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Monday, October 3, 2011

The Scapegoating of Terry Francona

Imagine that you own or run a major league baseball team, and your team's manager was a lifetime .274 hitter, in college played on a team that won the College World Series, was named MVP of that College World Series, and had already guided your team to two World Series Championships. Wouldn't you want to keep him? I would think so, but the evidently the Boston Red Sox are more in the know that I am and have declined to renew manager Terry Francona's contract (i.e., they fired him). What a mistake. What an impulsive mistake

Every season almost every team suffers through a slump. Sometimes it happens in April, sometimes in May, sometimes in June, and so on. The Red Sox had a bad April and September and concluded that it was Francona's fault. Last time I checked, he wasn't the one misplaying ground balls, blowing saves, or striking out with runners in scoring position.  One of the rationalizations I read in support of firing him was that some of the players showed up to spring training out of shape -- since when is that Francona's responsibility?  Managers can only do so much, and to blame Francona appears to be nothing more than the Red Sox looking for a scapegoat so that the team can "move on." However, as the philosopher Rene' Girard has reminded us repeatedly, seldom do scapegoats deserve the treatment they get, and the Red Sox may one day rue the day they fired Francona, especially if he leads another team to a World Series championship.

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