The idea that because Boston is currently just a game out of the wild card spot they should fire their most successful manager ever...how stupid are you people? And by "you people" I mean the entitled pink hats that think a team should win a title every year.
Listen up, now. I am going to set you straight on some things.
First off, the idea that Terry Francona is a bad manager who simply won b/c of his players is laughable. I have seen this tripe pedaled more than once on message boards and on sports radio call-ins. The theory goes like this: Tito is a bad manager, but b/c the team talent level was so high, it covered up all his mistakes until this year.
Yeah...right. So team talent is the sole predictor of success. Forget the manager, it's all about the players. That must be why the Atlanta Braves won all those World Series between 1991 and 2005. Oh wait, they only won it once. And that franchise was oozing with talent. Take 1998; every pitcher on the Braves' starting rotation won 16 or more games, three batters hit more than 30 homers and drove in more than 100 RBI, and the team went 106-56. According to the "talent trumps all" concept, these guys should have rolled to a title. Instead, they lost 4-2 in the NLCS to a Padres team whose third-best pitcher was 13-13 and only had one batter with 100+ RBI.
Now take a close look at Boston's 2004 team. The only pitcher who topped 20 wins was Schilling while Pedro went 16-9. Everyone else had 14 or less wins. The team defense was 10th out of 14 teams in the AL. Only Papi and Manny topped 100+ RBI. This was not a powerhouse team. But in Tito's first year they win a title. Yes, the players deserve a ton of credit for that. But so does the manager.
The second idea goes like this: "WHY DOES TITO FRANCOMA PLAY TEK AND ORTIZ ALL THE TIME??? THEY SHOULD SIT! COMA BABIES HIS VETERANS!! FIRE COMA!!11!!!"
And that, btw, is a close to verbatim post I read the other day. I believe that the complaint this Neanderthal had was that Tito was a bad manager because of his "insistence" on playing Varitek and Ortiz all the time. And that since he "babies" his veterans, he needs to be canned.
Well...what the hell do you want him to do? He has 25 players on his roster and half of them are pitchers. He only has so many guys to go around and he can only use what the front office gives him.
So come on geniuses, what's the plan? Play V-Mart behind the plate every night? Here's a news flash...he's not a full-time catcher anymore. He'll split time with Varitek but there is no way he can be the full time catcher. Maybe we can play him at first all the time, put Youk at third and make Lowell the DH. Oh, but then Varitek is catching full-time and that's "babying the vets" so Terry loses that way as well.
Here's reality; Tito can only do so much. He can spell players now and again. And he has been doing that; since August 1st the Sox have played 15 games and Varitek has sat for six of them. But his bench is Nick Green, Casey Kotchman and Brian Anderson. Should any of those guys be full time players? Tito can only work with what he has. And it is hardly his fault that Ortiz has had a disastrous year, J.D. Drew is perpetually injured and Jason Bay went cold after the All-Star break.
But the real problem is bigger. It is what both these ridiculous arguments are actually a part of. Right now, the Red Sox fanbase is suffering from a creeping case of Entitlement Syndrome. And it is large part thanks to the Pink Hats who think that we should win a title every year and that if it doesn't happen then everything has to be blown up RIGHT NOW!!!!111!!
Let me disabuse you of this idea right now. If you, as a baseball fan, think that:
Well, then you are an idiot.
The baseball season is 162 games long, at least twice as long as any other professional league goes. To have a team go that long, then win in the playoffs and then win again in the Series requires a lot of things. Things like limited injuries, banner seasons for players and a whole lot of luck. To then be able to do that again and again...the odds are near astronomical.
The game is perpetually changing. First came the advent of free agency. That shattered the hold a team had on its players but eventually allowed a team with a lot of money to buy up an All-Star roster. Now you have revenue sharing, the appearance of more international players in the majors, the near-obsessive protection of young prospects, the crackdown on PEDs...all of which makes that strategy null and void. The odds of another run like the Yankees had from 1998-2001 (four Series, three titles) are extremely low. I'd be shocked if it ever happened again.
The point is this; what a true fan wants is for their team to be competitive. For their team to be in a position where, if they get the right breaks and have the right players, they will win a title. It won't happen all the time. But it will happen enough that you'll enjoy seeing your boys hoist the trophy more than once.
With Terry Francona as manager, the Red Sox have won two titles in five years and have been to the ALCS three times. That is more than any other team in the AL. There hasn't been a more successful manager in the majors over the past five years than Tito. That is simply a fact and cannot be argued.
And yet the Sox got swept in the ALDS in 2005. Even worse, they missed the playoffs all together in 2006. If you remember, the Pink Hats were in a froth then as well. Had we listened to these spoiled wannabe-fans then, maybe that second title in 2007 never comes down the line at all.
Here is something else to keep in mind. Terry Francona has the highest winning percentage of any Red Sox manager who has run the team for more than three years (.578). Only Joe Cronin and Pinky Higgins have more wins with the Sox (Tito currently has 536 and will pass Pinky (560) this year). Francona trails only Joe Cronin for total games over .500 (Cronin's teams were +155, Tito's are +145). And only one other manager besides Tito in Boston's history has won more than one World Series title. That would be Bill Carrigan, who won back-to-back titles in 1915-16.
In other words, Terry Francona is the best Red Sox manager you have ever seen since the day you first opened your eyes. Period. It's not a question or a debate point. It's the truth. And to use the fact he rested Pedroia in the last game against the Tigers, or that the Sox are a half-game out of the wild-card, or that he has no choice but to have either Tek or Ortiz in the lineup on any given night, as a reason to call for his dismissal...are you kidding me?
Do you know how many teams would kill to have him as their manager right now? Do you think a team like Cleveland, with all their talent, wouldn't jump at the chance to replace Eric Wedge with Tito? Or a pathetic sack of a franchise like the Mets wouldn't leap to try and restart things with Francona? And yet we have him, and all the Pink Hats can do is bitch about being a game out of the wild-card and "only" 15 games over .500 with 45 games left to play. It's pathetic.
So suck it up and deal. Tito isn't going anywhere because he's a damn good manager. Ortiz and/or Tek will be in the lineup because that's who they have right now. And come season's end, the odds are high that Boston will be in the post-season. And if that isn't good enough for you, Pink Hats, then lose the cap and go root for someone else.