless PR attempt to smear and discredit the accomplishments of a manager who has won two World Series in the 21st century for a franchise that before 2004, had not won since 1918.
As the article states:
Team sources said Francona, who has acknowledged losing influence with some former team leaders, appeared distracted during the season by issues related to his troubled marriage and to his health.
Francona spent the season living in a hotel after he moved out of the Brookline home he shared with Jacque, his wife of nearly 30 years. But he adamantly denied his marital problems affected his job performance.
Translation: Francona was not a good employee because he had marital issues and personal problems. Hence, he was no longer capable of remaining an employee of the organization.
Team sources also expressed concern that Francona’s performance may have been affected by his use of pain medication, which he also vehemently denied. Francona said he has taken pain medicine for many years, particularly after multiple knee surgeries. He said he used painkillers after knee surgery last October and used them during the season to relieve the discomfort of doctors draining blood from his knee at least five times.
So instead of placing the blame on bad free agent signings (John Lackey, Carl Crawford, to name just two), instead of actually coming out in public during the year á la George Steinbrenner and demanding that the team ship into shape, the ownership of the Boston Red Sox (John Henry, Tom Werner, Larry Lucchino) stayed silent during the year, which suggests that they never wanted to publicly support Francona during his time of personal crisis in the first place, and then in a classic “not out fault” move, they went ahead and reveal private information that should be kept between an employer and its employee. Does Francona have a good lawyer?
We will say that Francona has stayed classy throughout this fractured relationship. As he told The Globe:
“It makes me angry that people say these things because I’ve busted my [butt] to be the best manager I can be,’’ Francona said. “I wasn’t terribly successful this year, but I worked harder and spent more time at the ballpark this year than I ever did.’
Francona has every right to be angry. It was clear that he handled his departure from the team with class a few weeks ago, but now the team has decided to share personal information about him that quite frankly have nothing to do with his job performance? If you are not happy with his skills as a manager, just say that he couldn’t handle his players right this year. But to suggest that it was because he was worried about his marriage and he was on painkillers is sad.
No wonder Boston GM Theo Epstein is leaving the Red Sox and going to the Chicago Cubs.