Thank you, Terry Francona.
Thank you for eight years of solid management. You brought two championships to the city of Boston, a city that had been so starved for baseball success. You did it with class as one of the game’s most likable skippers. And despite the team’s horrific collapse this season, you deserve nothing but gratitude for what your teams accomplished.
Instead, you’ve become the latest victim of a shameful Beantown tradition.
When players and coaches who had been fixtures in Boston begin to fail, the city turns on them quickly and decisively. There is no middle ground in Boston; you are either a hero or a goat. After such a poor finish, everyone was looking for someone to blame, and while the powers that be refused to lay the blame at your feet initially, it was only a matter of time until it happened.
Once you and the team agreed to part ways, the spin machine fired up. All the good things you did were lost in a maelstrom of base accusations and salacious gossip.
Welcome to the Boston media spotlight.
Ask former manager Grady Little about smear campaigns. Ask Nomar Garciaparra. Ask Pedro Martinez. One thing that Sox fans should truly hate about this organization is the way it loves to throw its outgoing members under the bus.
It’s disgusting, juvenile behavior.
Gordon Edes recently pointed out that Francona is the latest target of the franchise’s embarrassing spite. “Team sources” huddle with local media outlets to sling mud, but the only people getting dirty are the rumor-mongering idiots who perpetuate this nonsense. You deserve better, Tito.
You don’t deserve to be labeled a pill popper. You don’t deserve the implication that you turned a blind eye to clubhouse debauchery. Instead of being celebrated as the successful manager you were, you’re being accused of drug addiction and personal frailties that negatively impacted your job performance.
The Red Sox and local media would have us believe that your alleged marital problems are why the team floundered its way through September. It would have us view you as a strung-out, negligent bum who let his team go to pot.
True Red Sox fans know exactly what they had in Francona the manager, and you will be sorely missed by those who actually understand the game. We’re not taken in by these middle school antics. Members of the Boston media who participate in this underhanded scheme ought to be ashamed of themselves; they would do well to stop disgracing their profession and start reporting real news.
And what of the team’s ownership? It’s reprehensible that John Henry, Larry Lucchino, and Tom Werner would allow this to happen. And at the end of the day, they bear the responsibility. Do they and others in power within the organization somehow think that this Tito-bashing will endear the team to an angry public? Do they think that any rational person is buying into this?
What’s next, revelations about Theo Epstein as he departs for Chicago? Will we suddenly discover that he had a gambling problem, or a secret and debilitating late night love affair with chocolate?
Sorry, but we see right through it. And it makes it difficult to remain a fan.
Classy organizations don’t do this. They shake hands and they offer best wishes to the men who helped them hoist the hardware.
I won’t apologize for their gross actions because they should do that on their own. If they any respect for the game, the Red Sox owners would get the word out to the media and to these “team sources” to cut the crap.
I won’t apologize for them. I’ll simply say thanks to a guy who ended 86 years of misery. Good luck, Tito. I hope you’re treated better by your next city, fans, and employers.