Francona: '08 was the best team I had in Boston


Francona: '08 was the best team I had in Boston

Just like John Farrell on Tuesday, Terry Francona drew quite a crowd when he met the media Wednesday . . . from Cleveland (since he now manages the Indians) and Boston (since . . . well, you know).

And he had plenty of things to say about the Red Sox, such as a) he felt the 2008 team, which lost to Tampa Bay in the ALCS, was the best he had in Boston, b) he's "very thankful" Dave Roberts was safe because "I probably would have gone home" otherwise, and b) he hopes people will buy the book he and Dan Shaughnessy wrote after he left the Red Sox.

What he had to say about the Sox . . .

Terry, what's it been like for you kind of the last couple of years, from Boston to ESPN and now back to the game. Describe what it's been like the last couple of years for you.
"Uneven. A little bit of a roller coaster. I think you go back to September of '11, and that was tough, man. I don't care what city you're in. When you go 7 and whatever, 20, if you're the manager, you're wide open for criticism. That's just the way it is.

"And the way things ended was difficult. I thought stepping back was probably a smart thing. It's not necessarily the easiest thing in the world to tell yourself you need to do that, but it was, I think, really healthy for me. I know I get back into it now feeling like I'm better prepared to do the job correctly because it's got to be almost 24 hours a day to do it right, at least I think so. I was pretty beaten up by the end of that last year."

Terry, when you were with the Red Sox, a lot of times your team would beat middle to small market teams to a free agent. You were on the other side of that yesterday with Victorino. What's it like being on the other side of that?
". . . You know what, it's kind of hard to fault a guy like Shane Victorino for going to Boston. When guys get to be a free agent, they earn that right to go wherever they want, and it's a great baseball town.

"Again, I have a lot of respect for him and the way he went about his decision. So it's kind of hard to fault somebody for that."

Terry, this is different, obviously, from your last job. For you coming in, how is it different?
"When I took the job in Boston, the expectations were win or go home. I remember being very thankful that Dave Roberts was safe. I probably would have gone home.

"This is a little different now. We're younger. We're not in the same position. But our expectations, at least in my opinion, are still the same. We're supposed to try to win.
So general manager Chris Antonetti and I and all the guys are trying to put together the best roster we can, and when it's time to put a uniform on, that's when I get really excited, and we try to have our guys play the game correctly."

Terry, the Giants are now in a very similar position as you guys were after '07, a franchise that had not won the World Series in decades and suddenly wins two in a short spell. Did something change after '07, as far as expectations, challenges from other teams, or anything along those lines?
"No, I don't think so. People ask, is it hard to repeat? It's hard to win. And what happens is you try to put yourself in a position to win every year because things go wrong.

"I thought to be honest with you, I thought '08 was our best team. I really did. Josh Beckett had that intercostal issue. And Tampa beat us. That was our best team. We got beat by a really good team, and Beckett wasn't quite able to be the Beckett from the year before. But you put yourself in that position to give yourself a chance, and sometimes you're fortunate enough to win."

Terry, you have a book coming out this winter. What's the reaction to that going to be in Boston?
"I don't know. I hope people want to buy it."

But do you expect there to be fallout?
"Fallout? I hope people buy it. I spent a lot of time. No, I think it's more it's eight years of a lot of funny, some emotional, a couple sad things. I think co-author Dan Shaughnessy busted his rear end on this thing.

"The fact that, first of all, me and him were together doing it was a shock to me."

How did that happen?
"I don't know. First time I picked him up, I told him, you have to blackout the windows because I don't want people to see you driving me around. It ended up being probably I had a year where I could do it because under normal circumstances, you can't do it. And it ended up being kind of fun.

"I think, for the most part, if somebody ends up being bent out of shape, that was not ever the intent. It was just to kind of tell the story, and I hope that people take it that way because I think it's a really good story."

The way things ended in Boston is obviously tough on you emotionally. Now that some time has passed and you're back in the game, are you a little more at peace?"You know what, I never had a problem. I think it's a little bit of a misrepresentation. If you really think about it, it wasn't like all of September me and you guys were feuding. We had a really tough September. It was a rough, uphill battle for us. We were leaking oil like every day, but our biggest concern was to trying to get to the playoffs.
"We didn't deal with any of those issues until after the season. So it was kind of weird. I didn't have a chance to like sit back and think about not having that job. Two days later, I was defending myself. So it was hurtful. And where it went from there was disappointing, but time does have a way of I don't want to go through life being I don't know if vindictive is the right word. I don't know if that's healthy.

