Saturday, February 16, 2013

Francona-The Red Sox Years, by Terry Francona and Dan Shaughnessy

Terry Francona managed the Red Sox for 8 years, winning two World Series titles along the way. Let me say that again. Winning two World Series titles along the way. You could argue that he’s the best manager in Red Sox history, and have a mighty strong case. As such, he had to deal with a lot through his tenure in Boston. The personalities of the players. The personalities of the owners. The old ballpark. The young general manager. All of it had to be massaged into a winner. How could anyone do it? How did Francona do it?

I wanted to like this book a lot. I was excited about reading it. I don’t know whether that, or the hype surrounding the book affected my opinion of it. But, I didn’t really enjoy it. I think the book was written too soon after Francona’s departure for what it is. I think I expected it to be different than it ended up being. I wanted to read it and go, “Aha! That’s why Manny had to be traded. Aha! That’s why September happened.” I didn’t. I don’t know if it was Francona’s intention to do that, or not. If it was, he didn’t do it very well. If it wasn’t, he should have written this book five years from now.

The presence of Shaughnessy on the cover bothered me from the start. I wished that Francona had used a national writer instead of a local guy to distance himself from the Boston media. When Joe Torre wrote The Yankee Years, he used Tom Verducci. It added a bit of authenticity to the book that Shaughnessy doesn’t bring. I got the feeling that this was a 350-page column trying to reinforce Shaughnessy’s agenda. The fact that the book is written in the third person doesn’t help that image. Quotes from Francona are treated the same as quotes from Theo, or John Henry. While I have to assume that Francona had authority over what went into the book, the format doesn’t reinforce that.

Maybe it was my prejudice that got to me. I went into the book thinking Manny shouldn’t have been traded. I don’t see a problem using PR to help sell the brand. I don’t think the best way to build a winner is through the farm system. Maybe it’s me. Because, there really was a lot of great information in the book. The behind the scenes stories were fascinating. But, the many good points were overshadowed by long stretches of frustration and annoyance. That was too bad.

Rating: 2 stars.

1 comment:

Srl said...

I just started reading this book and I agree that it already seems like an article with a few quotes from Francona. And he does sound like he has an axe to grind, particularly with Lucchino. Still, I hope to enjoy it more than you did.