Francona: '08 was the best team I had in Boston

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Francona: '08 was the best team I had in Boston

Just like John Farrell on Tuesday, Terry Francona drew quite a crowd when he met the media Wednesday . . . from Cleveland (since he now manages the Indians) and Boston (since . . . well, you know).

And he had plenty of things to say about the Red Sox, such as a) he felt the 2008 team, which lost to Tampa Bay in the ALCS, was the best he had in Boston, b) he's "very thankful" Dave Roberts was safe because "I probably would have gone home" otherwise, and b) he hopes people will buy the book he and Dan Shaughnessy wrote after he left the Red Sox.

What he had to say about the Sox . . .

Terry, what's it been like for you kind of the last couple of years, from Boston to ESPN and now back to the game. Describe what it's been like the last couple of years for you.
"Uneven. A little bit of a roller coaster. I think you go back to September of '11, and that was tough, man. I don't care what city you're in. When you go 7 and whatever, 20, if you're the manager, you're wide open for criticism. That's just the way it is.

"And the way things ended was difficult. I thought stepping back was probably a smart thing. It's not necessarily the easiest thing in the world to tell yourself you need to do that, but it was, I think, really healthy for me. I know I get back into it now feeling like I'm better prepared to do the job correctly because it's got to be almost 24 hours a day to do it right, at least I think so. I was pretty beaten up by the end of that last year."

Terry, when you were with the Red Sox, a lot of times your team would beat middle to small market teams to a free agent. You were on the other side of that yesterday with Victorino. What's it like being on the other side of that?
". . . You know what, it's kind of hard to fault a guy like Shane Victorino for going to Boston. When guys get to be a free agent, they earn that right to go wherever they want, and it's a great baseball town.

"Again, I have a lot of respect for him and the way he went about his decision. So it's kind of hard to fault somebody for that."

Terry, this is different, obviously, from your last job. For you coming in, how is it different?
"When I took the job in Boston, the expectations were win or go home. I remember being very thankful that Dave Roberts was safe. I probably would have gone home.

"This is a little different now. We're younger. We're not in the same position. But our expectations, at least in my opinion, are still the same. We're supposed to try to win.
So general manager Chris Antonetti and I and all the guys are trying to put together the best roster we can, and when it's time to put a uniform on, that's when I get really excited, and we try to have our guys play the game correctly."

Terry, the Giants are now in a very similar position as you guys were after '07, a franchise that had not won the World Series in decades and suddenly wins two in a short spell. Did something change after '07, as far as expectations, challenges from other teams, or anything along those lines?
"No, I don't think so. People ask, is it hard to repeat? It's hard to win. And what happens is you try to put yourself in a position to win every year because things go wrong.

"I thought to be honest with you, I thought '08 was our best team. I really did. Josh Beckett had that intercostal issue. And Tampa beat us. That was our best team. We got beat by a really good team, and Beckett wasn't quite able to be the Beckett from the year before. But you put yourself in that position to give yourself a chance, and sometimes you're fortunate enough to win."

Terry, you have a book coming out this winter. What's the reaction to that going to be in Boston?
"I don't know. I hope people want to buy it."

But do you expect there to be fallout?
"Fallout? I hope people buy it. I spent a lot of time. No, I think it's more it's eight years of a lot of funny, some emotional, a couple sad things. I think co-author Dan Shaughnessy busted his rear end on this thing.

"The fact that, first of all, me and him were together doing it was a shock to me."

How did that happen?
"I don't know. First time I picked him up, I told him, you have to blackout the windows because I don't want people to see you driving me around. It ended up being probably I had a year where I could do it because under normal circumstances, you can't do it. And it ended up being kind of fun.

"I think, for the most part, if somebody ends up being bent out of shape, that was not ever the intent. It was just to kind of tell the story, and I hope that people take it that way because I think it's a really good story."

