Nation STATion: Francona makes history


Nation STATion: Francona makes history

By Bill Chuck
Special to

You ever hear of Three Finger Mordecai Brown? He was a Hall-of-Fame pitcher who had a record of 239-130 and a lifetime ERA of 2.06. Youve definitely heard of David Boomer Wells, the pitcher who threw a perfect game and ended his career with a record of 239-157, with a 4.13 ERA. Did you notice what they have in common besides great nicknames? Right, they each finished with 239 wins, good for 57th on the all-time win list.

As you checked how the Yankees did yesterday, did you notice that Bartolo Colon got the win? Hes 7-6 on the season and now has 160 career wins, good for seventh among all active pitchers. The only ones ahead of him on the win list are Tim Wakefield, who picked up win No. 199 yesterday, Roy Halladay, who picked up win 181 yesterday, Tim Hudson with 174 wins, Livan Hernandez and CC Sabathia with 171 wins each, and Derek Lowe with 163 wins.

To be 57th all-time for wins and seventh among active winners reflects a combination of skill and endurance. You need good stuff and the ability to withstand the pressure of competition. A pitcher has a unique role in baseball because despite it being a team game, he is the individual who gets accorded the win or the loss based on the result. If a batter strikes out with the bases filled to end a close game, his personal stats may be affected adversely, but when you look at the record book, the pitcher get the loss.

The same is true for a manager. At the end of the season, if he lasts that long, he owns his teams record. Whether the group -- pitchers, batters, and front office members -- succeeds or fails is ultimately reflected in the managers record.

I mention that because over the weekend, Terry Francona achieved wins 1000 and 1001. This means that like Browns and Wells, Francona is 57th on the all-time win list among managers. It also means that like Bartolo Colon, Tito is seventh among all active managers with 1001 wins. Only Tony LaRussa (2,691), Jim Leyland (1,548), Dusty Baker (1,455), Bruce Bochy (1,333), Davey Johnson (1,158), Mike Scioscia (1,036) and Jack McKeon (1,028) are ahead of him. That is pretty elite company.

Francona picked up his first 285 wins, and 363 losses, with the Phillies. In four seasons in Philly (1997-2000), he never had a winning season, losing over 90 games twice. Now in his eighth season with the Sox, hes never had a losing season, and hes well on his way to winning over 90 games this season for the sixth time.

Joe Cronin (1935-47) is the Sox leader in the categories that measure a manager statistically. He managed the most games, 2007, won the most, 1071, and he lost the most, 916.

Tito is second to Cronin with 1233 games, 716 wins, and third in losses with 517. Pinky Higgins lost 556 games.

However, in the category that matters most: winning percentage, Terry has the highest in amongst the three with a .580 winning percentage and hes 199 games over .500 as the Sox manager, the most in team history. Among Sox managers who have managed over 200 games, there are only three who have a higher winning percentage: Jake Stahl (235 games managed) 144-88 .621, Joe McCarthy (369 games) 223-145 .606, and Steve ONeill (249 games) .602.

You can give Cronin the lead in games managed and won, but while he had two ring fingers, they were ringless. But Bill Carrigan (1915-16) and Terry are the only Sox manager who have two rings and Francona is the only Sox manager to reach the postseason more than twice.

Managing in baseball means dealing with the clubhouse, the dugout, the bullpen, the front office, the media, the fans, and now the 247 attention of social media and talk radio. It is a battle of endurance against roster moves, more and more stats, cross-country travel, rain delays, hotel rooms, press junkets, pre-season, regular season, and hopefully, post-seasons. It means battling through injuries for both the players and yourself, dealing with health issues made worse by lack of sleep, plane travel, and eating on the road. It means missing, and worrying, about your family who are in different places around the country and the world.

More than ever, a big part of managing today is dealing with players, agents, egos, and personalities. The great Sparky Anderson said, Baseball is a simple game. If you have good players and if you keep them in the right frame of mind then the manager is a success.

Over his tenure, Terry has sent 198 different Sox to the plate for at least one appearance.

He has seen 106 different Sox pitchers.

Since 2004, Terry has lived through 16 shortstops including Nomar Garciaparra, Cesar Crespo, Orlando Cabrera, Pokey Reese, Nick Green, Edgar Renteria, Alex Gonzalez, Marco Scutaro, Jed Lowrie, Julio Lugo, and Alex Cora, the most prominent of the bunch. No team has tried more shortstops than the Sox over this time (the Reds and the Padres each used 12).

Hes brought in 79 different guys from the bullpen, only the Marlins have tried more (89).

There have been 67 different pitchers who earned a win and 69 who earned a least one loss.

Hes watched 72 different players go deep and hit 1495 homers, including 19 walkoffs.

Hes endured 86 different pitchers give up 1206 home runs, including 16 walkoffs.

There have been 54 different players who stole a base and 43 others who were caught stealing.

With five postseason appearances since 2004, he is tied with the Angels Mike Scioscia for the most by an American League manager and hes on his way to tying Joe Torre (six), the only major league skipper with more. And he wins in the postseason. Hes 28-17 (.622), the second-best record in major league history (minimum 25 games) behind Joe McCarthys 30-13 (.698) mark.

Francona has managed an assortment of personalities including Curt Schilling, JD Drew, Kevin Millar, Johnny Damon, Lugo, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Manny Ramirez and has brought out the best in most of them. The proof: 1001 wins.

And for all that, Terry, we say, Congratulations!

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


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


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.