Francona edges Farrell for Manager of the Year

Francona edges Farrell for Manager of the Year
November 12, 2013, 9:00 pm
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(AP Photo)

Terry Francona won two World Series in Boston, but strangely, never won a Manager of the Year Award.
     
After turning around the Cleveland Indians in his first season on the job, however, that oversight was rectified Tuesday.
     
Francona edged out John Farrell, his close friend, to win American League Manager of the Year honors, capturing 16 first-place votes to Farrell's 12. Oakland's Bob Melvin, who won the award in 2012, finished third in balloting conducted by the Baseball Writers Association of American.
     
The Indians had a 24-game improvement over 2012 under Francona and qualified for the postseason for the first time since 2007 . . . when, ironically, they were eliminated in the ALCS, despite grabbing a 3-1 lead after four games, by Francona's Red Sox.
     
Voting was conducted at the end of the regular season and did not reflect postseason results. Under the points system, Francona edged Farrell 112-96.
     
"I've been around the game my whole life and [being in baseball] all I ever wanted to do," said Francona, the son of ex-major leaguer Tito Francona who, after a decade-long playing career, spent four seasons managing in Philadelphia, eight in Boston and just concluded his first in Cleveland. "To be honest with you, I don't want to do anything else. I'm sure there will come a time when I don't have the energy to do the job correctly. But until that happens, I love doing what I do.
      
"I love going to the ballpark. We have our share of frustrating nights -- any team does that. But I've never wanted to be in any other job besides baseball and I don't think that will ever change."
      
After being let go by the Red Sox in 2011, Francona spent a year working as a broadcaster and analyst for ESPN, a year that he now views as well-spent.
      
"The year with ESPN was really good," he said in a conference call with reporters. "I met some tremendous people and I learned a lot. But I also realized, as I got away [from the game], it also helped me become a little more patient with things you need to be patient with. Because as a manager, that's something that has to happen. And probably, be happier for the things that come with the job as opposed to maybe getting grumpy or stubborn with some of the things that come with the job. And I felt probably more thankful and who I was working with."
      
When Francona signed with Cleveland a year ago, he surprised some in the game who thought he might hold out for a job with an organization that had more resources.
      
But Francona was excited to be reunited with team president Mark Shapiro and general manager Chris Antonetti, with whom he had worked between being fired in Philadelphia and hired in Boston.
      
"A year later, I love doing what I'm doing and with whom I doing it," said Francona. "I get a big kick out of that. It just feels good. I love who I work for. It doesn't mean we don't have challenges, but when we do, we tackle them together and I think Chris fosters an environment where everybody can do their job. I think we kind of have a philosophy that we take what we're doing really seriously, but we don't take ourselves too seriously.
      
"And we all have fun together. I think we all feel that we have each other's backs and that's a good feeling. We have a really good organizational chemistry and that's not always the case. And when you have it, it makes it very special."
      
Francona called Farrell -- with whom he remains close -- and noted the irony of the two being finalists for the award.
      
"If you had told me back in 1988," said Francona, "when we were playing in Cleveland, that we'd be up for this award, both of us would have laughed each other out of the room. But I didn't view as [going] against Bob [Melvin] or against John.
      
"When an organization does good things, these types of things happen. Our organization did some good things. Now, John [and the Red Sox] -- they did the ultimate good thing and I have a feeling they wouldn't trade [winning a World Series] for this any day of the week."
      
Francona found managing in Cleveland to be a different experience than managing in Boston.
      
"Every team's different," he said. "In Boston, you're not really supposed to ever lose a game. And that's difficult to do. You manage not just the 25 guys on the team, but almost try to manage all the noise that's around the team so the guys can play.
      
"It's a little different in Cleveland. In Cleveland, it's more just baseball, which I enjoy. You have to realize that going into a place like Boston, but part of your obligation is to try to make it easier for your players to play . . . It can be demanding at times and it can tire you out and sometimes it wears you out. Being there for eight years, I think took a toll on me. You can't have all that passion and not have some of the headaches that come with it."