If you ever want to see the difference between the sports universe of the northeast and the Midwest, look no further than Boston where the Red Sox manager is reportedly out as manager of the team that blew a big lead in the wild card race in the American League East and lost a ballgame and a season this week.
Officially, Terry Francona will resign or decline an option to continue with the squad. Unofficially, someone has to pay when a team goes belly up at the wrong time.
Francona probably knew he was already finished when he had an extraordinary news conference yesterday and, basically, called his players jerks.
That would coincide with what Boston Globe writer Chad Finn had to say about the squad, in an article that makes Twin Cities sportswriters look like paid members of the teams they cover:
Talented, richly compensated players did not perform, starting with Lackey, who simply cannot return to this team or this city next year. Not only is he coming off the worst season a Red Sox starting pitcher has ever submitted, but he's a miserable, dim, finger-pointing, unaccountable wretch of a teammate, and those may be his good qualities. That the Red Sox were apparently considering acquiring lefthanded mediocrity Bruce Chen to pitch a one-game playoff if necessary tells you all you need to know about Lackey's status with the team. Pack up the sneer and the sacks of unearned cash and just go away.
Meanwhile, Ron Gardenhire, one season removed from going to the playoffs and losing -- again -- to the Yankees, will be back next year if the Twins' ownership has anything to say about it.
Gardenhire, considered last year one of the best managers in baseball, didn't get any dumber in the off-season, and yet there he sits in the record books with 99 losses.
Similarly, Francona wasn't any worse a manager than the guy who has won fewer than 90 games only twice (and won two World Series) in his stint as manager.
But Boston fans and the ownership don't cotton much to losing, no matter how many games you win. They hate the notion of jerks in the clubhouse right up until they win a World Series, and then it doesn't matter. Nothing but winning matters.
That's the difference.
There's a danger, of course, in trying to be all "northeasty" here in Minnesota. We tried firing a coach once, in the middle of a season that followed a first-place finish and a loss in the playoffs. The Minnesota Timberwolves haven't won more than 29 games in a season since.
This may be informed by my lack or sportiness, but shouldn't the responsibility of winning or losing be spread throughout the team? It's not only good leadership but the team's skill and heart that should matter.
Won't be long before the Boston media starts to dig up examples of why he should go. Including a report that starters who weren't going that day sat in the clubhouse drinking beer. Oh wait...Lackey again. Sorry.
Francona will be the Sox manager again next season...just not a red one.
@Phillip: The conventional wisdom in most sports is that if there is a breakdown between the manager/head coach and the players on a team the coach goes. This is because it is easier to replace 1 manager than 25 major league ballplayers. (Many of who are getting paid enormous amounts of guaranteed money.)
Refreshingly frank of Francona to call his team out on the behavior issues, and good for him for admitting ultimate responsibility.
His job is to manage the personalities. Big leaguers already know how to play baseball.
What made Phil Jackson such a great coach was not as much the triangle offense as his ability to deal with the egos.
In yet another sport, the buck ultimately stops with the Vikings coaching staff (Frazier) for their poor second half performances thus far.
I suspect Mr. Francona will have his choice of job offers. I would much rather see him on the north side of Chicago versus the south side.