Saturday, April 27, 2013

Red Sox 1-36: 22 is for…

Terry Francona being the 22nd pick in the 1980 draft.

When I first started this list, I assigned subjects to all the numbers just to make sure I’d be able to find something worth writing about for each one. When I made the list, it didn’t occur to me that Francona might not be here by the time I got to 22. Weird.

But, the fact that he’s now in Cleveland doesn’t change the fact that he won two titles here, and many people think his draft position is the reason why.

He was a first round pick. He was a sure superstar. An all-star for years to come. Everyone knew it…and so did he. Of course, that didn’t happen. His career, thanks in large part to injuries, never materialized. He bounced around for years, hoping to just make a major league roster. He eventually just drifted away.

He credited that experience as a great background for his managerial career. He knew what it was like to be the cocky young superstar. He knew that he wasn’t about to listen to anyone. He was better than that. It gave him some insight into how to deal with hot shot rookies when he had to manage them. He also knew what it was like to be the veteran trying to hold on. He knew what it felt like to have someone start in your place. He knew what it was like to dread being called into the manager’s office, because it could mean your career just ended.

With those experiences in mind, he was able to relate to his entire roster. He might know what to say to the young rookie who knows he has talent. He might know what to say to the older player who has to step aside for the rookie to play. It’s not hard to see where he might manage differently if he was a 22nd round pick.

His draft position should also serve as a reminder to the current Red Sox front office of the volatility of any draft pick. I’m sure Montreal was thrilled to draft Francona, and it didn’t work out. Draft picks sometimes don’t work out the way you hope they do.

But, in this case, I’m glad it didn’t work out for Francona. Otherwise, we might be looking at a 95 year drought.

22 is for Terry Francona’s draft position.

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