Francona: Good manager, poor prankster

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Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona tried to pull a prank on veteran pitcher Tim Wakefield on Sunday.

The 42-year-old pitcher had just been named an All-Star for the first
time in his 17-year career, but Francona called him into his office as
if to deliver bad news. As Wakefield described it …

“It was pretty funny. I was actually in the weight room doing my
work and (pitching coach John) Ferrell had come in and said, ‘Tito
wants to see you after he talks to the other guys.’ I didn’t know what
other guys. Then I got to his office and the office was closed. When it
opened, he called me into the office and I saw all the other guys
walking out with their all-star packages. He sat me down and tried to
play it off like it wasn’t good news. He couldn’t hold the laughter.”

Francona seems like a nice guy. Maybe that’s why he couldn’t pull it
off. Or maybe he didn’t have the heart to do that to Wakefield, a guy
who’s been around forever, pitched in any role asked, and never
complained. Regardless, Francona should avoid the poker table at all
costs.

Don Mattingly gets testy with Bryce Harper for no good reason

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Yesterday Bryce Harper was asked about the Miami Marlins offseason moves. Fair question. The Marlins are division rivals and that club’s tear-down was probably the biggest news inside the division of the offseason. Here’s what Harper said:

“I was very shocked that they were going to let go of Yelich, Ozuna, and Stanton, because that’s one of the best outfields in the game. So, very shocked about that. I mean, you can’t say enough about what Stanton did last year, what Ozuna did last year, and what Yelich has done the past couple years, so I thought they were a great team. I think they just had to add a couple more pitchers and they would have been pretty dang good.”

In this, Harper echoed the opinion of about ten gabillion people. Indeed, “it was unexpected that the Marlins would trade away their entire outfield, which was among the best in the game” is as close to unanimous conventional wisdom as it comes. The second part, about them contending with a couple more pitchers, is a bit more debatable, but it’s not a sentiment that a lot of people hadn’t already offered. The vast majority of that comment was “the Marlins were good and they had good players.” If anything, it was a generous comment about the 2017 Marlins and a fair question about the front office, put more politely than the way most of us have put it.

Apparently, though, he said something SUPER offensive! I have no idea what, but it caused Marlins manager Don Mattingly to say that it’s important for Harper to “take care of your own dugout.” He added this testy response:

“Take care of your business and we’ll take care of ours . . . He doesn’t really know what goes on over here. He may think he does. But he doesn’t know what the discussions are. He doesn’t know our players.”

Literally, no, he doesn’t know your players Don, because you got rid of all of the ones he knew. Assuming, though, that that is not what you meant, please. Give me a friggin’ break. If there’s a criticism implied in his comments, it’s clearly about your front office, not your “dugout” or your players.

I get that you want to protect your team and that, early into a spring training for a team that is likely to be terrible, you want to reach for anything that can serve as a point of motivation, but Mattingly has been around the block a few times. He knows what Harper was saying and he knows what everyone else is saying. His outrage about all of this is phony as hell.