Terry Francona won’t attend 100th anniversary of Fenway Park, got into an argument with Larry Lucchino

57 Comments

Next week the Red Sox will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park and Terry Francona was invited, but the former manager won’t be in attendance because of how his tenure in Boston ended.

Here’s some of what Francona told Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe:

Somebody went out of their way to make me look pretty bad. It’s a shame. I’m sure they’ll have a great event and I was part of a lot of that stuff there, but I just can’t go back there and start hugging people and stuff without feeling a little bit hypocritical.

Until I’m more comfortable with some answers on what happened at the end of the year, I don’t want to have much to do with the organization and that’s a shame. With all the good things that were accomplished, I just feel pretty strongly about that. It was pretty raw at the end of the year. I think I’ve done a pretty good job of moving on from that. At the same time, I’m never going to forget that.

And there’s a lot more where that came from. When told of Francona’s explanation for declining the invite Red Sox chief executive officer Larry Lucchino said: “I understand how strongly he feels on this matter and I accept that.’’

However, according to Francona earlier this week Lucchino called him and “got a little perturbed at me, telling me I was being unfair to them” and “we ended up getting into an argument.”

There’s nothing wrong with the Red Sox extending the invitation, but it’s pretty easy to see why Francona would decline it and kind of sad that he’s still getting into arguments with the people who fired him and tore him apart in the local media while doing so. Who wants to have anything to do with the other person following an extremely nasty breakup?

Major League Baseball needs to make an example out of José Ureña

Daniel Shirey/Getty Images
31 Comments

We’re about an hour and a half separated from the first pitch of Wednesday night’s Marlins/Braves game that featured Marlins starter José Ureña hitting Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña on the elbow with a first-pitch, 97.5 MPH fastball. The benches emptied, Ureña was ejected, and the game went on. Acuña left the game not long after to tend to his injured elbow.

After the game, when the Marlins speak to the media, they will almost certainly deny any ill intent towards Acuña, who had hit leadoff home runs in three consecutive games against them. When they do so, they will be lying. Watch how catcher J.T. Realmuto sets up on the first pitch.

ESPN Stats & Info notes that Ureña’s 97.5 MPH fastball was in the 99th percentile in terms of velocity of the 2,125 pitches he has thrown this season. It was also the fastest pitch Ureña has ever thrown to begin a game. Ureña put a little extra mustard on this pitch, for some reason.

Ureña has a 6.8 percent walk rate, which ranks 37th out of 95 starters with at least 100 innings of work this season. The major league average is eight percent. Control isn’t typically something with which he struggles.

Furthermore, Acuña isn’t the only player who has drawn Ureña’s ire:

Ureña wanted nothing to do with Hoskins — even though Hoskins has yet to get a hit off of him — in his August 4 start at home against the Phillies, walking him twice which included a few up-and-in pitches.

Ureña will almost certainly be fined and suspended for his actions on Wednesday night against Acuña. But will his punishment be enough to deter him and others from wielding a baseball as a weapon? Probably not. On June 19, when Marlins starter Dan Straily intentionally threw at Buster Posey, he received a five-game suspension and manager Don Mattingly was suspended one game. If you look at Straily’s game logs, you can’t even tell he was suspended. He started six days later on June 25 against the Diamondbacks and again on July 1 and 6. Because starters only pitch once every five days, it was like he wasn’t even suspended at all.

Major League Baseball needs to levy harsher punishments on players who attempt to injure other players. A 15-game suspension, for example, would force Ureña to miss at least two starts and it would inconvenience the Marlins enough to more seriously weigh the pros and cons of exacting revenge. The Marlins couldn’t work around it the way they did Straily by pushing back his scheduled start one day.

Major League Baseball also needs to make a legitimate effort to do away with this culture of revenge against players who are just a little bit too happy. Batters get thrown at when they flip their bats, when they yell at themselves in frustration, and even when they’re just hitting well. Baseball’s stagnating audience is very old, very white, and very male. It is not going to bring in fans from diverse backgrounds by keeping this antiquated culture that prevents baseball players from showing their personalities and being emotive. In the event Acuña needs to go on the disabled list for a couple weeks, that’s two weeks that Acuña isn’t on SportsCenter’s top-10, isn’t on the front page of MLB.com, and isn’t in articles like this. The culture of revenge is actively harming MLB’s ability to market its bright, young stars. If ending this culture of revenge doesn’t hit MLB from a moral angle, it should absolutely hit home from a business angle.