Terry Francona, the only living Boston Red Sox manager ever to lead the team to a World Championship, will not attend the ceremonies celebrating the 100 year Anniversary of Fenway Park this weekend before the Red Sox play the New York Yankees. The former manager, who is now an ESPN commentator, is still very hurt by the way he was treated by management after the team’s 7-20 record in September costBoston a playoff berth and cost Francona his job.
The main issue that Tito has revolves around the scandalous reports that came out after the end of the 2011 season in Bob Hohler’s piece, “Inside the Collapse” for the Boston Globe. Hohler cited sources inside the Red Sox organization who said that Francona’s failing marriage drew his attention away from his work and accused him of developing a drug abuse problem after knee surgery. Francona is still hurt by those accusations and has distanced himself from the organization he was a part of for nine years. He told Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe, “It’s a shame. I’m sure they’ll have a great event and I was part of a lot of that stuff there, but I just can’t go back there and start hugging people and stuff without feeling a little bit hypocritical.’’
Francona’s decision not to attend has drawn anger from CEO Larry Lucchino, who is often seen as the more temperamental of the Red Sox owners. Francona says that Lucchino “perturbed” and the two got into and argument over his participation. Francona also implied that owner John Henry promised to get to the bottom of the allegations made against him and then did nothing. He told Shaughnessy, “until I’m more comfortable with some answers on what happened at the end of the year, I don’t want to have much to do with the organization and that’s a shame”
There are almost certainly going to be more shots fired as Francona is working with Shaughnessy on a new book about his time as manager of the Red Sox. If his latest comments are any indication, the book will not be full of the dry, cliché-heavy verbiage that Francona was famous for in his time as manager. Unlike the attention-seeking Bob Valentine, who replaced him, Francona always keep quiet about internal issues and player conflicts.
Now that he is free of his responsibilities as manager, Francona could certainly have some interesting things to say about players like Manny Ramirez, who he once called, “the worst person in the world,” or the sulky Nomar Garciaparra. It may be that book ends up rather tame anyway, as Francona is likely to manage in the big leagues again and he could be cautious about saying to much, especially in the areas of personal conflicts and PED use.
Francona acknowledged he still feels close to many of the players. “I want [Dustin] Pedroia to hit 1,000. I want Jon Lester to win every game he ever pitches,” the former manager said. It’s a shame that the Red Sox ownership could not do more to keep Terry Francona close to the team. One of the great advances this ownership group has made has been in repairing relationships with Red Sox greats, like Carlton Fisk, that were damaged by the thoughtless and often cruel actions of their predecessors. They have failed to do as well with one of the iconic figures of their own time and that will be a dark cloud over the Fenway 100 Year Anniversary Celebration.