Terry Francona should go down as the best Manager in Sox history.
Now the darkness only stays the nighttime
In the morning it will fade away
Daylight is good at arriving at the right time
It's not always gonna be this grey
All things must pass
All things must pass away
-George Harrison, "All Things Must Pass"
Terry Francona and his 8 year run with the Red Sox is over. It's a sad day for us fans as Tito has been such a staple in our lives, and has been an excellent blend of character, patience, and even temperament. He was the consummate players Manager, never giving up on his troops while always believing in them. If it weren't for Tito who knows if Pedroia would have been allowed the opportunity to blossom into the leader and player he is today. His slump was epic to start his first year, with many calling for him to be benched. Tito stood by Pedroia though, allowing him to not only get out of his slump, but to win the Rookie of the Year.
There's many examples like this throughout Francona's career in Boston - and he was a great bridge between the new school ideology of the front office, and the old school grind of the field. His approval rating has always been high in Boston, a traditionally challenging place to Manage, and he was the man who finally helped bring winning back to Yawkey Way.
Francona was not solely responsible for the Team's success, nor was he solely responsible for their collapse this year. I do believe 8 years is a long time to have this job though, and I think he would have to be super human to not have worn down some. His biggest strength, being an incredible players Manager, may have led to too lax of an environment in the clubhouse over the years. Whatever the reason, they were not a hungry Team this year, and that has to be the Manager's responsibility. He had more talent than most Clubs could dream of, even with down years and injuries, and he failed to inspire. Not once in September did he get thrown out, call players out in the media, or do anything visible to light a spark. He allowed Lackey to punk him all year and generally seemed tired, burnt out, and to be going through the motions.
Again, I blame Tito for nothing, he's not only my all-time favorite Manger of the Red Sox , but of any Boston sports Team in my lifetime. I do believe change was needed though, and this isn't going to be the first or last change that's going to happen. Theo may be in Chicago, Papi and Paps easily could be somewhere else, and who knows what else will happen. This isn't ownership or management blaming Tito for anything, it's just them addressing deep issues. Looking for one reason for the collapse is like looking for one reason for the recession, unfortunately it's not that simple. I will say this though, whoever ends up replacing Francona is going to have some big assed shoes to fill. Do not envy that guys at all, people loved Tito so much it's going to feel like a Step Dad's taking over.
Francona should go out with his head high and chest puffed out, he's the best there ever was in Boston. Harrison may have said is best, while it's dark today, it won't last, and the Red Sox will win again. "After all this my love is up and must be leaving, It's not always gonna be this grey."