More excerpts from the book Terry Francona: The Red Sox Years appeared in print this week. It is not surprising that Tito, class act that he is, refrained from knocking some of the players that apparently got him fired in 2011. Unlike Joe Torre, who skewered A-Rod and Kevin Brown in his book, Francona is mostly positive about the guys who played for him. He chronicles Manny Ramirez' bad times, but also mentions some humorous ones, like Manny forgetting the team's signs.
An article by Chris Finn in Tuesday's Globe describes some of the comments. On Pedro Martinez: "(He) was tough on me. He was used to doing things his way." On Nomar Garciaparra: "(He) was just "Bostoned out" in 2004...It was obvious he wasn't happy, and it was a strain on your team." On Johnny Damon: "He was dependable. He tried hard to do the right thing." On Curt Schilling: "He says stuff once a week that he shouldn't and takes it back."
Francona is not as generous toward ownership, and it is obvious that he blames men like CEO Larry Lucchino for his unhappy departure. But where were Tito's players in 2011? Apparently no one stuck up for him during the "chicken and beer" slide? Were his starting pitchers too busy drinking beer in the clubhouse? Was Adrian Gonzales saying only "it wasn't God's will that we win". Where were "spokesmen" like Dustin Pedroia and Jonathan Papelbon? It seemed in those sad September weeks that the team was in free-fall no one cared much except the fans and writers.
How different the Sox were from their "slide counterparts" in 1978. With the Sox collapsing from 6 1/2 games ahead of the Yankees on September 1 to 3 1/2 behind three weeks later, some players showed they cared. Feisty shortstop Rick Burleson commented: "The abuse we have taken and must be prepared to take for an entire winter we richly deserve." Before a game in Toronto Luis Tiant remarked: "If we lose today it will be over my dead body. They'll have to leave me face down on the mound." Despite throwing 172 pitches (a number unheard of today) Looie won. With stars showing strong leadership, Boston rallied to tie the Yankees and force a playoff.
Many of those 2011 slide guys are still with the team. They have a capable manager in John Farrell, but they have a lot to prove.