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The book “Francona: The Red Sox Years” focuses not only the bad times toward the end of the 8-year tenure for the former Boston Red Sox’ manager, but also on the good times during his years as one of the most accomplished skippers in recent memory. Boston Globe writer Dan Shaughnessy teamed up with Terry Francona to write the book, even though neither really got along during the skipper’s tenure with the team.
The book starts with a couple chapters that focus on a brief biography that begins with hanging with his father during the old man’s career and continues on to his own playing days. This includes statistics from his high school days that would blow your mind and details of his days as a manager in Philadelphia.
As the book develops, the chapters are all dated with a year from his time with the team and everything is encompassed in about a 30-40 page story. It may not include everything from that year, but the important parts are reached. For instance, Francona talks about the first time he dealt with Manny Ramirez and his meeting Jonathan Papelbon during spring training. All these stories highlight the good, the bad and the ugly of what dealing with players on a MLB team would be like.
The book flies, years pass and everything starts to go downhill after the 2008 season. Francona discovers that Larry Lucchino and the rest of the ownership put out a $100,000 market research study in 2010. The study showed that the Red Sox needed more “sexy” players and that the TV ratings were suffering because of that. Former GM Theo Epstein was quoted in the book saying, “They told us we didn’t have any marketable players, that we needed some sizzle. We need some sexy guys.” Francona got angry about this, but kept his cool during the November meeting. This is the same off season that the Sox signed Carl Crawford and traded for Adrian Gonzalez to try to get that “sexy” look.
The final chapters go into detail of the fallout between the manager and upper management. The ending of Francona’s time in Boston was something that was really taken hard by Red Sox fans as they chanted “We want Tito” during the 100th Anniversary celebration last April. Francona looks at it as being fired from the team, but the owners take the approach that both sides parted with the same understating. We may never know the true answer.