The way things ended in Boston is obviously tough on you emotionally. Now that some time has passed and you're back in the game, are you a little more at peace?"You know what, I never had a problem. I think it's a little bit of a misrepresentation. If you really think about it, it wasn't like all of September me and you guys were feuding. We had a really tough September. It was a rough, uphill battle for us. We were leaking oil like every day, but our biggest concern was to trying to get to the playoffs.
"We didn't deal with any of those issues until after the season. So it was kind of weird. I didn't have a chance to like sit back and think about not having that job. Two days later, I was defending myself. So it was hurtful. And where it went from there was disappointing, but time does have a way of I don't want to go through life being I don't know if vindictive is the right word. I don't know if that's healthy.

"I have too many people there that are too special. I was disappointed with the way it ended, and I'll probably always feel that way, but it doesn't mean it wasn't a great seven years and five months."

Is it sort of cathartic a little bit to get out there and see the ovation?
"I was conflicted. I'll be pretty honest about it. I wasn't planning on doing it. I talked to some people who told me maybe I was a being a little too selfcentered. I wasn't too thrilled about that. I was glad to be there, and I was glad to leave.

"But I've never felt like besides that one guy in the third row that used to scream at me, I thought Boston it's a wonderful place. If you care about baseball, it's a wonderful place. Sometimes things happen in that city. You can't have all that good without having some of the bad, and I got caught up in it."

DeRozan has career-high 43, Raptors beat Celtics, 107-97

DeRozan has career-high 43, Raptors beat Celtics, 107-97

TORONTO - DeMar DeRozan scored a career-high 43 points and the Toronto Raptors rallied from a 17-point deficit to beat the Boston Celtics 107-97 on Friday night.

DeRozan shot 15 of 28 from the floor as he surpassed his 42-point effort against the Houston Rockets on March 30, 2015, helping the Raptors overcome the absence of fellow All-Star Kyle Lowry. Lowry sat out with a right wrist injury.

Serge Ibaka, acquired by trade from the Orlando Magic last week, scored 15 points in his debut, while fellow newcomer P.J. Tucker, picked up from the Phoenix Suns on Thursday, had a game-high 10 rebounds and nine points in his first game for his new team.

Isaiah Thomas scored 20 points for Boston, which also got 19 points each from Jae Crowder and Marcus Smart.

Down 91-88 with 4:11 to play, the Raptors went on a 9-1 run to lead by five with 2:01 to play. Though Crowder cut that lead to three with a jump shot with 1:46 remaining, DeRozan drilled a jump shot with a minute remaining to put the Raptors up by five.

Tucker was unable to convert either free throw after being fouled by Al Horford with 47 seconds left, but Thomas missed the next time down the court, and after being fouled by Smart, DeRozan converted both free throws with 33 seconds to play. He then followed up with two more after a three-point play from Smart to take the game away from Boston with 27.5 seconds to go.

The Celtics found their range early, connecting on 55 percent of their shots from the floor and 40 percent from 3-point range in the first quarter. The Raptors could only hit 40 percent and went 0 for 3 from beyond the arc, and while DeRozan topped all scorers with 10 points, they were trailing 29-18 after 12 minutes.

Boston pushed its lead to 17 on a 3-point shot from Jaylen Brown with 1:29 to play in the half, but Toronto closed on a 7-0 run following a flagrant foul by Thomas on DeRozan.

The Raptors continued their comeback effort in the third quarter, with Ibaka's 3-pointer with 5:58 to go capping a 27-8 Toronto run to give the Raptors their first lead since the 3:54 mark of the first quarter. Smart's 3-pointer with 3.9 seconds remaining handed Boston a 77-74 edge entering the final 12 minutes.

Mannix: Celtics going to be in best bargaining situation this summer

Mannix: Celtics going to be in best bargaining situation this summer

Chris Mannix helps break down what the Boston Celtics could do with all the cap space this offseason in hopes that they can build a championship team to compete next season.