"I have too many people there that are too special. I was disappointed with the way it ended, and I'll probably always feel that way, but it doesn't mean it wasn't a great seven years and five months."

Is it sort of cathartic a little bit to get out there and see the ovation?
"I was conflicted. I'll be pretty honest about it. I wasn't planning on doing it. I talked to some people who told me maybe I was a being a little too selfcentered. I wasn't too thrilled about that. I was glad to be there, and I was glad to leave.

"But I've never felt like besides that one guy in the third row that used to scream at me, I thought Boston it's a wonderful place. If you care about baseball, it's a wonderful place. Sometimes things happen in that city. You can't have all that good without having some of the bad, and I got caught up in it."

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

BOSTON – Prior to Saturday’s game, Terry Rozier talked to about the importance of staying ready always, because “you never know when your name or number is going to be called.”

Like when trailing by three points in the fourth quarter with less than 10 seconds to play?

Yes, Rozier was on the floor in that scenario and the second-year guard delivered when his team needed it.


But Rozier’s fourth quarter heroics which forced overtime against Portland, did not provide that much-needed jolt that Boston needed as the Blazers managed to fend off the Celtics in overtime, 127-123.

For Rozier’s part, he had 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting.

The 15 points scored for Rozier was the most for him since he tallied 16 in a 30-point Celtics win at Orlando on Dec. 7.

But more than the points, the decision by head coach Brad Stevens to draw up a play for him in that moment, a time when most of what Boston does revolves around the shooting of Isaiah Thomas who has been among the top-3 scorers in the fourth quarter most of this season, was surprising to many.

And at that point in the game, Thomas already had 13 fourth-quarter points.

Stevens confirmed after the game that the last shot in the fourth was indeed for Rozier, but Thomas’ presence on the floor was important to its execution.

“He (Thomas) also draws a lot of attention,” Stevens said. “So I think you just weigh kind of … what kind of shot you’re going to get, depending on who it is.”

Rozier had initially screened for Thomas, and Thomas came back and screened for him.

“I was open as soon as I caught … and I let it fly,” Rozier said. “Coach drew up a play for me and it felt good to see the ball go in.”

Being on the floor at that time, win or lose, was a victory of sorts for Rozier.

He has seen first-hand how quickly the tide can change in the NBA for a young player.

After a strong summer league showing and a solid training camp, Rozier had earned himself a firm spot in the team’s regular rotation.

But a series of not-so-great games coupled with Gerald Green’s breakout night on Christmas Day, led to his playing time since then becoming more sporadic.

Rozier, in an interview with, acknowledged it hasn’t been easy going from playing regular minutes to not being sure how much court time, if any, he would receive.

But he says the veterans on the team have been good about keeping his spirits up, and one in particular – Avery Bradley – has been especially helpful.

Like Rozier, Bradley’s first couple of years saw his playing time go from non-existent to inconsistent. But Bradley stayed the course and listened to the team’s veterans who continued to tell him that his hard work would pay off sooner or later.

Those same words of wisdom Bradley received in his early days, he passes on to Rozier.

“It’s big,” Rozier told “He (Bradley) tells me things like that. I felt I was ready for this (inconsistent minutes) after all that he told me. It’s big to have a guy like him that has been through it all with a championship team, been around this organization for a while; have him talk to you is big. It’s always good. That’s why I stay positive, and be ready.”

Which is part of the reason why Stevens didn’t hesitate to call up a play for the second-year guard despite him being a 33.3 percent shooter from 3-point range this season – that ranks eighth on this team, mind you.

“He’s a really good shooter,” Stevens said of Rozier. “I think with more opportunity that will show itself true, but he made some big ones in the fourth quarter. We went to him a few different times out of time-outs, and felt good about him making that one.”

And to know that Stevens will turn to him not just to spell Thomas or one of the team’s other guards, but to actually make a game-altering play in the final seconds … that’s major.

“It helps tremendously,” said Rozier who added that his confidence is through “the roof. It makes me want to do everything. You know defense, all of that. It’s great, especially to have a guy like Brad trust you."