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."

Pedro Martinez talks about one of the greatest games he's ever pitched

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Pedro Martinez talks about one of the greatest games he's ever pitched

CSN baseball analyst Lou Merloni sits down with Pedro Martinez and Red Sox hitting coach Chili Davis to discuss one of Pedro's greatest games. 

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On September 10, 1999 at the height of the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry, Pedro Martinez struck out 17 Yankees in a complete game victory, with the only hit he allowed being a home run to Chili Davis. The two men recall that memorable night in the Bronx, and discuss the state of pitching in 2017.

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

NEW YORK - There won't be any wild pitches on intentional walks this season.

The players' association has agreed to Major League Baseball's proposal to have intentional walks without pitches this year.

"It doesn't seem like that big of a deal. I know they're trying to cut out some of the fat. I'm OK with that," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said.

While the union has resisted many of MLB's proposed innovations, such as raising the bottom of the strike zone, installing pitch clocks and limiting trips to the mound, players are willing to accept the intentional walk change.

"As part of a broader discussion with other moving pieces, the answer is yes," union head Tony Clark wrote Wednesday in an email to The Associated Press. "There are details, as part of that discussion, that are still being worked through, however."

The union's decision was first reported by ESPN .

"I'm OK with it. You signal. I don't think that's a big deal," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "For the most part, it's not changing the strategy, it's just kind of speeding things up. I'm good with it."

There were 932 intentional walks last year, including 600 in the National League, where batters are walked to bring the pitcher's slot to the plate.

"You don't want to get your pitcher out of a rhythm, and when you do the intentional walk, I think you can take a pitcher out of his rhythm," Girardi said. "I've often wondered why you don't bring in your shortstop and the pitcher stand at short. Let the shortstop walk him. They're used to playing catch more like that than a pitcher is."

Agreement with the union is required for playing rules changes unless MLB gives one year advance notice, in which case it can unilaterally make alterations. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope Tuesday that ongoing talks would lead to an agreement on other changes but also said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Some changes with video review can be made unilaterally, such as shortening the time to make a challenge.

"I know they were thinking about putting in a 30-second (limit) for managers to make a decision," Francona said. "I actually wish they would. I think it would hustle it up and if we can't tell in 30 seconds, maybe we shouldn't be doing it anyway."