In an excerpt from Terry Francona's new book, written with the Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy, the former Red Sox manager explains how ownership was obsessed with the team's "sizzle," and accuses John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino of not truly loving baseball, that they were concerned more with how the game could line their pockets.
Sports Illustrated's latest issue leads the excerpt with a scene from June of the 2010 season in which Francona, then general manager Theo Epstein and ownership met to discuss the team's slump at the time. Henry and Lucchino found several faults with how the team was being managed, but Werner, widely credited with running NESN, made a comment that struck a cord with Francona.
"We need to start winning in more exciting fashion," Werner said.
For Francona, that was just one of the signs that the team was focused on the wrong things. Of course, that season ended with the Red Sox out of the playoffs for the first time in four years.
Before that final loss, Werner passed Francona on the field and said, "What a s----- season."
That bothered the manager.
"We ground out 89 wins," Francona said. "I remember thinking, F---, if this was s-----, I don't want to be around here when it really is s-----."
That offseason, the Red Sox went about building a more "exciting" team. They traded for Adrian Gonzalez and signed Carl Crawford, but those moves didn't solve much. The clubhouse was in shambles, Francona was having problems with his health and at home, and the team wasn't winning.
After the season, and after reports were published that there was drinking in the Red Sox clubhouse, Francona was informed -- clumsily, awkwardly -- by ownership that he would not be manager for the 2012 season. He said he still doesn't know how to respond when asked if he was fired.
"When people ask me if I left the Red Sox on my own or if I was fired, I don't even know how to answer that," he said. "I tried my ass off to help put the team in position to win and I worked my ass off that last year more than ever."
Then, the kicker.
"Our owners in Boston, they've been owners for 10 years," Francona said. "They come in with all these ideas about baseball, but I don't think they love baseball. I think they like baseball. It's revenue, and I know that's their right and their interest because they're owners -- and they're good owners. But they don't love the game. It's still more of a toy or a hobby for them. It's not their blood. They're going to come in and out of baseball. It's different for me. Baseball is my life."