If you ever want to see the difference between the sports universe of the northeast and the Midwest, look no further than Boston where the Red Sox manager is reportedly out as manager of the team that blew a big lead in the wild card race in the American League East and lost a ballgame and a season this week.
Officially, Terry Francona will resign or decline an option to continue with the squad. Unofficially, someone has to pay when a team goes belly up at the wrong time.
Francona probably knew he was already finished when he had an extraordinary news conference yesterday and, basically, called his players jerks.
That would coincide with what Boston Globe writer Chad Finn had to say about the squad, in an article that makes Twin Cities sportswriters look like paid members of the teams they cover:
Talented, richly compensated players did not perform, starting with Lackey, who simply cannot return to this team or this city next year. Not only is he coming off the worst season a Red Sox starting pitcher has ever submitted, but he’s a miserable, dim, finger-pointing, unaccountable wretch of a teammate, and those may be his good qualities. That the Red Sox were apparently considering acquiring lefthanded mediocrity Bruce Chen to pitch a one-game playoff if necessary tells you all you need to know about Lackey’s status with the team. Pack up the sneer and the sacks of unearned cash and just go away.
Meanwhile, Ron Gardenhire, one season removed from going to the playoffs and losing — again — to the Yankees, will be back next year if the Twins’ ownership has anything to say about it.
Gardenhire, considered last year one of the best managers in baseball, didn’t get any dumber in the off-season, and yet there he sits in the record books with 99 losses.
Similarly, Francona wasn’t any worse a manager than the guy who has won fewer than 90 games only twice (and won two World Series) in his stint as manager.
But Boston fans and the ownership don’t cotton much to losing, no matter how many games you win. They hate the notion of jerks in the clubhouse right up until they win a World Series, and then it doesn’t matter. Nothing but winning matters.
That’s the difference.
There’s a danger, of course, in trying to be all “northeasty” here in Minnesota. We tried firing a coach once, in the middle of a season that followed a first-place finish and a loss in the playoffs. The Minnesota Timberwolves haven’t won more than 29 games in a season since.