Francona didn't like all he saw under Valentine


Francona didn't like all he saw under Valentine

Terry Francona isn't sure how much blame Bobby Valentine deserves for the Red Sox' stinker of a season.

"When you have a record, I think it's an organizational record, whether it's a success or a failure," the former Red Sox manager and current ESPN analyst said Thursday on 'SportsCenter'. "I think it always has to be 'we', and I think general manager Ben Cherington kind of owned up to that earlier. It can't just be one person."

But he saw some things he didn't agree with this year.

Like constant airing of dirty laundry.

"The one thing that bothered me a little bit was that everything seemed to play out in public," he said. "There's a lot of stuff that happens in clubhouses during a season -- and that's not the worst thing -- but you find a way to fight through them and make it better. When you do it publicly, it's harder to make it better. And that seemed to happen quite frequently."

And Valentine's complaints about some of his coaches . . . some of whom worked under Francona.

"Those are some coaches with some pretty high integrity," said Francona, who later added: "Different strokes for different strokes. If I had a problem with a coach, I would go tell them. I'm not sure I would choose to do it on the radio. But, again, everybody's personalty's different."

Now that it's over, Francona isn't sure what Valentine's legacy in Boston will end up being.

"I don't know," he said. "And I think part of that will depend on how he decides to go out. Again, there's going to be the post-mortems, and I know all about that. That's not fun in Boston. Because they always want to know the reasons, and if they don't know they'll make some up."

But one thing he's sure of: Valentine's successor isn't walking into a talent wasteland.

"I . . . think the glass is way more half-full than probably the normal Red Sox fan feels today," he said.

"You start off right away with Felix Doubront, Lester, Buchholz, John Lackey -- I know they don't want to hear that, but Lackey's coming back after Tommy John surgery -- that's four pitchers, right now, that I'll take my chances with . . . Andrew Bailey comes back healthy. Dustin Pedroia is a tremendous player. Will Middlebrooks is a star in the making. Jacoby Ellsbury, a year ago was second in the MVP voting . . . And they have some money to work with . . .

"The glass, in my opinion, should be half-full."

NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945


NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945

CHICAGO -- Cursed by a Billy Goat, bedeviled by Bartman and crushed by decades of disappointment, the Chicago Cubs are at long last headed back to the World Series.

Kyle Hendricks outpitched Clayton KershawAnthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras homered early and the Cubs won their first pennant since 1945, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 Saturday night in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series.

The drought ended when closer Aroldis Chapman got Yasiel Puig to ground into a double play, setting off a wild celebration inside Wrigley Field, outside the ballpark and all over the city.

Seeking their first crown since 1908, manager Joe Maddon's team opens the World Series at Cleveland on Tuesday night. The Indians haven't won it all since 1948 - Cleveland and Cubs have the two longest title waits in the majors.

"This city deserves it so much," Rizzo said. "We got four more big ones to go, but we're going to enjoy this. We're going to the World Series. I can't even believe that."

All-everything Javier Baez and pitcher Jon Lester shared the NLCS MVP. Baez hit .318, drove in five runs and made several sharp plays at second base. Lester, a former World Series champion in Boston, was 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers.

Deemed World Series favorites since opening day, the Cubs topped the majors with 103 wins to win the NL Central, then beat the Giants and Dodgers in the playoffs.

The Cubs overcame a 2-1 deficit against the Dodgers and won their 17th pennant. They had not earned a World Series trip since winning a doubleheader opener 4-3 at Pittsburgh on Sept. 29, 1945, to clinch the pennant on the next-to-last day of the season.

The eternal "wait till next year" is over. No more dwelling on a history of failure - the future is now.

"We're too young. We don't care about it," star slugger Kris Bryant said. "We don't look into it. This is a new team, this is a completely different time of our lives. We're enjoying it and our work's just getting started."

Hendricks pitched two-hit ball for 7 1/3 innings. Chapman took over and closed with hitless relief, then threw both arms in the air as he was mobbed by teammates and coaches.

The crowd joined in, chanting and serenading their team.

"Chicago!" shouted popular backup catcher David Ross.

The Cubs shook off back-to-back shutout losses earlier in this series by pounding the Dodgers for 23 runs to win the final three games.

And they were in no way overwhelmed by the moment on Saturday, putting aside previous frustration.

In 1945, the Billy Goat Curse supposedly began when a tavern owner wasn't allowed to bring his goat to Wrigley. In 2003, the Cubs lost the final three games of the NLCS to Florida, punctuated with a Game 6 defeat when fan Steve Bartman deflected a foul ball.

Even as recently as 2012, the Cubs lost 101 times.

This time, no such ill luck.

Bryant had an RBI single and scored in a two-run first. Dexter Fowler added two hits, drove in a run and scored one.

Contreras led off the fourth with a homer. Rizzo continued his resurgence with a solo drive in the fifth.

That was plenty for Hendricks, the major league ERA leader.

Hendricks left to a standing ovation after Josh Reddick singled with one out in the eighth. The only other hit Hendricks allowed was a single by Andrew Toles on the game's first pitch.

Kershaw, dominant in Game 2 shutout, gave up five runs and seven hits before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth. He fell to 4-7 in the postseason.

The Dodgers haven't been to the World Series since winning in 1988.

Pitching on five days' rest, the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner threw 30 pitches in the first. Fowler led off with a double, and Bryant's single had the crowd shaking the 102-year-old ballpark.

They had more to cheer when left fielder Andrew Toles dropped Rizzo's fly, putting runners on second and third, and Ben Zobrist made it 2-0 a sacrifice fly.

The Cubs added a run in the second when Addison Russell doubled to deep left and scored on a two-out single by Fowler.


Maddon benched slumping right fielder Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.

"Kershaw's pitching, so I wanted to get one more right-handed bat in the lineup, and also with Albert I don't feel like we're losing anything on defense," Maddon said. "I know Jason's a Gold Glover, but I think Albert, given an opportunity to play often enough would be considered a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder, too."

Heyward was 2 for 28 in the playoffs - 1 for 16 in the NLCS.


Kerry Wood, wearing a Ron Santo jersey, threw out the first pitch and actor Jim Belushi delivered the "Play Ball!" call before the game. Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder and actor John Cusack were also in attendance. And Bulls great Scottie Pippen led the seventh-inning stretch.