I hate Terry Francona’s likely departure for a bunch of reasons. He’s a great manager. Like Matthew said, there are no better options. Whether it’s Francona getting nudged out or him simply wanting out, him leaving smells of scapegoat-creation. It’s just not the kind of thing that happens in otherwise well-run organizations.
But it’s apparently happening with the Sox, and it appears that some in the Boston media are going to use that as a justification to go with the whole “the Red Sox lost because of bad chemistry” thing. Here’s Jackie MacMullan of ESPN Boston eagerly taking up the cause an hour or so after the Francona news was first reported:
Back in the good old days, the Red Sox famously dubbed the Yankees “the Evil Empire” because they were arrogant, complacent and, yes, entitled. When New York failed, it merely outspent everyone else to pluck the best players from free agency and rejigger its lineup. Somewhere along the way, the Red Sox became what they once abhorred …
… People say we make too much of the value of good chemistry and camaraderie. They are wrong; it matters. When things get tough, teams with unified players step up. They rely on guys who believe in leadership and accountability — and each other — to turn things around.
Know which teams also “step up” when things get bad? Teams that aren’t suffering through a crap-ton of injuries to key players. But let’s not let that distract from the team chemistry stuff.
The same players with the same personalities who stunk up the joint in September were the ones tearing through the league from May through August. The thing that changed: losing.
Once — just once — I want someone to identify bad chemistry before a team starts losing, not after. Or good chemistry on a bad team. Until that day happens, I’m will remain convinced that “bad team chemistry” is the product of losing baseball games, not the cause of it.