Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Terry Francona won't take part in Fenway Park's 100th anniversary celebration

When the Red Sox celebrate the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park next Friday against the New York Yankees, the manager who was at the helm when Boston snapped their 86-year World Series championship drought won't be in the house.

Terry Francona, who unceremoniously departed from the Red Sox following last season's 8-21 finish, told the Boston Globe that he can't "just go back there and start hugging people and stuff without feeling a bit hypocritical."

Francona was the skipper of the 2004 Red Sox team which overcame a 0-3 deficit in the ALCS against the hated Yankees and swept the St. Louis Cardinals for the franchise's first championship since 1918— finally putting the Curse of the Bambino to rest.

Francona has traded places with new Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine.  Francona is now an analyst for ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball— a job Valentine held last year.

The exiled Francona said team president Larry Lucchino called him Monday to talk about the 100th anniversary and the  two men got into "an argument."  Lucchino said the Red Sox team's offer was "sincere" but Francona still declined.

Francona was manager of the Red Sox when they won another title in 2007 but last season's epic collapse put an end to the love affair in Boston.

A couple of weeks after Francona left the team, an in-depth article in the Boston Globe— using sources from within the organization— exposed the team as a bunch of over-paid layabouts who didn't take training or fitness seriously under Francona's watch.

Starting pitchers Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and John Lackey were singled out as the main culprits who drank beer, ordered take-out and played video games in the clubhouse on days they weren't scheduled to pitch.

"Somebody went out of their way to make me look pretty bad ," said Francona, after being replaced by Valentine.  "It's a shame.  I'm pretty sure they'll have a great time at the event and I was apart of a lot of the stuff there, but I just can't go back there and start hugging people without feeling a bit hypocritical."

After Boston hired Valentine, one of its first official acts was to ban beer in the clubhouse.  Francona publicly called the new rule a "PR move."

The  2011 article also touched on Francona's use of pain medication and if it affected his performance— a claim Francona denied— and problems with his marriage ( he moved out of the house he shared with his wife) and the fact that both his son and son-in-law were active Marine officers serving in Afghanistan could have had an affect on his judgement.

Francona did admit later that he felt he had lost the ability to motivate after his eight year tenure.

The former manager said he is still waiting for the organization to make a real effort to find out who was the source(s) who threw him under the bus after his final season in Boston.

He said team owner John Henry never even talked with him about the initial Globe report until April— almost the whole off-season after the expose came out— despite repeated calls to Henry.

"I thought it was five months too late," reasons Francona. "Well then how [expletive] important could it be?

"I'm never going to forget that," said about the Globe story.  "For me to go back and start waving and hugging, I'm just not comfortable doing that."

According to Wednesday's report in the Globe, every former player and manager was extended an invitation to the centennial celebration.

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