Francona: It's style over substance with Red Sox owners

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Francona: It's style over substance with Red Sox owners

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."

Former Red Sox prospect Andy Marte killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

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Former Red Sox prospect Andy Marte killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

Former major leaguer Andy Marte, a one-time top prospect in the Red Sox organization, was killed in a car crash in the Dominican Republic on Sunday. He was 33.

Marte was killed the same day that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a separate car crash in the Dominican. Ventura was 25. Coincidentally, Ventura was the Royals starting pitcher in Marte's final major league game, for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 6, 2014.

Marte, drafted by the Braves in 2000, was ranked the No. 9 prospect in baseball in 2005 when the third baseman was traded to the Red Sox as part of the deal that sent shortstop Edgar Renteria to Atlanta and Marte became the top-ranked prospect in the Red Sox organization.  

Marte was traded by the Red Sox to the Indians in 2006 in the deal that sent Coco Crisp to Boston and spent five seasons with Cleveland. His best season was 2009 (.232, six home runs, 25 RBI in 47 games). After a six-game stint with Arizona in 2014, he played in South Korea the past two years.  

Metropolitan traffic authorities in the Dominican told the Associated Press that Marte died when a car he was driving his a house along the highway between San Francisco de Macoris and Pimentel, about 95 miles (150 kilometers) north of the capital.
 

Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

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Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in a car crash in in the Dominican Republic on Sunday morning, according to multiple reports. Ventura was 25 years old.

Highway patrol spokesman Jacobo Mateo told the Associated Press that Ventura died on a highway leading to the town of Juan Adrian, about 40 miles (70 kilometers) northwest of Santo Domingo. He says it's not clear if Ventura was driving.

Ventura was killed the same day former major leaguer Andy Marte died in a separate car crash in the Dominican. Coincidentally, Ventura was the starting pitcher in Marte's final MLB game, for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 6, 2014. 

Ventura was 13-8 with a 4.08 ERA for the Royals' 2015 World Series champions and 11-12 with a 4.45 ERA in 32 starts in 2016. The right-hander made his major league debut in 2013 and in 2014 went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA for Kansas City's A.L. pennant winners. 

Ironically, Ventura paid tribute to his good friend and fellow Dominican, Oscar Tavares, who was also killed in a car crash in the D.R. in October 2014, by wearing Tavares' initials and R.I.P. on his cap before Ventura's start in Game 6 of the World Series in 2014. 

Ventura is the second current major league player to die in the past five months. Former Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident in Miami on Sept. 25.