As Red Sox skipper Bobby Valentine awaits his fate, there is one person who more than anyone probably knows what he is going through: Terry Francona.
Francona, now an ESPN baseball analyst, was let go after eight seasons as Red Sox manager when his team folded in the final month of the 2011 season and missed the playoffs.
That September collapse now looks like a walk in the park compared to the catastrophe of a season Valentine endured. He guided the Red Sox to a last-place finish and their worst record in nearly five decades.
“It’s been a rough year all the way around,” Francona said on SportsCenter (video above). “When I went to Boston a long time ago I thought I was prepared. You don’t know until you live through it. You don’t need to go looking for, things will find you. There’s nothing small there. They are so passionate and they care so much about their team, that whatever crops up is important.”
What Francona seemed to be hinting at was the public nature of the Red Sox’s issues in 2012. Countless reports surfaced about issues involving communication breakdowns, power struggles and personality clashes (some of which are documented here).
“Every team has problems, but when you have to play it out in the public it makes it a lot more difficult,” Francona said. “It’s not the idea that you have a problem, that’s not the big deal. It’s where you go for the problem to make it better, and when you have to do it in front of the public it makes it more difficult.”
Does the fact that those issues played out in a town where baseball is so popular and the fans are so passionate make it even more difficult?
“It’s not pressure. If you like baseball, you can’t go to a better place,” Francona said. “But you have to realize you’re going to go home with a headache sometimes. That’s just the way it is. But they care about their team and if you like baseball that’s good.”
Valentine is expected to be fired as soon as Thursday, but turning the page might not be so easy for Bobby V.
“You think the day you get let go you can kind of cut the cord and move on, take a deep breath,” Francona said. “It doesn’t work like that. You spend so much time with these guys, you feel a paternal feeling toward them. And you can’t just all of sudden forget about them. It’s a really difficult thing to comprehend because you’re with them for eight years. I mean, every day. It’s hard."