By Sterling Pingree
I like to think that I read a lot. My annual reading output is about 50 books per year, with my goal always being to read a book per week. I am a very seasonal reader, meaning in this case, that I like to read books that are the most applicable to what is happening on the sports calendar at that time. During the fall and winter I will read a lot of football books, baseball and golf dominate the summer. Last week, as we headed in the Major League Baseball All-Star break, I took a book off of my shelf for a re-read. I do this from time to time, a book that I enjoyed the first time will get another lap around the track. The All-Star Game and the news that Terry Francona would unfortunately miss the game, put the idea in my head that now would be a good time to read: Francona by Terry Francona with Dan Shaughnessy.
Francona is really good for a book that came out so soon after the events that it describes. It was released in early 2013, after Francona had taken the Indians head job and John Farrell had replaced the disaster that was Bobby Valentine in Boston. The former Red Sox skipper is remarkably candid throughout the tome as he describes meetings and instances with GM Theo Epstein. The relationship and admiration that Francona and Epstein had while leading the Red Sox to two world championships is evident throughout the story. It would not be a stretch to say that Epstein was the bridge between the manager and Red Sox ownership. With all of Epstein’s first person accounts, not to mention his departure shortly after Francona, this book could easily have been called “Tito and Theo”.
There are startling revelations throughout, such as the time that Tom Werner said that NESN ratings were down and the team needed to win games in more exciting ways. It is also a lot of fun to relieve these events that really didn’t happen all that long ago, but it’s funny what you happen to forget. Remember when the Red Sox refused to take the field in Spring Training because on the impending trip to Japan, the team’s coaches were not going to be paid. Or what about the start of that season when the Sox went to Japan to play two exhibition games, two real games against Oakland and then flew to Los Angeles to play an exhibition game at the LA Coliseum and a second at Chavez Ravine before resuming their regular season in Oakland and Toronto. Who could’ve possibly thought that this was a good idea?
Reading Francona is a lot like having a class with an ex-girlfriend that you really liked. It’s good to see her, it’s good to spend some time together, but you really wish things hadn’t have gone the way that they did. In a very real sense, you miss Terry Francona as the manager of the Red Sox. You miss him even more in hindsight, after you’ve lived through the disaster that was Bobby Valentine and the up and down tenure of John Farrell. Chicken, beer and the September collapse in 2011 did in Tito in Boston. It’s been almost 6 years since Francona has been the manager of the Red Sox, which is incredible to think about because it seems like just yesterday. I guess that’s the recall you should have for the best manager in team history.
Sterling Pingree (@SterlingPingree on Twitter) is a co-host on The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.